Thursday, June 15, 2006

Songs About Rainbows.

The concert began last night with the Vice Principal welcoming everyone and reading a poem that was written by the little 9 year old boy whom the event was being held for. It was a descriptive poem of himself -- with words like happy, busy, strong, friendly and hockey fan in it. The last line held onto Ryan's dream. He stated that he wanted to grow up to play in the NHL. A typically active Canadian little boy with a typical Canadian dream. Last night we gathered as a small school community within the larger city community to raise some money to help out Ryan's family while they focused on his healing.

A few short weeks ago, apparently after a winter of poor health Ryan was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. It came out of the blue. The news shook the teachers, kids and families associated with Garden Creek which is a tight knit supportive school community that my children have been an active part of over the past several years.

Within hours of finding out, the teachers decided to put a Father's Day basket together to raffle off. Then, someone decided to hold a "loonie" drive as well so that the kids could bring in a couple of dollars for the jar. By the next morning, kids were arriving with coins. Parents were arriving with their cheque books. The basket idea expanded to include so many items that they were clumped together to fill 16 "baskets." Local businesses, who have always supported the school during the annual Creeker Christmas fundraisers came forward at this time of year donated items and gift certificates. One of the parents, whose hobby is woodworking dropped off two cedar adirondack chairs for the cause. Overwhelming, but not a surprise. By the time the concert was planned, this special school, whose motto is "Once a Creeker, Always a Creeker," had already raised thousands of dollars.

The concert was a joyful could it not be? The gym was filled with parents, grandparents and little preschool anklebiters wriggling in their seats while their big brothers and sisters sang joyful songs. There was a feeling that one only gets in a larger group of a sense of belonging and more importantly of doing something helpful when uncontrollable trauma is felt. Hope and joy and hope.

The first group to perform was the boys choir, which consists of 20 little ruffians dressed in black chinos, white shirts and bow ties. These guys ages 8,9 and 10, all of whom also play and live for hockey, have been singing together under the direction of the Principal, a musical guy himself, all year. They have performed with other choirs, in churches and in seniors homes and even for the Premier himself. My son, who knows Ryan well after spending many hours together when they were little at daycare and afterschool care, sings with this crew. One of the songs they sang was the Rainbow Song..............the one Kermit sings. Innocent voices performing for their playground friend. It was very touching.

The concert lasted a little over an hour, with half a dozen different groups of children performing songs in both English and French. Little girls dressed in their summer dresses. Little boys spiffed up in their best T-shirts and shorts. Kids who normally would be playing hard on a soccer pitch were performing for the last time this school year, thinking about Ryan and knowing that he was gravely ill fighting for his life in the Childrens hospital far away in Halifax. Even the teacher's choir, also formed by the Principal sang a couple of numbers. One of the Creeker parents who has volunteered his time over two lunch hours a week for the past couple of years teaching any kid interested how to play the bagpipes assembled his little band to perform as well. Not bad. It was far from professional, but it was close to the heart.

After the concert, parents chatted, teachers chatted and the kids scattered throughout the gym. The feeling was of promise, though in reality we all knew that Ryan's chances of survival were slim. His cancer was an aggressive kind, and his treatments were severe. The whole week, the updates on his progress went from good to bad to good to bad. Just before the concert, we had heard that his heart may have been damaged, that the cancer may have spread too quickly, when just last week we were told that his chances were good. It was difficult to gauge as we continued to pray for the little guy. Strength in numbers. Strength in togetherness.

When we arrived home, we settled into a more typical weekday routine of homework and baths. My husband, who was helping out another family in the neighbourhood and was not able to attend the concert heard the news first and returned home bearing the sad news.

Our little Creeker friend Ryan, dreamer of playing hockey on his favourite NHL team, had passed away yesterday afternoon.

The Rainbow Connection

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that
and someone believed it,
and look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.

All of us under its spell,
we know that it's probably magic....

Have you been half asleep
and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.
La, la la, La, la la la, La Laa, la la, La, La la laaaaaaa


Ellen said...

Reading this post, I felt an abundance of hope for Ryan, and many smiles came to my face to see that a community was so active and so together in their focus. It's what dream communities are all about.
And then, I cried like a baby when I read about Ryans passing. I'm so sorry to hear the terrible news.

awareness said...

It is so tragically sad. I spent some time at the school this morning hanging out in the library with some of his friends, counselling them. They were so open with how they were feeling and what they were thinking. It was very apparent that this was a little guy who was a well liked...the type of kid who is friends with everyone. The boys were so honest......and yet their real focus was on making cards and finding the right words to help Ryan's parents cope with their loss. Their level of empathy was truly heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. Such good good kids......such innocents facing a stark reality.

Thanks for you comments.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

It is indeed very sad.

But in my own limited experience, I have learned that so long as one is able to breathe, there is always hope. This untimely passing was so very sad, on the one hand, and on the other, his memory brought so many together.