This Month’s Thoughts from the Family of Erin Metcalf
The true inspiration behind Camp Erin is the memory of a remarkable young woman named Erin Metcalf. Jamie and Karen Moyer developed a special bond with Erin, and her family before her passing at the age of 17, in 2000. The camp was soon started by the Moyer Foundation in Erin’s memory to honor her passion for life and desire to help other kids and teens.
The Great Blue Heron and the Shooting Star
(what has become the logo for Camp Erin)
During the two and a half years of Erin’s illness, she had a heightened sense of beauty and clarity and was open to the ways that God let her know that He was with her. There were many miraculous and mystical events that transpired during Erin’s journey, but the two that stand out and remain symbols of Erin’s spirit are the stories of the great blue heron and the
( As told by her sister)
The story of the blue heron begins many years ago when we spotted one caught in barbed wire along side of the road on Whidby Island. As we’d recently moved from Pennsylvania, we’d never seen one before and the images of a huge bird so helpless and vulnerable left a lasting impression on us. (We were able to free it with the help of an animal shelter). From that day on, we were always on the lookout for blue herons and, unfortunately, our sightings were few and far between. It wasn’t until Erin began her treatment that the herons started making regular appearances. Erin would look for a heron as she crossed the 520 bridge (in Seattle) to go to the Children’s Hospital, and we can’t remember a time that she did not see one. In fact, it got to the point that she could rely on seeing one in the same spot, perched on top of a log, each time she passed. On the day of Erin’s death, she and my mother were being transported across the 520 to Children’s Hospital by ambulance. Erin was unable to look out the window herself and asked my mom to look for her heron and sure enough it was there. That night, after Erin had passed, she immediately let us know she was okay, and that she was free. As we drove home from the hospital at 2 o’clock in the morning, a huge heron was standing alongside of the freeway, so close that you could have reached out and touched it.
The story of the shooting star begins the night before Erin’s liver transplant. While we were on a jet to UCLA, Erin looked out the window and saw the biggest, brightest shooting start she’d ever seen. She was the only one that saw it and she took it as a sign that she would be able to get a new liver and make it through the transplant just fine. Just before her transplant Erin met with the doctor that had been caring for her at UCLA and told her about the shooting star and her belief that everything would be OK. Her doctor looked at her incredulously and told her that she was just about to tell her the same story. She too had seen the biggest, brightest shooting star at about the same time and had thought to herself that it was Erin’s star and that it meant that the transplant would go well. That transplant did go well and the following January, for Erin’s 16th birthday, her doctor registered a star in her name.
The story doesn’t end here. We took Erin’s ashes to Hawaii, as she’d requested, and spread them in the water near a bluff that she’s found particularly special. The night before we left, we revisited the bluff to say good-bye and were presented with four brilliant shooting stars, one for each of us. Yes, it is just like Erin to send us a little reminder – there is beauty and infinite goodness around you and always a reason to be grateful.
• Marie Metcalf, sister of Erin