Sara Stamp is the Founder and Executive Director of Layla’s Legacy Foundation, an organization created to honor the memory of her daughter Layla, who passed away at the age of five from Medulloblastoma, the most common form of pediatric brain cancer. Sara is also the author of The Other F-Word: When Faith Fills The Gap. She is passionate about connecting with others as an encourager during times of loss and grief, especially when it relates to childhood cancer. You can connect with Sara on social media @sarabstamp or @laylaslegacy.
The year was 2010. Two wide-eyed newlyweds contemplated starting a family. So many ideas and assumptions of what it would be like: a quiet, sleeping baby, cozy evenings reading books with our brood by the fire, tucking those sweet angels into bed each night and watching them drift off to sleep.
Ha! Any parent would have laughed us right back into reality. Nothing really prepares you for the early years of parenthood (or the later years either). The sleepless nights, the constant worry and overthinking, the struggle to remain connected to your spouse. What you learn along the way is starting a family looks more like this:
Before and After
But we got through it. One day at a time, we trudged through the newborn phase and toddlerhood. We raised up the “threenager” and before we knew it, we were on the precipice of kindergarten. One down, one to go! We could see the small light at the end of the tunnel before cancer entered our lives. Before it ravaged us and altered us to our very core. Everything in life is now qualified as either “before cancer” (B.C.) or “after cancer” (A.C.). Before cancer, I used to worry we wouldn’t have enough; enough money, enough sleep, enough time, enough date nights, enough vacations.
After cancer, my definition of enough has changed dramatically. Will there ever be enough bedtime stories, enough time in the rocking chair, enough goodnight kisses, enough time when they’re little? I will always regret the nights I hurried through bedtime because I was ready to veg out on the couch, but I will never regret making scrambled eggs for dinner because I was too busy playing blocks to cook what I had planned. Early mornings with the pitter patter of little feet are met with a smile instead of a groan. It’s time I wish I could get back with Layla and time I will not waste with her brother or sister.
Among other things, cancer was an exercise in contentment. Figuring out what matters when your head is being held under water is an excellent way to get clarity. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” Philippians 4:12. Being assured of my heavenly future has given me more peace than any amount of planning for my earthly future. What I’m promised after this life is so much more valuable than the things I have in this life. My desires for the time I have left don’t come from setting or achieving measurable goals. My fulfillment comes from the feeling I have at the end of the day and the answer to the question: Did I love my family enough today?