A Story of Coincidences

by Lis Hanneman


My story starts with my 19-year-old son Nathan Carlson Crowe being diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumor in 2011. That did not define him, he was really known for his love of the drums, drawing, playing and listening to music, nature, fishing and laughing.

We did all the protocols, but this is a cancer that keeps coming back. We did chemo, cyber knife (a radiosurgery), radiation, temodar, avanstin (two drug treatments) and 3 resections to remove cancerous tissue. Over the 5 years that he lived with this I started to attend a local support group called Fox Valley Brain Tumor Coalition that met once a month and also put on a fundraiser every September called the Journey of Hope Walk. Nathan chose not to attend the meetings and did not want to go to the fundraiser walk until 2015.

My family and friends started to go to the event with me in 2012 and every year after that. Five months after his attendance at the 2015 walk, Nathan passed away on February 13, 2016. Because of his love for fishing and the many fish caught at a local nature center, we had a bench overlooking the river dedicated to him on his birthday, May 28, 2016. Many times, there have been massive amounts of dragonflies in the parking lot and along the trail leading to his bench. Tears come to my eyes every time I visit.

That September in 2016, my friends and family attended the Journey of Hope Walk to honor Nate. Two days before the walk, I receive a card, story, and keychain from The Dragonfly Project in my mail. At the start of the walk every year, the microphone is available for those that want to say something about beating a brain tumor or about a loved one. At the event I told my story how I received this gift from The Dragonfly Project two days ago. I then had my three grandkids, age 11, 14 and 16, read the story by Walter Dudley Cavert. It was so touching and such a coincidence.

That year my heart tugged at me, touched by the volunteer who sent the card, a woman named Jennifer. What better way to make an impact on those that are grieving over the loss of a child. I had never known the dragonfly story before. In August of 2017 I wrote to The Dragonfly Project and asked if I could volunteer. I was assigned a territory near me in central Wisconsin to find obituaries and send a Dragonfly card, keychain, and the Dragonfly story to offer hope in our time of grieving.

The Journey of Hope Walk was coming up in September and I was planning on going and meeting up with friends and family again. My sister and her family from Minneapolis were also coming and stayed at my home in Appleton the night before. During their visit, I told my sister Mara, for the first time, that I had volunteered to send out cards for The Dragonfly Project. To my amazement she said that she too had asked to volunteer! Her territory was in Pennsylvania. How could that be – neither of us had discussed our thoughts to each other during the whole year. Yet we were drawn to this project. Coincidence, yes.

The next day before the walk, I told Nate’s story and the coincidence with my sister, finishing with the dragonfly story. So many people came up to me and said how touching that was and that they had never heard the dragonfly story. One other coincidence, in 2015, Nathan gave me an artsy birthday card loaded with dragonflies and the saying, “By letting in the light, we welcome transformation and realization of dreams into our lives.”

In my mind, this is a story of someone else in control, making circumstances happen and having happy positive outcomes even though we are in a spot we all prefer not to be in; but with coincidences, life is bearable knowing that a card, story and keychain can make someone happy. Children that have passed are looking down on us and I believe they are trying to make us smile. py. Children that have passed are looking down on us and I believe they are trying to make us smile.

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