A Reflection: May 5, 2013
As a family last year we were facing many challenges. May Day at GPS had just occurred and Christian was part of the May Court as the Crown Bearer, but she was not there, she was laying in a hospital bed across the river on a ventilator....May 4, 2012, Christian was scheduled to give her Chapel Talk to her guest and the student body at GPS, once again, that did not happen. On May 4, 2012, the students at GPS treated this day just like Christian was there giving her talk, her friends picked up the picture collage she made and the collage of all her race numbers from Cross Country races, they decorated the Chapel Talk table and brought her gifts, they honored her day...one of the many reasons I will always love GPS. Instead of celebrating and experiencing these special moments that she had talked about and planned since entering GPS as a 6th grader, Christian was running a very tough, very steep race, the race for her life...looking back every day, sometimes multiple times a day, her run got tougher and tougher. But she kept running... Now this exact date a year ago, things were fairly calm initially...Chris and I were with Christian and our friend Ann Bryant came to see Christian, but her goal was to get me out of the hospital. After some debate, Chris and Ann convinced me to leave and go for a walk with Ann, it was a gorgeous Spring Day. Ann and I went to a neighborhood in North Chattanooga where our friend Marlene lives to walk. I needed to pick up Bailey soon and she had a dance the night before and spent the night with a friend in this neighborhood. Not long into our walk, Ann needed to run back to Marlene’s house. Marlene told Ann, John (Ann’s husband had been trying to call her)...it turns out, it was Chris trying to reach me, I had my phone, but it was on vibrate. Jan Vance, the friend’s Mom where Bailey was needed us...Bailey had an accident and Jan told Chris her arm was broken. Thank Goodness, we were in the neighborhood, we got to Bailey, Jan had her loaded up with her arm supported ready to take her to Children’s ED. Jan nor Chris, knew I was in the neighborhood. The minute, I saw Bailey’s arm, my heart sank...Bailey had an obvious fracture, most likely fractures. Bailey was being so strong, she kept apologizing and that hurt my heart even more. On the way to Children’s, I called Children’s 300 and ask Vicky Kilgore to meet me in the ED with a wheelchair. She and Chris were at the door when we arrived and Bailey was quickly moved to a room in the ED and evaluated. She had fractures to her radius and ulna, she was sedated and the fractures were reduced. This all happened very quickly. During this time, things were not going so well for Christian...her body was being hit with yet another life threatening complication.....this was not a good day.
This week, May 2, 2013 was a day of celebration and remembering Christian at Girls Preparatory School. Not long ago, I found the first draft of Christian’s Chapel Talk. During a special assembly, Randy Tucker, the Headmaster at GPS shared Christian’s words. Then Bailey presented the first Christian Moseley Bryant Award.
Here is what Bailey said: The Christian Bryant Award will be given annually in memory of my sister, Christian, a graduate of the Class of 2012 who was diagnosed with leukemia at the beginning of her senior year. The recipient of this award will be a rising senior who demonstrates the traits that marked Christian’s race: Courage, Determination, Quiet Strength, Faith, Perseverance, Kindness and Joy. The first recipient of the Christian Bryant award is someone who has overcome personal challenges, has visibly shown courage, determination and perseverance with a quiet strength. She lives a life of faith and shows kindness and joy to all those around her. I am honored to present the first Christian Bryant Award to (slight pause) Emily Cullum.
I know Christian would be very pleased with the first recipient of her award. Christian watched Emily fight back and exhibit each one of the above traits. Emily experienced a Brain Stem stroke right after Thanksgiving her Freshman year at GPS. She went to Physical Therapy 5 days a week for 2 months and regained all her strength. She did this with courage, determination, quiet strength, perseverance, kindness and joy.
May 2, 2013, a beautiful Maple Tree was also dedicated at the lower fields at GPS, this tree was planted by Make a Wish East Tennessee. The ceremony was beautiful...during the ceremony the GPS Cross Country team planted flowers around the tree...so, a year later, this has been a better week. My heart will never be the same, but I find comfort in the words Christian wrote in her Chapel Talk, “On this run, I am not simply choosing life, I am living it to it’s fullest through my struggle.” “My trail is fresh, peaceful, and smooth.”