Lucy Grogan, Co-Founder of Lucy's Love Bus

Lucy Grogan, Co-Founder of Lucy’s Love Bus

It was New Year’s Eve, 2010. It had been three years since her daughter had passed after a long four-year battle with cancer. Despite not feeling very social, Beecher Grogan forced herself to go out to a neighborhood party. Finding it hard to interact with adults who weren’t sure what to say, Beecher found herself wandering around looking for Lucy’s friends. Hours later, it was their love, their solace and their support that inspired Beecher to fulfill her promise to her daughter, Lucy, six months before her passing: that together, they would ensure that other children with cancer had access to the integrative therapies that included yoga, acupuncture, massage, Reiki and therapeutic horseback riding that were so profoundly comforting to Lucy during her own treatment.

It was that special connection between Beecher and Lucy’s friends that ignited the spark for Beecher to begin the stages of carrying out Lucy’s wish. Before that, she was barely surviving; she knew what Lucy wanted her to do, but she couldn’t find the strength… until now. With the help of Lucy’s friends, the 501c3 nonprofit Lucy’s Love Bus started its engine and set off on its beautiful ride, taking along with them as many people that the love bus can fit into Beecher’s hands and her heart.

Grief is a scary and taboo subject in our modern world. There is no time to grieve, to process, to digest. There’s no place to go to feel, to express emotions without being judged or without feeling responsible for bringing up someone else’s pain. And especially when you lose your child, the space between what was there before and what is yet to come is a hollow place to be.

Kahlil Gibran says:

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

Grief is a place that wipes you out and makes you begin again. It is a place where an old self dies and a new being is reborn. While experiencing the stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—it is important to surround yourself with people that will hold the space for you, that won’t judge you, that won’t try to diminish what you’re feeling or try to make you feel better.

Beecher Grogan took her grief and transformed it into service. But before she could live out her dharmic path, Beecher ponders that she possibly had to accept her daughter’s first. Lucy loved butterflies. Knowing the short lifespan of butterflies, Beecher wasn’t so enthusiastic about it at first; but in time she realized that maybe Lucy was meant to be here for a short time, and that maybe her life was intended to be exactly as it was. Lucy was beautiful, wild and carefree and although certain times during treatment, she may have lost her spunk, Lucy was always an old soul with an inner strength and intensity that made her wise beyond her years.

She was a smart, beautiful, independent girl whose intensity and boundary pushing gave her the ability to deny the status quo and to fight for children like her. She wanted to deliver love, comfort and quality of life to all children with cancer. She felt that a cure was very important, but recognized that no one was addressing the immediate suffering that she and her friends faced every day. Lucy took her grief and turned it into change.

Lucy’s Love Bus is a nonprofit organization that delivers comfort and quality of life to pediatric cancer patients in New England by providing funds for integrative therapy services, as well as engaging young people in activism and philanthropy through Lucy’s KidCorps™ program. These programs are the platform that brought Lucy’s spirit and wish into reality.

Lucy’s Children™ Integrative Therapies program offers funding on an individual basis to children with cancer for integrative therapies in their home, at the hospital, or on hospice. These therapies include acupuncture, massage, yoga, swimming, horseback riding, and more. For these children who feel powerless in their fight with cancer and not many choices in their treatment, they finally get to choose how they can be part of their own healing. Beecher remembers those long days in the hospitals and long days of seeing Lucy dealing the pain and nausea from the side effects of treatment. She knows firsthand that these treatments provide relief and something to which they might look forward.

Beecher’s ultimate dream is to provide an integrative therapy every day inside the hospitals while children receive treatment; and to eventually have the hospitals fund the integrative therapies. The Healing Room™ program offers integrative therapies like music, yoga and meditation, and massage in three New England hospitals. Lucy’s KidCorps™ and Lucy’s LoveSquad™ are the school-based programs that include a 45-minute interactive presentation and classroom visits to introduce Lucy’s story, share facts about childhood cancer, show a video, read Lucy’s book (A Lion Inside), and empower children with actions encouraging them to #LiveLikeLucy to make a real impact on a social problem and show that they are capable of making a big difference!

Beecher is a spirited woman herself, dedicated to living out her child’s dying wish as an advocate for children with cancer. She empowers kids to get involved and provides support for parents who are going through what she has experienced herself.  She sees this path of grief as a spiritual one; she chooses gratitude. She is grateful for the time that she got to be Lucy’s mom. Lucy and Beecher had a very strong bond from the day Lucy was born. Lucy knew that she needed to give her mother a way to help her heal when she was gone; and so Lucy gave her a survival tool by asking her mother to fulfill the job that she couldn’t finish.  Beecher has the spirit of Lucy, but now instead of fighting for her child with cancer, she fights for every child with cancer.

Beecher had to go through her own spiritual path of grief. There was a long stretch of time where she was surrounded by her own pain and was holding on so tightly to it that she could no longer feel Lucy with her. On that epic New Year’s Eve night in 2010, everything changed. She found the energy to face each day, and Lucy was by her side. She feels her now; she can see her in meditations.  And, she makes decisions inspired by Lucy’s vision, along with her Board of Directors— which includes some of Lucy’s caregivers. Lucy’s spirit delivers what they need along the way to keep “the bus” running.

Lucy’s Love Bus has learned over time that they are a bus; not a train, not a plane or a jet and they work best making a difference in their local communities because time is of the essence with these kids who are suffering. There is no other nonprofit in the country offering this kind of care for children with pediatric cancer.

The path of grief is different for everyone but each stage of growth helps to inform the next just like the path of the butterfly. The caterpillar must rely on itself within the cocoon and grow its wings in the dark; and when ready, it must shed the old layer and trust. “She took a leap of faith and grew her wings on the way down,” said David Brinkley.  Butterflies represent transformation, change and metamorphosis, a symbol that you’ll find painted on the actual Love Bus: a 1970 VW Westfalia used for parades. Though Lucy’s time on this earth was short, her spirit is still with us and is driving the Love Bus.

When I asked Beecher about Lucy and what kind of kid she was before the cancer, it was like Lucy was there listening and smiling. Her spirit reminded me of myself, and I felt compelled to want to offer my services in the spirit of Lucy. If you are a grant writer that would like to volunteer your time, a yoga studio owner that would offer a fundraiser class, or if you are simply inspired by Lucy’s story and want to give back, email the organization at: info@lucyslovebus.org to find out more. Lucy’s Love Bus is this year’s chosen charity partner for LA YOGA/BOSTON YOGA’s Second Annual SUPERFLOW happening on February 5th at the Hotel Intercontinental in downtown Boston.

For ticktets and event details, please visit: https://tickets.brightstarevents.com/event/superflow-boston-2017

Amy Sullivan is a writer, a yoga teacher and yoga therapist. She also travels the world leading yoga retreats, workshops and facilitates Yoga Teacher Training Programs. She was featured in Origin Magazine, Mantra Magazine, Yoga Journal and was the Yoga Journal Cover model for March 2013 issue. After 5 years studying and growing exponentially in California, she is happy to be back in her hometown of Boston. You can find her regular classes at Down Under Yoga in their three Boston locations. Her classes are heartfelt and intentional, creatively constructed to be challenging and compassionate and also filled with precise alignment, intuitive hands-on enhancements, light-hearted humor, a little sass and a lot of love. Connect with Amy through her website www.amysullivanyoga.com and on Facebook and Instagram.