Message from the Chairman of Smiling with Jerome
There is no doubt that the loss of a son creates extra depth and complexity to one’s grief. Indeed, when Jerome passed away, the feeling was as if someone has grabbed a giant samurai-sword and just cut me right down the middle. I asked myself, ‘How am I supposed to go on with one leg, with one arm, with half a brain?” Confronted with such a devastating reality, I kept on asking myself, “How am I supposed to face what lies ahead?”
Before this ordeal started, I always thought that when a person you love is sick or suffering, you begin to grieve before you experience the actual loss. I used to think that in some cases you may think that most of your grieving is already done. But in reality, despite all the possible preparations, the grief that occured as soon as Jerome closed his eyes for the last time was beyond all my expectations……..
Jerome was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma in December 2013 and we talked frankly about it. He went through repeated surgeries, radiation, medical tests and consultation together with chemo treatment, both in Malta and the UK, over the 3-years-10-months until 6th October 2017. I thought that because we had talked so much that there would be no grief. I really thought that I had resolved all that. I was completely wrong!!
Notwithstanding the roller-coaster ride we had to go on during this period, my wife Josette, our youngest son Jethro and I decided to focus our energy in remembering the good times and cherishing the wonderful memories whilst at the same time live each day moving forward. The three of us were determined to focus our thoughts on what is before us and how we intend to get there.
Very often I tell people that there are three important stages that one needs to think about: You cannot go back. At the same time, you cannot stay where you are. Essentially, you have to be determined to go forward. True, life without Jerome will never-and-never be the same, but we must look beyond…….
Our belief is that in many cases, the best remedy for grief is to find a way to touch somebody else’s life. Josette, Jethro and I decided to change the focus of our thoughts from ourselves onto other people. We were determined to open our eyes to the needs around us. We genuinely, and humbly, believe that through our experience we have developed new character traits and knowledge, and we have received encouragement and consolation with which we, in turn, can comfort others.
Our beloved Jerome himself, through his vibrant energy, positive outlook and charismatic character, has helped us face this reality in such an inspiring way! He is and will be with us forever………..
Always remember that in life, what matters most is not what happens to you but what you do with what happens to you. And this is what we did….. Josette, Jethro and I have embarked on the “Smiling with Jerome” initiative and we really believe that with every ‘smile’ we get, our satisfaction gets bigger-and-bigger. During 2018, “Smiling with Jerome” was registered as a proper Foundation (no. LPF-273) and a Voluntary Organisation (VO/1564). It also forms parts of “The National Cancer Platform”. In March 2019, as a Foundation & VO, “Smiling with Jerome” was duty-bound to publish its Audited Annual Report & Accounts which following a rigorous audit conducted by PriceWaterHouseCoopers’ (PwC) Audit Firm, we are pleased to report that the Foundation has been reported to be fully compliant with Foundation/VO rules and regulations and that its transactions are fully transparent and accountable.