Officiating at an aunt’s funeral reminds me of my source of strength

I hope to pass on such lessons to my sons in their battles against hemophilia

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by Joe MacDonald |

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Last Friday, I had the honor of presiding over the funeral of my aunt Joyce. As I started to speak, I asked those attending to remember a particular date in 1973 when we, the family, celebrated the wedding of my uncle Pat. Everyone was dancing, and joy just filled the air. I was 9 and sitting in a chair when Aunt Joyce suddenly approached me and said, “Come on, Joe Buddy. It’s time to do the dance I taught you.”

Immediately I found myself on the dance floor, looking into my aunt’s beautiful blue eyes and concentrating hard to remember all the steps she’d taught me. Everyone took a step back as we started to command the room. As I looked at her, the performer in me came out. We nailed every step as everyone stood clapping and chanting, “You go, Joe Buddy.” I knew I couldn’t miss a step because my aunt was there to carry me through the dance.

That particular night so long ago was like magic. Love permeated the air as we all celebrated a wedding and our love for one another. I think of this moment when I feel lost and unsure of myself. I go back to when the bonds of family wrapped me in a blanket and ensured that I had a place to belong. I was somebody to somebody.

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Memories like this one continue to reassure me, especially when faced with the difficult task of raising my two sons. I want them to know what my 9-year-old self felt on that dance floor. I want them to feel wrapped in my love, comforted in the knowledge that though it may get hard to battle against the ravages of their cases of hemophilia, they’ll always have space to feel invited and loved beyond anything they could ever imagine.

The loss of my aunt was a catastrophic event in my extended family’s life, and her passing leaves a significant gap. The one thing I encouraged her children, my two amazing cousins, to do is to make their lives matter. They shouldn’t let the lessons she taught them go unnoticed; instead, they should take courage in the love and joy she left behind. At the end of my remarks, I told them, “Dance well. Love well. And let joy surround you always.”

The memory of my younger self reminds me of an answer to an age-old question: What is my source of strength? My reply, of course, is that I find support in the God of my understanding. But to draw on that power, one must discover a physical way to manifest that strength in life. The wedding in 1973 allowed me to glimpse into my faith’s headwaters.

Hopefully, when my sons are in their darkest moments and the pain of internal bleeds never seems to end, I may extend my hand to them and say, “It’s time to rely on the strength that I taught you.” In other words, it’s their time to dance. I hope I taught them the steps well and that they may gather their power to overcome adversity from the experiences they’ve shared with my wife and me. May they understand that I want to teach them the ultimate lesson: that love can conquer anything.

Today, I’m incredibly grateful for the strength that I learned to draw on from my family. I continue learning new steps and ways of expressing hope to my incredible sons. My goal is that one day, they may claim their own strength through the examples I offer them. I wish them a joy-filled life, secure in knowing they’re loved more than they can ever imagine.

Thank you, Aunt Joyce, for reminding me of love, the greatest of all things.

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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