Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Home, Heart, Community

For a few weeks now, I've felt called to write a post about how much I love Clemson. I would have never thought, 10 years ago when D. suggested we move here, that I would ever call this place home, much less love it here. The idea of living in a tiny town in South Carolina, much less the same place my in-laws still live, sounded constricting, isolating, dull. Now I find it supportive, friendly and joyful. I love Clemson and I'm proud to call it home.

I'm taking the Leadership Clemson course, which has taught me so much about how (well) the city runs. I leave each meeting eager to tell folks about what our administrators and fellow citizens are doing to make this city so great. I've started following (and occasionally participating in) city politics, school board meetings, community foundations, and other groups working to make a difference. I feel like anyone who cares can be heard here.

I can't quite write the post I envisioned, though, as another issue has been weighing heavy on my heart. Several weeks ago, we learned that Lachlan, the little boy I wrote about here, had a relapse of leukemia. Even though his body took to the first bone-marrow transplant very well, the cruel disease returned in force. His superhero of a donor agreed to donate again, but Lachlan's body became too weak to undertake another round of the chemo and transplant. Late last week, his family took him home to rest and enjoy time with his twin brother and little brother, and all the family and friends who were eager to see him. They are currently soaking up memories, love and life for as long as they can.

While my heart aches daily for this child and this family, it has also soared in seeing the community come together during Lachlan's illness. Lachlan lives in an even smaller town next to Clemson, and I doubt anyone who lives in Seneca doesn't know his story. Houses, trees, mailboxes and storefronts are covered in orange ribbons in his honor (he loves his Clemson Tigers). The family has hosted several donor drives for Be the Match, staffed by loving volunteers, which have resulted in an incredible boon of much-needed donors and funds. Blood drives in Lachlan's honor take place at churches and businesses around the entire Upstate. Campus groups (especially Tri-Delts) and churches have held ceremonies, prayer circles and special events.

The community support is proof of the best of what a small town can offer. There are people here who care deeply about their neighbors, who give what they can, who pray hard, who check in. Lachlan's family may be going through the hardest thing anyone can be asked to endure, but they are not doing it alone.

These days, community exists online too. If you're the praying sort, please send up a prayer for Lachlan and his family. If you're healthy, please join the donor registry (it's an easy process!) at www.bethematch.org. If you have a few extra dollars, please donate to Be the Match or your favorite cancer-research charity.

You can also send checks to the newly formed Lachlan McIntosh Tannery Foundation at PO Box 63, Seneca, SC 29679. Mary's friends started that foundation in the middle of Lachlan's treatment. It was their way of creating a new community to care for other families that will battle this disease.

Love and Hope.