Cole. . . I Love You to the Moon and Back
by Aaron Dean Ruotsala
(Blog Tour - Mar 1 - Mar 12)
Aaron Dean Ruotsala, 24-year-old husband, father, business owner, and pilot shares a true story about a heart-wrenching experience he calls the best and worst experience of a lifetime. This story will provoke you to laughter, tears, and cause you to examine yourself and your role as a human on this temporal journey. His prayer is that all who read this amazing story will learn from the experience in which they had no choice, to realize that when life brings you to the darkest, deepest, loneliest point imaginable, you will recognize what really matters in life. So, please laugh, cry, share, examine, and mostly enjoy this book that is certain to make you ask the question: "What if this happened to me?" The reality is that it could. (back cover)
1. Aaron, in September of 2008, your three-year-old son, Cole, passed away. Share with us about Cole.
Cole was a beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed little boy who always loved to be by our side. He was the kid that would “Be There” when you cleaned the garage, mowed the lawn, sat on the steps, or when you would need someone to hug. Never in your wildest dreams would you expect a child to get cancer, especially your child. Then it happened, July 24th 2008, Cole was diagnosed. We watched him go through endless rounds of chemotherapy, surgery after surgery, and container after container of pain medications. He was battling a monster called Adreno-Cortical Carcinoma, a cancer which proved to develop a tumor the size of a gallon ice cream jug and which quickly spread to his liver, lungs, spleen, and inferior vena cava. However despite his battle his heart proved to display a greater amount of “Love” than I think I could ever give.
2. You received a groundswell amount of support during those eight weeks when Cole was sick, many stories of which you include in your book. What happened when word of his diagnosis spread?
The word of an innocent child battling for his life quickly spread from Cole’s family, to his community, and ultimately around the nation and world. The messages began pouring in…messages of hope, encouragement and prayers. Cole’s life and story began to be a living testament of the true values of life. Displaying what truly is important…with everyone realizing that through this child we are all able to search our hearts and lives and determine what truly is important. To understand that no one is guaranteed another day, as in Cole’s life he was only 3.
3. Cole, sadly, lost his fight against cancer. How has his death changed you and your family’s life?
Death- The word in itself is scary. The word with understanding is something that removes fear.
Through the death of Cole I can no longer fear death. In fact I look forward to it, because of this… Our pastor mentioned at Cole’s funeral, ”you can’t loose someone or something if you know where that someone or something is.” Because of Jesus Christ and God’s love for me, I now am able to rest knowing that this life is not our home! One day we will be together again! We didn’t lose Cole in September of 2008.
4. After Cole died, you and your wife, Moireen, started a foundation in memory of Cole that now provides support to other families facing similar crises. Can you tell us a bit about COLE’s Foundation?
The mission of the COLE Foundation is simple: To provide outreach and support to the families of children facing cancer and create a public awareness of the needs and challenges faced by those families. The foundation focuses on developing programs of support services to provide families facing medical challenges. These programs include our Adopt- A- Family program which currently sponsors over 1200 children across the United States and abroad. It also includes individual programs like Send-A-Smile that focuses on bring a smile to a child through gifts and care packages.
5. You work with thousands of families who are battling life-threatening illnesses with their children, primarily cancer. What are some practical ways that people can support a family who is going through something of this magnitude?
The Internet provides a perfect and marvelous vehicle for individuals to send hope and encouragement through messages. It is absolutely amazing how much support a typed message can leave for families. Simply log on to Cole’s Foundation (www.colesfoundation.com) and visit the children’s Web sites who are facing unbelievable circumstances. On their Web sites, you are able to leave messages and prayers for families.
6. Through your ministry, you probably see a lot of death. How can we reach out to a family who might have recently lost a child or another loved one?
One of the programs we focus on is called Healing Hearts. It is specifically designed to minister to families who have lost children. Volunteers are always needed and your monetary support is welcomed in order to continue to send them baskets of love.
7. You and your wife know the Lord, and found your faith to be a great source of support when Cole was sick. What hope can you offer others going through a crisis, whether it’s a health crisis, a financial crisis or a devastating death?
Trust in the promises of God! He tells us that He will never leave us nor forsake us! That’s a promise He has given to everyone of us. We can completely trust in that and know that regardless of what circumstance we are in He will always be there for us. We just need to do our part! If we seek Him we will find Him, if we knock the door will be opened unto us! Trust in Him and keep your eyes focused on the Lord!
8. Is there anything else you would like to share?
Without the hope that is given to us in Jesus Christ this would have been almost too much to bear. I’m not saying it was easy but what I am saying is that with the knowledge of Jesus Christ we are able to live day to day!
(Q & A were provided by Sidedoor Communications.)