Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Cacophony of Grief and Hope

Leetsdale, PA - I arrived here Friday afternoon and found Leslie and Gianna in fairly good spirits, but perhaps a little overwhelmed by the level and amount of telephone calls and in-person visits that were coming from all over the local area and beyond. This continued largely unabated through Monday, until Leslie was able to meet with her pastor and the funeral director to finalize those arrangements.

The response from the local community to Michaela's passing has been extraordinary and humbling. To this end I will defer to the following links for those wishing to know more of Michaela and what is being done for her family:

  • Leslie has maintained a page for Michaela on the CarePages website, which is sponsored in part by Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. The site requires a free registration to view Michaela's page. Clicking here will take you to the correct place to register, sign in, and view Leslie's entries and photos from over the years.

  • Michaela's obituary has been published online in the Beaver County / Allegheny Times, and is available by clicking here. Visitation will be tomorrow, with funeral services and burial on Thursday. Thursday's Sewickley Herald is also expected to have a story about Michaela.

  • The community of Leetsdale is coming together to assist Leslie and Gianna, this time with a Celebration of Life benefit for Michaela's care fund. A Facebook page has been created for the event with additional details.


Even though my life here has taken the bulk of my recent time and attention, I received word yesterday about the passing of Chris Bryson, a Grand Junction firefighter who had waged a courageous battle with Leukemia for several years. I worked with Chris' wife Meredith at the Grand Junction 9-1-1 center.

I saw Chris most recently at Cabela's, where he worked for a time at the gun counter. We spoke during the training sessions before the store opened, and he shared some interesting things with me on how he was coping with the treatments, the travel, and the other rituals, both small and large, of life with cancer. His disposition seemed strong, and I felt better for having spent time with him. My thoughts and prayers go out to Chris' family, friends, and co-workers.

More visitors and things to do. Have a good rest of your week.

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