‘The Shoebox’ shows music helps with grief

Published 10:29 am Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shane Jones was my “first angel” and although I never had the honor to meet him, I will never forget him or his parents.

I’m not sure how our worlds collided, or even why, but what I do know is that because of Shane and his incredible spirit, I have met many, many special friends since being drawn into a world of childhood cancer that no parent should ever have to be a part of.

It all started one day with the words, “your child has cancer.”

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Those are the words no parent ever wants to hear, but yet, day after day, more and more children are being diagnosed with cancer and within the blink of an eye, life changes.

I’m sure Shane’s parents experienced the same shock and disbelief I did when my daughter Meghan was diagnosed.

I was certain they had the wrong child or that the lab had made a very huge mistake. Unfortunately, they did not have the wrong child, and the lab did not make that mistake.

After months of treatment with chemotherapy, radiation and as a last ditch effort, a cord blood transplant, Meghan lost her life to her cancer.

It was only four short months since Shane had lost his battle. To say my family was shattered does not do our loss justice.

We are left now with memories, pictures and videos of a little girl who could charm anyone with her big brown eyes, her silly giggle and her beautiful smile.

If you met her, you loved her. Instantly. She was just that kind of child.

A month or so after Meghan earned her wings, a CD arrived in the mail. Inside this manila envelope, carefully wrapped in bubble-wrap was a disk with one lone song on it. In marker, the title “The Shoebox” was written.

I had heard bits and pieces about a song being written for Meghan but had no idea what was going on behind the scenes.

I found out later that three complete strangers had come together with love in their heart for my little girl to write a song that just hearing the opening bars, still makes my eyes well with tears and puts a lump in my throat.

The amazing lyrics written by Billy Bruce, Robert Gustafson and Alan Hamilton are written as if each of these men had been in that room the morning of Feb. 7, 2003, when my daughter took her last breath.

As my friendship grew with the three strangers from Ohio, Washington State and D.C., I was asked my thoughts about having a screenplay written about “The Shoebox.”

I was scared, but humbled to think that someone would want to make a movie to honor Meghan and Shane and the rest of the brave children who battle cancer on a daily basis.

Throughout the process there was a lot of laughter and a lot of tears while each of us came to grips with the magnitude of what we were really trying to do.

Our little song has culminated into a family-friendly movie which I hope will show the world how the power of music can help a family through their grief as well as inspire three strangers to leave their footprints on a film honoring the circle of life, friendship, grief and one little boy’s connection with a little girl far away in distance, but very close in heart.

Carolyn Mack is a Florida resident who lost her daughter Meghan to a battle with cancer.