All I can say is that July 28 is probably my least favorite day on the calendar each year.
This past Sunday, July 28, marked the fifth year since my mother Rose Mary Buffalo died of cancer. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about Mom, especially when I’m having tough day at work. I can remember how she used to keep me out of trouble and on the straight and narrow. I could be a little hot-headed back in the day and now that I’m editor of the papers, I try to remember all that she did for me at work as well as for when I was growing up.
Earlier this year, our papers became involved with promoting the Relay For Life in Lonoke. We ran first-person accounts from cancer survivors in our coverage area of Lonoke and Carlisle. The second one we ran was about Chris James of Lonoke. Chris was very active in our community as a member of the school board, helping with the Relay For Life over the years, among other things that he did. His wife Karen is the director of the Wade Knox Children’s Advocacy Center and they have two sons, Madison and Christian, who are both active at school and in athletics, particularly baseball.
For Chris, he was diagnosed with colon cancer Jan. 4, 2012. He had surgery to remove the colon tumor. By this time, the cancer had metastasized to his liver and lungs.
"Though it took a short while for this news to ‘sink in,’ God’s Amazing Grace and Peace almost immediately engulfed me and filled me with the ‘peace that passes all understanding,’" Chris said in his story that was printed in March 2013. "From that day forward, I have never looked back and asked ‘why me’ or fell into the abyss of self pity."
From time to time, I would see Chris at his boys’ baseball games. Even when he didn’t feel like it, he would still come to the games and sit in the car with Karen, showing support for the Jackrabbits.
Well, Chris was a survivor to the very end. And unfortunately for those who know him, love him and respect him, that end came on July 28, 2013.
The outpouring of love and support for Karen, Madison and Christian was overwhelming. For anyone on social media in Lonoke or Prairie County must have seen some messages of love and support for the James family. I know I sent messages on Facebook and via text to all three. And they even responded to me, which they didn’t have to do but was much appreciated. I told them that I thought my mom was there when Chris arrived and Karen responded "She was standing there with open arms!!!"
I must say this. The James family is a very strong one. I know they will get through this as I did when my mom died on the same day five years earlier. It will take time but knowing that we will see our loved ones again does make it easier.
Mark Buffalo is editor of the Cabot Star-Herald. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org