We’re just the narrators, the storytellers. We are the witnesses who relay the facts, the who what when where why.
What if there IS NO why.
What if we, as journalists, are among those asking why.
His name was Lawrence Bolden III. A big name for such a little boy. Most of Omaha (and beyond) knew him simply as Baby Lawrence, a cherubic toddler, grinning from his hospital bed as his mom and nurses encouraged him to smile. I went to his funeral this afternoon.
Her name was Kayla Hebenstreit. That smile.. stunning, and GENUINE. When we shared Kayla’s story last December, how she was diagnosed with cancer for a fourth time just one month after delivering her first baby, hundreds of thousands of people were touched by her fight. Kayla passed away Sunday morning.
They were two people who just GOT life, who did everything right. Lawrence exhibited pure love and strength. At just two years old, all he knew was how to love. He scanned a room for his momma no matter who else was there. He grinned for his daddy while sitting on his lap in the hospital. He cooed for the Children’s Hospital nurses who cared for him for so long. He just LOVED.
Kayla didn’t dream of money or yachts or Jimmy Choos.. she treasured every kiss from her husband, every moment cradling her baby girl, Kendall. Her message to her daughter, back when we spoke in December, was that she just wanted her to know how hard she tried to beat this, and how much she loved her.
And their families.. Lawrence’s mom, Shalina, a woman who got up early every single day to get her little girls to school, work full time, then rush her family every single night to her baby boy’s bedside at the hospital. Joe Hebenstreit didn’t leave his wife’s side in her final weeks, working from home a few hours a day so he’d always be there for his best friend and love.
Why did two such incredible people and their loved ones have to face such unimaginable fights? Why did Kayla’s cancer come back when she’d beat it so many times? Why didn’t Baby Lawrence’s transplant, a miracle in itself, work?
PREACHY ALERT from a mom who listened to One Sweet Day today, while watching a home video of Lawrence crawling in his hospital room. Go home tonight and look, really look, into the eyes of your babies, husbands and wives, and loved ones. Smile. Hug them and kiss them. Laugh. When the tiny little things we let ruin our days come up.. remember, they are NOTHING. Everything? LOVE. I guess that’s what I’m trying to take from this. That even though my eyes are sore from crying, and my heart is breaking for these families, I will try to pass on what Lawrence and Kayla taught me. TO LOVE deeper and to put aside the crap that doesn’t matter. As one of Lawrence’s family members said at his funeral today, if a 2-year old can go through all of the surgeries, procedures, needle pokes and pinches, and still just SMILE… WE certainly should. If a new mother, facing painful, grueling treatments just for the chance at life with her family, can still SMILE, WE should. Be thankful for every GOOD moment, celebrate LIFE and time together. LOVE.
Lawrence and Kayla, your legacies will live on. Those who knew you are better people because you were in their lives. You don’t have to fight anymore, no more pain and suffering. I pray you have found peace.
I know you found love.
To learn more about Kayla Hebenstreit, join her thousands of supporters in Kayla’s Crew; click here for the Kayla’s Crew Facebook page, and click here for the website. You can also read my first blog post on Kayla, You Think You Have Time.
To learn more about Lawrence Bolden III, click here to visit his Facebook page. You can also read my blog post about Lawrence and his journey, Saving Baby Lawrence.