So, picture yourself as a newly married person and you are so excited to start the family that you have dreamed about your entire life. God says to you, "Let's make a deal." The deal is that you will have an amazing child that you love with all your heart, a true gift from God. He will be an amazing brother, son, friend, teammate, student and tennis player. He will bring joy, courage, strength..and the love of the Lord.. .to himself and others in his lifetime. The first 18 years will be "easy" and he will lead a relatively normal life filled with school, vacations, tennis practices and tournaments, football games, parties, church. BUT, when your child turns 18, he will experience 2 years of enduring and fighting a very difficult and rare disease...he will have an epic battle. This disease causes him and others to consider their lives more closely, it brings communities together in a spirit of fellowship, people start praying more and relying on God, people desire to live their lives more fully as we are reminded of the fragility of life, people are more kind, more patient..and utlimately LOVE more because of the inspiration that this person brings into the lives of others. Sadly, after 2 years of fighting this disease, your child will die young, however he will have eternal life with the Lord and experience ultimate peace and joy with his Father and leave a mark that has positively impacted many people around the world. You will be reunited with Sean after your earthly mission is complete. The Lord asks now, "knowing all of these things, it will be difficult, but do you want this child, do you want Sean?" Of course, the emphatic answer is "YES."
So, how are we doing? It seems that grieving is a very individual process, with no playbook...so we live day to day. We also are trying to adopt the words of the famous author, Dr. Seuss, who said, "Don't cry because it is over, smile because it happened." Well, we are crying, but we also smile knowing that we are blessed with 3 incredible children with amazing communities who supported us through some very rough waters. Thank you for all of the support everyone has shown us through the Celebration of Life (how awesome is UTK?...pretty awesome...#VFL), the Memorial Mass (thank you Holy Family CC!), the prayers, food, cleaning, cards, gifts, gift cards...prayers and love. It was great to see all of our friends from all of our walks of life (Brentwood, Knoxville, Michigan, family, hockey, tennis, church, school, etc). Thank you to everyone for wearing their orange and showing incredible support to our family...we needed the love..and felt the love! We know that we are unusually blessed with amazing people surrounding us...big bear hug to all!
What is our next chapter? For now, we will take a breath and reflect..and hopefully catch up on some much-needed sleep! We may move toward foundation work to help erradicate the nasty Ewings Sarcoma. We have learned that pediatric cancer research is only 4% of the NIH cancer research budget which is woefully inadequate to combat these diseases. We will pray..and take some more marching orders from The Lord. In the meantime, if you feel encouraged to help the fight against Ewings Sarcoma, please use the link below to donate.https://webapp.mis.vanderbilt.edu/olga/pub/landing?appealCode=A10MH
Also, UTK has set up a fund as well to focus on tennis projects, renovations, possible scholarships. Those donations can be sent to:
Attn: Sean Karl Memorial
1551 Lake Loudon Blvd, Level 1
Knoxville, TN 37996
Love to all and thank you for walking this very difficult, but privelged journey with us and of course, God is good, God is great,
Laurie, Mike, Sean, Justin, Steven