Most who read this blog are people who know me and the story of our grandson Sully’s leukemia. I have written of Sully’s short life and death in some posts on this blog. At the age of two months, Sully was diagnosed with infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This is an uncommon type of leukemia occurring in children less than twelve months of age. One figure I have read is that this form of ALL occurs in two-four percent of cases of childhood ALL. The survival rate is very low compared to other forms of leukemia.
Sully was a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, until his death at age fifteen months on August 2, 2008. In January, 2008, I began a website on CaringBridge. This became an avenue for me to share my struggle of grief and faith and to hopefully minister to others on similar journeys. Much has been written since then. This year I have written little. Last Sunday I wrote a post, the first since May. Below is that post, slightly revised. Perhaps I will share more of those posts in the future. The site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/sullivanbubbyfarrar.
“As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit” (Job 27:2-4).
Saturday, a week from yesterday, my wife and I were watching the movie, “Gifted Hands.” As the scene unfolded where the surgeon was separating the infant twins conjoined at the head I broke down in tears as thoughts of Sully rushed from the memory banks of my mind.
Thursday I was ministering to one of our church members in the pre-op area of the hospital. A boy, age three or four years, was also in pre-op. His response to whatever needle poke he was given was to cry and scream uncontrollably. My mind heard Sully’s scream when he was given one particular shot during the last months of his life. I was holding my emotions together. After all I was there ministering to the sweet lady awaiting surgery. Also hearing the child’s crying, this sweet lady looked at me and asked, “David, is it difficult for you to hear children cry since Sully?” I held it together as I answered, “Sometimes it is.”
Yesterday I sat down to eat lunch. I started to watch the old TV movie about the football career, life, and death of Ricky Bell. The first half of the movie deals with Ricky trying to connect with and help a your boy with cerebral palsy. As the struggle of this young boy was portrayed, I lost it. My thoughts went to Sully, the life he will not have. My body shook. I cried out Sully’s name. I picked up the large container of pretzel sticks by my chair and slammed it to the floor. The rest of the day my legs felt weak, my stomach churned.
Why so many thoughts about Sully and emotional moments the past eight days I do not know. You never know when the pain and grief will be resurrected.
The emotions, fears, and faith struggle of grief are expressed so humbly, meaningfully, and powerfully in the words of those grieving saints in Scripture who wrestled with God. In the quote above Job is defending his integrity to his “comforters.” Certainly the deaths of his children, the loss of all his wealth, and the loss of his health, were God’s judgment on the sins of Job, argued his friends. Job will not admit to unrighteousness deserving of the tragedies in his life. He will not allow those tragedies to cause him to give up, to give in. Honesty, righteousness, kindness toward others, living as God wanted him to live was to continue to be his way of life. His faith continued, “As surely as God lives.”
Notice, “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul.” Job’s words describe the struggle of faith for many who grieve. God surely lives. I cannot stop believing He lives! The cross and the empty tomb cry out to me, “Jesus is Christ. He lives! As surely as He lives, the Father lives.” At times my heart will agree with Job. God lives, yes. Yet He has denied my family justice in Sully’s death. The God of Scripture is the Almighty. Yet He is the one who has made us taste bitterness of soul! The struggle continues, at times more fierce. O the bitterness of soul, and yet with the riches of His grace God has lavished on us His mercy and love. As long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, I will love our Sully. Grief will launch its surprise attacks breaking my heart again and challenging my faith. As long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, I pray my faith will hold on to Him whose love is so lavishly poured out in Jesus Christ.
Helping the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital–We continue to be grateful to the staff of St. Jude’s. Sully’s parents, sister, and brother give back to the hospital and children every way they can, in memory of Sully and in gratitude for the love he received at St. Jude. This year they again have a team for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend, December 1, 2012, to raise money for St. Jude’s continuing work ministering to children with the many pediatric cancers. My wife and I are again part of Team Sully’s Scuttlers. Don’t draw the wrong conclusion, the two of us walk the 5K. If you are able to help us you may donate online or through the mail. To donate online go to http://heroes.stjde.org/paw12 or http://heroes.stjude.org/manna12. We encourage you to donate through Sully’s siblings, Hannah and Max, especially Hannah. Max isn’t old enough to be concerned with how much money is donated through him. Hannah, at the tender ages of five and six, walked that very difficult journey with her little brother. At either site click on “Sully’s Scuttlers team page.” Then click on Hannah’s name. To donate by check, mail your check to David Fisher, 6444 Goodman Rd., Walls, MS 38680. Write the check to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I will mail the check to St. Jude so Team Sully’s Scuttlers receives credit.
David Fisher, Sully’s Paw, forever