“To know him is to love him”

The title of this post is taken from Caden Beggan’s community facebook page. Unlike I, you have probably been following his story. I just read about Caden today. It is always gut wrenching to read of a child and family enduring something like this, but what caught my eye was his name. Caden Riley Beggan. His first and middle name being the names and exact spelling of each of my sons. He is 6 years old, just as my Riley is.

This is a lengthy post. I have copied excerpts from posts written by his father on his community page. I am astounded by the faith of this man. The purpose of this precious ones struggle falls under one of those things that we spoke about several days ago that I just don’t understand and wouldn’t be able to change even if I did.

I am forever changed after reading this family’s journey.

November 9
“Dear friends,

Friday. Some 17 days after contracting a highly virulent infection (meningococcal septicaemia), Caden is alive.

Its malignancy, its utter loathing and disrespect for life knows no bounds. It is a mephitic organism whose stench will forever pervade my future; a poisonous and offensive bug whose sole purpose, it’s very reason for existing, seems to have been for the ruin of my son.

But, Caden . . . my champion, my hero, that tough little warrior fights on with the heart of a lion and continues to defy the odds. *His* existence will forever be a credit to him, a badge of honour, a praise to his Father in Heaven.

Let the Angels sing, Caden is alive!
Dance on your tears, Caden is alive!

I have not really seen the sun much these past two weeks, but a friend persuaded me to take a walk yesterday, and perhaps even consider a haircut (I’m assured that one was long overdue). So I did, and I did. A very kind hairdresser listened while I shared a little heartache and peppered it with a little hope. I even stopped by a clothes shop on the way back to the hospital and purchased something warm for the winter.

Daylight. Haircut. Shopping. Caden.

The streets were crowded, people everywhere busying themselves with their daily concerns, and then there was Caden. People talking, and Caden. People walking, and Caden. In every phone conversation as people raced to their destination, Caden. In every shop window, in every Christmas decoration, Caden. Then, the sun, in the last few minutes before retiring for the evening; so conspicuously absent from the dark shadows of the last 17 days, opened my eyes.

Caden was still alive; is still alive and lying in a hospital bed some five hundred yards from where I was standing. Right there, in that bustling sidewalk, I lifted my voice to the heavens, and declared that day a good day. How can I mourn the loss of a son who is still very much alive?…

I pray and I hope as one walking on thin ice, afraid to move this way or that for fear of plunging into a black abyss of despair. Last night, I fell asleep on my knees. I had few, if any words, but I held on to every ounce of faith I had and this morning I came to Caden’s bedside with a steely determination. My son lives. My son wants to live, of that there’s no doubt, and for as long as I am his father, I will fight with him and for him using everything I can. I cannot *make* him better, but I can pray. I cannot fix him, but I can share his remarkable story.

…I have begun work on a storybook that we hope will help Caden understand what has happened to him while he’s “been asleep.” It began with a dream that his Mum had. In the story, our intrepid hero (Caden) has to battle a very vicious and wicked monster. In the end, Caden defeats his foe, but with a heavy price. He then spends some time being transformed into a superhero who in turn helps others to fight their demons.

#KeepOnPinking
#PrayForCaden

Caden’s Dad — with Angela Beggan and Rachel Catherine Pattison in Linthouse.”

November 10
Day 18.
“Caden is alive.

…More upsetting was having to break the news of Caden’s hand to his elder brother, Declan. Declan is strong though, and through tears, he spent time with his brother, talking to him and asking many questions about Caden’s future. Even Ethan was excited to we Caden today. “I want to get closer daddy,” he insisted. I am greatly encouraged by this, since I really believe healing is beginning in their hearts also.

Declan’s grief was a stark reminder of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. My heart once again echoed his sorrow, “It is NOT fair!”

In truth, it is nothing short of an atrocity for which no one will be held accountable. There will be no court of arbitration, no sentence passed, or day of recompense. A merciless pestilence has perpetrated its appalling crime and I am condemned to watch my son’s slow demise as piece by piece he is stripped of his dignity, and I feel powerless to affect the final outcome.

Where is the outcry? Where are the mourners? Why aren’t you wearing black when you show up with your platitudes? Let the laughter cease and the wailing commence, for my precious Caden lies bruised and battered, slain in effect; cut down and trampled underfoot.

My heart bleeds, “It is not fair!”

And yet . . . There is so much suffering in the world, suffering that until recently, has been kept at bay, and has kindly observed a safe distance from my front door. Everyday, on the way to see Caden, I pass numerous sick children whose parents’ faces are painted with desperate anguish; desperate to have their pleas heard by some Higher Power capable of doing what they wish they could do for their own child. All around us, children are dying. So with all this suffering, can I really yell, “Foul!”? Who am I that I should be exempt from these miseries? Who am I that I should be spared this horror? Who am I to question why it did not happen to a nameless other?

