Lessons learned from my son

I learned a lot from my son in the 6 months that he was here with us.  I wanted to share with everyone the message I shared at his ceremony.  I know there are a lot of people out there who are supporting us and could not be at the service and so I wanted to share what I shared with those who did attend. Below is the opening message I shared.


I would like to thank all of you for being here today. We have been touched by all the overwhelming support we have received from all of you. Your support has been a vital part of our healing this week.

As we gather today, I know there will be tears shed; but we want them to be tears of joy and not sorrow. We want to celebrate the life of Aaron, by focusing on all the happy memories and the lessons he taught us.

Aaron is one of the strongest people I know despite only being here for six months. He valiantly fought through countless surgeries and procedures, and defied the odds on several occasions with his will to live, and he fought til his last breath.

But I don’t want to focus on his suffering, because he is no longer suffering.  I want to focus on all the happy memories. Like why we referred to him as baby hulk. Despite the nurses best efforts, he had an uncanny ability to work his arms free and try to pull out his cords and ventilation tubes.

Or how when watching the super bowl with him, he couldn’t make it past halftime as this grandmother looking person, I mean Madonna, sang him to sleep. Or how during the few weeks he was home, he would look at his sisters like they were the weirdest people in the world.

My two favorite memories involve sports and politics. His first taste of politics was watching one of the countless Republican debates. Whenever Rick Perry would talk he would cry, whenever Mitt Romney spoke he looked confused, but whenever Ron Paul spoke he would smile and laugh. I guess he was ready for the Ron Paul revolution.

If you know me well then you know I am a die-hard Kentucky basketball fan, despite living in dUKe country. I still have a very strong dislike for Christian Laettner and Duke Basketball, and it was with great pride that Aaron and I sported our Kentucky basketball gear at Duke University Hospital. I watched all but two games with Aaron this season, those were the games we lost. Aaron watched every Kentucky tournament game with me. Even when he was sleep, he would always wake up for game time. The only game he slept through was the National Championship game. I took that as his way of saying he need not leave his slumber because Big Blue Nation would be celebrating that night, and we did.

But the big things were the lessons I learned from him. His strength and will were uncanny for a baby. Through everything he never quit because he had a passion for life. We should all learn from this, I know I did. All he went through makes what I complain about seem like nothing. If he didn’t quit, then I shouldn’t either.  No more sorry excuses about exercise and getting in shape. All the books I say I will write, need to get written.

Most importantly though, my passion and desire to work for equal rights, justice, and opportunity for everyone has been enhanced. I want to fight with the same strength and will that Aaron used every day.

I hope you all will join me in celebrating the life and strength of Aaron, and make a commitment to living your life with the same strength, will, and passion for life as he did. That is the best way to honor him and keep him in our hearts forever.

Once again, thank you for being here and for the overwhelming support you have shown us.

Thank You.




Let Him Die

What can we say about ourselves as a society when “Let Him Die” becomes the saying of choice when talking about health care?  Those of who watched the most recent Tea Party express debate will know what I am referencing.  For others, you may be startled at the circumstances surrounding that quote.  That portion of the debate centered around health care.  Since all of the candidates on that side have opposed the health care bill that passes, and don’t believe in quality, affordable health care for everyone, they were being asked to answer how they would handle it. When faced with a scenario of what to do if a middle-aged uninsured man needed care, members of the tea party crowd began to say “Let Him Die”.  While none of the candidates used that response, they stood their ground on the fact that health care is a choice and not a right.  If you choose to not have health care then you run the risk of high bills.  Ron Paul’s own former campaign manager was in this situation.  Yet his stance is still the same.

It saddens me that none of the candidates took time out of their responses to address the crowd, while they have issued statements in the aftermath, none of them took a stand during the debate.  If that is not a message you want your followers to be spreading then take a stand.  But what does this say about us as a society?  Are we now God (or whatever higher power you believe in), that we should decide who lives or dies based on their ability to pay?  It also shows the hypocrisy of some in the tea party.  During the health care debate, one of the big opposition talking points was based upon death panels.  They were falsely claiming that the new health care bill would create these death panels to decide who would live or died when it came to receiving care for the elderly.  This was a false claim, but how would that scenario be different from their stance on letting someone die who cannot afford coverage?

If they really want to lower the cost of insurance and the amount of tax payer dollars going to cover the uninsured, then they should want everyone to have health coverage.  The more people who are insured the less people will choose to use the emergency room for basic health issues that could be covered by a doctor visit.  Increases usage of emergency rooms by people who cannot afford to pay only increases the amount of tax payer dollars going to coverage.  Even if we put policy aside, are we in that bad of a place as a nation? Do we really care so little about the least fortunate among us that we think it is better to offer them no services than have the government offer assistance?  I wonder if these same people will feel the same way, when they lose their job and insurance and are facing a life or death health situation and need assistance?

The fact is, this situation has shown the hypocrisy of the tea party.  Oppose death panels (false claim) when it helps you oppose the president, but support your version of the death panel (true claim) when it proves your position on too much government.  The tea party gets mad when people make claims about their movement and what it stands for, but their own debate audience makes it clearer than ever what they stand for.  When none of their leaders will take an aggressive stand against cries like this, what are we supposed to believe about the tea party?  Their actions and words seem to paint an accurate picture.