Some of you know that Snick recently went on a Caribbean cruise to celebrate graduation/get a chance to spend time together before the baby/to enjoy a vacation before law school puts us into major debt. I'm planning on sharing the wonderful details of our trip soon, but as a lot of people have probably already heard, there are more important things going on in our family.
On the last day of our cruise, they lowered the price for internet. Nick needed to check some law school applications and paid to check his email. We had both received a rather frightening email from my Dad explaining that our nephew Keith was not doing well. Keith had been sick for a week or two with what we all thought was some stomache problems. Dad informed us in the email that Keith had been diagnosed with a very agressive and malignant brain tumor called medulloblastoma.
After checking Darcee's blog, we realized that Keith had already undergone two brain surgeries while we had been on vacation and was currently undergoing a third. We had no phone service and no way to know what was going on except for the several blog posts that Darcee had done about Keith's situation.
Hearing this news made us sick. Not knowing the full extent of the situation and not being there to see Keith and spend time with the Smarts/Burnetts was extremely difficult. The next day we got off the boat as soon as possible and made our trip home. They lost our luggage and we had to wait for them to send it on a later plane, but after our luggage came and we did a load of laundry, we slept for a few hours and got in the car to drive down to Portland.
It is difficult to not let your mind run away with itself during times like these and before we saw our family I think both Nick and I feared the worst. However, despite the severity of the situation, I think everyone remains hopeful. Not only have people been so supportive and prayerful for our family, but everyone has really remained optimistic. Which brings me to Keith.
I was so nervous to see him. He is in so much pain and this whole experience has been beyond traumatic for a three year-old. But the moment we walked into his room at the hospital I was overwhelmed by Keith's strength. He looked so tiny and sick, and it was obvious that his pain was monumental. Despite the way Keith looked, the feeling in the room was one of strength and determination. Keith has always been a tough, little guy and now is no exception. We've prayed so hard as a family that Keith will be able to continue to improve and I really felt like seeing Keith was an answer to my prayers. The sense of strength that I felt when I was near him confirmed that for me. I know the road is long and steep for his recovery, but I have complete confidence in Keith's strength as a tiny person. I have never been so overwhelmed by the presence of one person in my entire life and I know Keith can face his cancer with strength beyond what anyone else could muster.
I cannot even describe what an emotional time its been for our whole family. Keith is 1/3 of the three greatest blessings the Smart/Burnett family could have. Cole and Ally obviously making up the other 2/3. Darcee and Brent's kids have brought so much joy to all of us and I just feel blessed to be their aunt and I know Darel, Chelsea, Shea, and Nick feel the same way.
This whole experience has really made me reflect upon our family. The mighty, mighty Smarts. On camping trips when we were young my Dad would lead our family in silly chants basically proclaiming our superior familial composition for the world to hear. I loved following my Dad's lead and always felt such pride in our family when we sang about the mighty, mighty Smarts. Keith's cancer has made me feel that way all over again. When Darcee married Brent, we knew they would produce tough, hard-working offspring. Both Darcee and Brent are such strong people and little Keith is just as mighty. I have such confidence in our family. We've always been unified and strong and I know that this trial will bring out those qualities in the Smarts/Burnetts. Sitting in Keith's room with our family, I couldn't help but feel pride in the people surrounding me. All such sturdy individuals. I have been comforted by the strength my family has displayed during all of this, especially Darcee and Brent. I have complete faith in the Lord's plan for Keith and for our family and I know that the strength of our prayers and the prayers of everyone who has been so kind to our family will increase that faith everyday. If anyone can do this its the mighty, mighty Smarts/Burnetts - I know that for sure.
I'm just so grateful that so many people have prayed for Keith. I know he has been strengthed by everyone's concern for him. The concept of eternal families has always been an important part of my testimony. I have always felt a deep connection to the structure of our family and I know we are all together for a reason. Family is everything, it is essential in everything we do and I am so thankful for that knowledge and for the opportunity to be uplifted by my own family everyday. I am so proud to be a mighty, mighty Smart and I'm so proud of brave little Keith.