Memory Tree light-up a time to reflect

Marilyn Davidson was filled with pride for her son Michael when she turned on the first light in last year’s Tree Lighting in Memory

Cowichan Valley Hospice Society

Marilyn Davidson was filled with pride for her son Michael when she turned on the first light in last year’s Tree Lighting in Memory event at Cowichan District Hospital.

She remembered how even though he had been terribly ill, he helped to put every single ornament on the Christmas tree the year before. An amazing man, he loved Christmas.

Touched by cancer at a very young age, Michael was a survivor, full of the joy of life.

Although the cancer that appeared shortly after his first birthday left him blind and with some learning difficulties, Michael was independent and adventuresome. He once sneaked out of a locked hotel room in the middle of the night despite the chair hooked under the door handle as an extra precaution. He eventually appeared in the hotel lobby, his face and cowboy pyjamas covered in coal dust. He had apparently explored the hotel’s furnace room. A glass of milk was his only request.

Michael enjoyed the devotion of his mom and his grandparents. Through his childhood, his mom encouraged him to develop independence and he eventually worked at Providence Farm and lived with friends in a group home. Michael played the piano and once saved all of his money to buy himself an autoharp, teaching himself Felice Navidad. He would sing all of the verses to anyone who would listen.

Michael contracted cancer a second time at age 43 and it took his life within weeks of being diagnosed. His devoted mother was devastated.

After Michael’s death a friend who loved him died suddenly and a dear friend of Marilyn’s since childhood and her friend’s brother also died. Loss piled upon loss.

A year after Michael’s death Marilyn found a Hospice bereavement support group a welcoming place where she could talk about how deeply she was grieving. She appreciated that no one ever said, “It’s been a year, you should just get on with it.” Marilyn also had therapeutic touch while she was caring for Michael through his illness and still gets treatments from Hospice volunteers. “Although a lot of emotions came up for me at first, now I find the appointments so relaxing that I don’t want them to end. I can hardly wait for the next one.”

Close to the first anniversary of his death Marilyn was invited to turn on the first light in honour of Michael.

The Tree Lighting ceremony will be held this year in front of Cowichan District Hospital on Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. A short ceremony will feature words of comfort and music with Queen Margaret’s School Choir, before the public is invited to turn on a Christmas tree light in memory of someone they are missing this holiday season. Hot drinks and food prepared by Hospice volunteers will be available in the hospital cafeteria after the tree lighting.

For more information please contact Cowichan Valley Hospice at 250-701-4242 or cvhospice@shaw.ca