In honor of our #LukaTheLion who came into this world and made it a better place, and who finished this time on Earth on exactly#GivingTuesday, Dr. Philip's birthday, and his buddy's last day -- of all days.
At 11:09 pm on December 1st, our sweet lion earned his angel wings and went to a better place in heaven. He's at peace and finally not suffering anymore. We may never know someone again with so much fight, courage, and bravery who made it look easy much of the time with his brilliant, beautiful spirit. "That's so Luki," as Maia would say. Some of his last expressed thoughts to us were about lions, how he wanted "more please" and applesauce, and to "go home in daddy's car." He's at the eternal home peacefully with grace. Someday we will meet again. For now he's playing with Maks, Conner, and many loved ones who are all guardian angels above. And when I explained to Luka that he will see his big brother, he waved. When we prayed around him, he pointed his finger to the sky. When we did energy work around his his soul was beaming. As our hearts are hurting, we are forever comforted that he's not hurting anymore and his soul is in a better place.
There are volumes to write about our experience the past 48 hours or so as our immediate family and UNC family supported us as we supported our lion and his big sister in this process. What stands out to me as I write in exhaustion is that I am forever grateful for the genuine and united compassion, dignity, and respect of the entire team of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, housekeepers, child life specialists, snd so many more who showed up with dignity, hugs, coffee, laughter, tears, stories and support. We are eternally bonded over our immense love for Luka which was incredibly evident by the outpouring of staff who came to pay their respects. Our mutual love for our lion transcends this world and he truly made us better people. His life has and will teach and inform medicine, and in just 22 months he made an impact that will live on forever.
There are so many stories to tell, and we will get to sharing them. For now, we wanted to leave you all with this precious memory of Maia and Luka laying together on the big bed that they got special for us. Maia Bee was of course a sweet ball of energy wanting to read books and look at the objects. She did some sweet pats on his head just like she used to do and told him how much she loved him, as well as all of us gathered at that point - all grandparents, parents, and nurse Bren, who we love as well. At one point Maia ripped a beautiful picture that she made for Luka the day before of her, Luki, and "Kornelia - her sister in Poland" (who is actually a cousin, but darling enough). She often draws herself with Luki and then another person who she reaches for but can't quite place. It must be Maks and she hasn't fully understood it yet. Well, the picture was torn and I told her that we should tape it back so she can save it forever. She didn't like that and after a question she explained that she ripped it since she was sad that her brother wasn't feeling good. She wanted to know if he will sleep in the hospital forever. We then had the conversation that he won't sleep in the hospital forever and neither will mommy. I'll come home some day. When she asked where Luka will go, I responded that he will be an angel in heaven. She wanted to be an angel. So I explained that we are angels on earth. She wanted to be an angel with Luka and I responded that someday she will be. Then the most profound question, "Do all people become angels?" followed by an even more profound act. She then ripped a piece of the picture for each family member and shared it one by one. Luka received the piece that may have been symbolic of Maks. From literally tearing herself apart from her baby brother -- which couldn't be more accurate in reality -- to then sharing pieces of the picture with each family member who she loves -- is absolutely brilliant. Just like "her Luki baby," she handled it peacefully with grace.
We look forward to sharing more stories with you all -- the greatest Pride a lion could have who has been a circle of love for us that we are eternally grateful for. The circle of love just like the circle of life must live on.
We love you all. To have loved and lost is better than to never have loved at all.
More to come, always -- peacefully with grace.