My heart always catches in my throat as I round the bend to the graveyard. This past week was no exception, as I took advantage of the sunshine to take our 4-month-old son, Nate, to visit his brother, Myles. It takes courage to turn my car in that direction and it takes even more strength to carry my son the grassy steps toward his twin. But once we’re there, I’m somehow grateful. Nate started crying simultaneously with me, a coincidence this time I am sure, but I sometimes think about the conversation we will have some day that will find Nate back here, grieving for the brother he kept alive but never got to grow up with. Yes, Nate’s vibrant little body passed amniotic fluid to his brother, serving in part to keep him alive for the months he lived in the womb.
While I don’t know, I have this hunch that Myles’ early passing might be the transformative event that makes a great man out of Nate. The painful truth that forces him to prematurely grapple with life’s biggest questions. Perhaps it will keep him from squandering away years he’d regret. I pray over Nate’s little sleeping face every night that God would make him a great man. A man of courage.
And perhaps the ongoing and sometimes haunting ache of losing a son is what will provoke me to live purposefully myself and engage every day in a way I otherwise would neglect.
This month, I’ve booked a lot of space to highlight young people in Urbana who stand out in the community as individuals of courage, kids of character. Many of whom got to where they are because they chose to be courageous in the face of hardship. Take Noah Grove, for example.
When Noah was almost 5, he was diagnosed with cancer in his bones and according to his mom, Rachael Grove, they were left with no choice but to remove his leg. “One surgeon told us, ‘It’s his life or his leg.’ There is no choice here. That’s a lot a pressure to put on to parents, when their child is only 5.” Life or leg.
Noah is now 15. He’s positive, engaging and most amazingly, a great athlete. Two years ago he began playing soccer with crutches. Currently, he is part of the United States team at the Amputee Soccer World Cup and in addition, he’s a member of the U.S. Sled Hockey national development team.
Rachael has incredible respect for her determined son. “Noah never ceases to amaze me,” she said to one of our news writers, Gina Gallucci White. When I asked how she musters up courage, Rachael mentions her own difficult past that shaped her.
“I grew up in a foster home and I believe that I gained a lot of strength from that,” she said. “I have always been positive, so when we were hit with Noah’s diagnosis, there was no other choice but to live and with that came the amputation and 10 months of chemo.”
To read more of Noah’s story, flip to the front page and follow the rest of the story on page 16.
Also on the front page, the Hageman family is mentioned. After Cliff lost his leg in a tragic accident, his children are adapting to living with a new level of selfless courage — the enduring kind.
“Cass and Eli are incredible help,” said Rebecca Hageman, Cliff’s wife; she adds that they help with his medications, his wheelchair — whatever their dad needs. “They have seen what perseverance is first hand.”
See page 3 for a profile on Emily Snyder, an Urbana High School graduate who launched into the daunting world of first jobs, finding a good fit for her skills. She serves as a Nutrient Management Advisor at the Frederick County Extension Office for the University of Maryland. She looks at soil nutrient tests and advises local farmers. Snyder is an Ijamsville native.
Three Centerville Elementary School kids took the risk of entering their writing in the Young Author’s Contest — and they won. Flip to page 5 to read their poems and hear what motivated them to craft the poems in the first place.
Violinist Jackie Chen ventured to try out for the Maryland All-State Junior Orchestra. Because she took this risk, Jackie, an eighth grader at Urbana Middle School, set a new record for the school’s music department. No other student in the school’s history ever qualified to be a member of the Maryland All-State Junior Orchestra. For more on Jackie’s story, flip to page 11.
This month, love is also celebrated with Valentine’s Day. Turn to page 13 to find a number of creative dates that support local businesses here in Urbana and in nearby downtown Frederick. Jo Ostby also talks about a historic, romantic place to eat Valentine’s week. See page 15 for her thoughts on the Gettysburg spot, and a recipe from the chef.
If you have particularly creative Valentine’s date ideas, or notice anyone in our community who stands out for character or courage, please drop me a note. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 240.409.6734 with article ideas, photos or profile suggestions. Have a terrific month!