Thursday, December 23, 2010

November 20, 2010: The Death of Two Giants

The world lost two great people today. The first one lived a very short life. The second, substantially longer. But both of these individuals had great impact upon the lives of those with whom they came in contact.

The first was a young boy by the name of Rex Stuart. Rex was only two years old when he was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). In essence, it is a rare, terminal cancer of the brain stem. He is the son of a woman who grew up in the Lakeridge 8th Ward. My first encounter with Rex was when I was helping the Kuesters with the donations that poured in after their house burnt. A truck load of household goods was going to be delivered to MarChele Oldham's house (the PTA president at the time). He was one of those who came to help unload. It was shortly after this that he was diagnosed.

The community rallied their support for the family. A 5K was organized. A group designed a tree for him during the Festival of Trees. Stephanie (his mom) was pregnant through most of this. She was fortunate to deliver his little sister just a few weeks before he passed away. And when word spread that he had passed, everything was a little darker that day. People moved a little slower. And we hugged our kids a little longer and tighter.

The second individual was the mother of my brother-in-law, Bruce. Her name was Jolene Roden. When John and I first got married, she was like a second mother to us. They included us in all of their family activities. I remember crystal clear sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, hugely pregnant with Ian, barely able to scoot my chair in. I could hardly eat because I was so big! At student housing at the U, we lived in the same courtyard as their oldest son, Lynn, and his family. They were always kind and thoughtful and inclusive as well. Ten years later, we moved to Draper (where they lived) and were part of their ward. It was great to have a friendly face in the crowd. About 18 months ago, she was diagnosed with cancer.

At her funeral, we were able to reconnect with Lynn and his family, as well as the others. I listened as her kids told stories about her and the great mother that she was. How loved she was by so many. I was impressed by what I heard, and how far-reaching her effect had been. She was a great woman. Her children attest to her greatness.

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