I am persuaded that no matter how horrific my affliction, there will always be someone worse off than I. Can I really compare my personal grief to that of another? Isn’t their suffering just as valid as my own? Even if, unlike my Caden, their offspring still looks like their child. Even with a valid claim to pain, such as the agony I feel right now, can any of us ever truly understand what it is like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? The cry, “Unfair!” may very well itself be unfair.

However, I have observed something else alongside the suffering. In the midst of the worst, the very best has come to light. From all over the world, near and far, angels of mercy bear witness to grace and share their compassion. They come with love and with gifts, with consolation and comfort. And the grace that they attest to falls upon my brow to soothe my aching. What started as a trickle is becoming a flood, a wave of mercy bringing its relief.

In the shade of my Father’s covering, I will rest a short while and gather my strength. I will let him tell me of his great love. Let him convince me that he has not abandoned me. Let him show his loving-kindness greater than any other. Let it be so. Let it be so.”

Excerpt taken from post on November 11
“Another Sunday. Another day. Another hour. Another minute.

Every day an anniversary; a landmark celebration of Caden’s life, of Caden’s struggle, of Caden’s victories. Every day a memorial; a tearful reminder of the life Caden once had, of Caden’s losses. Every day is a thousand years. Every day is a fleeting instant. Every day an angry shout. Every day a tender whisper. Every day a mournful procession. Every day an adrenaline shot. Every day a troubadour’s song. Every day a dumbstruck tongue. Every day an isolation. Every day a crowd of comforters. Every day alone, but never alone.

Always whimpering, always smiling. Always down, always up. Cursing and blessing. Hating and loving. Agonising and hoping. Lying and promising. Fearing and trusting.

I crave the crags in the caves where the light does not disturb my lament or the saltwater waves irritate my wounds. I long for the mirth of pastoral country; simple and serene and seeded with brighter tomorrows. I am one day this, and one day that, but I am always these: Caden’s dad and my Father’s son.

I am not here to talk about me though I am deeply grateful for this space, for this community of compassion, where weary pilgrims, such as I, may share their story. I am here to talk to you about my dear six-year old son, Caden Riley Beggan.

He is my waking, my morning; my sleeping, my yawning. His smile shifts even the darkest clouds. His rantings and ramblings, his playing and his mischief are staple foods in my daily diet, and each aspect of his beautiful self is as nourishing as the next. I have placed, at times, such hopes in him; dreamt of futures and possibilities that every father would do for their own child. I suppose the truth is I see so much of myself in Caden. I have talked to God a thousand times in terms of my past, wishing my son(s) would repeat none of my mistakes, and do everything I wished that I could have, that I should have.

I’d think nothing of spending hours watching him as he etches with his pencil his fantastical worlds – a resplendent imagination. In spite of the fact that most of Christmas Days or Birthdays consisted of co-building Lego kits (though he needed no help), I wouldn’t trade one father-son play-date for any kind of treasure you’d care to mention.

As I sit and watch his fragile body, some foot and a half shorter than it should be, dressed in black scars and plastic, I still marvel at the beauty of this exceptional piece of craftsmanship. Perhaps, God’s finest moment.

It is as tragic as the rip of a saw through the Mona Lisa. No! Even more so, but I’m still compelled to laud his life; to lionise my son; to glorify my Father in my admiration of Caden’s true beauty.

The true beauty of the Mona Lisa is not in the painting itself, but in the mind of the one who created it. The true value of such a priceless work of art lies not in the single view of any critic, but the admiration of the many. And there is much to admire about my son, not least of all his courage.”

Excerpt taken from a post on November 18
“…We are not who we were, as Caden himself is not who he was. We are the first words in a new chapter, and writer’s block seeks to rob us of our imagination for the future. We are at the edge of an abyss, blindly groping our way around for a footbridge. We will not fall victim to despair. We will give no quarter to the sorrow that would inhabit our lives. We grieve, but with hope, and for many tomorrows, as many as God sees fit to grant us.

You may pity my misfortune and together we will mourn our losses, but if you cry with me, then you must also laugh with me on that glorious day when together we pen the words, “Caden is awake!”

November 20, 2012

“Dear friends,

Caden Riley Beggan
Born 29th September, 2006
Died 20th November, 2012
. . . in Mummy and Daddy’s arms.

Thank you for all your support.

Caden is alive forevermore . . .”

If you would like to send cards to the family, please feel free to send to the family home.
David and Angela
1 Wishaw Low Road
Cleland
ML1 5QU

9 thoughts on ““To know him is to love him”

  1. Pingback: The Mother is always to blame | Even A Girl Like Me

    • Hi Laura Anne,
      Thank you for sending me what your friend wrote. What wonderful verses! I cannot begin to imagine what the family is feeling. My heart breaks for them in the midst of this storm. I am confident that many will be greatly moved by Caden’s story and the faith of this family.
      Blessings to you!
      Joy

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