Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Reisterstown, Maryland
I just wanted to share how last week, on Thursday, we celebrated Sicily's 5th birthday. I had serious mixed emotions about the day before it even arrived. In fact, I spent half of Wednesday, the day before, shedding tears and feeling very blue, despite God's presence. I just look back and think how worse I would've felt if I hadn't asked God to help me get through it! We had read in the church bulletin that mass would be offered in Sicily's name Thursday morning by the preschool and church office staff. There wasn't a place in the world I'd rather have been that morning. It was the best way to start a day that turned out to truly be nothing short of a beautiful experience! I was able to be around and hug those who loved our little girl as much as we did.
A very sweet preschool mother made us a cake with pink and yellow butterflies on it so we could celebrate appropriately. It was chocolate. Sicily would have loved it! I also decided to face one of my biggest fears and obstacles in my grief process by making a visit to our Children's Hospital. I felt like it would be beneficial in my own healing process and the need to see the faces of the people we befriended and who cared for us over the past nineteen months became something I found myself craving. I had intended to make cookies or something to take to them so they could help us celebrate Sicily by remembering her on her special day, but time always gets away from me so I did the next best thing and bought cupcakes...really goooood cupcakes! As I approached the sliding glass doors of the hospital, cupcake box in hand, heart in my stomach.
I ran into one of the clinic doctors who we had gotten to know over the course of Sicily's treatment. My heart felt happy to see his kind face and that's when I knew that this was going to be more than okay. He walked me to the clinic and to my dismay, I found the waiting room to be full. I had honestly hoped to walk in and see the room almost vacant and the nurses twiddling their thumbs (not like they ever truly do that, it was just a vision I had hoped for). My heart sank a bit seeing how many lives are so affected by cancer...and such young precious lives at that. I was heart broken to hear how many new diagnosis have been recently made. Each one hurts me as only a mother who has been there knows! I want to cry for all the new families!
I continued to visit the back of the clinic to find our sweet nurse so I could have her get the rest of Sicily's “Beads of Courage” beads so I could complete her sixth and final strand. It was very important for me to collect the remaining beads that she had earned, as well as a glass butterfly that would symbolize Sicily's total and complete freedom from cancer. Even though things were hustling and bustling that morning, I got to see about everyone at the clinic that I had hoped to see, except for one person who was off (as she shared Sicily's birthday and I was hoping to give her a birthday hug...another day, I guess) and Sicily's oncologist, Dr. Hum, who was upstairs on the floor. It just so happened that I needed to go up to pick out the glass butterfly so I was able to see and hug her, as well.
I ran into a friend who does work at the hospital and we had a nice talk. Through our conversation we discussed the possibility of me doing some work by being trained and serving as a parent support volunteer to help other parents through difficult times. I might also help by serving with other parents who make recommendations and offer ideas on how to improve the hospital from “our” point of view. I would be honored to serve in those roles, if and when they decide they might need me. Needless-to-say, I walked out of the hospital with air under my feet. It felt so good. I was so glad I made the decision to face my fears of being there. As strange as it may sound, I miss the weekly and most often bi-weekly trips that were needed for so long. I miss the people. I miss the atmosphere. I miss the need to be there...the feeling of hope we carried with us each time. I can honestly say, despite the ending result, ours was a good experience. I will not look back in horror or dismay for what we all endured. I will use it for yet another reason to thank God for what He helped us get through!
I left the hospital and met Patrick at Elias' school were we shared lunch with him as he was the “star student” of the week for his class. Patrick and I aren't used to shoveling our food into our mouths and down our throats in such a short amount of time. Can we say, “indigestion?” The rest of the day we completed a couple of projects around the house and ordered pizza for dinner in honor of Sicily. I made sure to order half a pizza with sausage on it for Patrick so we could reminisce how Sicily would always grab a piece first and in her usual ornery voice yell, “I'm eating your pizza, daddy!” We sang happy birthday to her and snapped pictures of the kids holding angel wings with the butterfly cake. The perfect ending to the perfect day. I was glad it went so well but I was also glad for it to be over. We can now check another “first” off the long list that we will experience over the upcoming year.
Tomorrow will be the first full month. Some days it doesn't seem like it's been that long, while others seem like it was forever ago that I held my precious little girl in my arms and said, “I love you the mostest!” And she would say, “I love you all the way to heaven!” She did, didn't she? And I know she still does.
Last Friday, my sister and niece drove the two hour drive from Oklahoma City to help me do a little work in Sicily's bedroom. I was ready to start to tackle her closet, though my sister admitted she wasn't sure she was. None-the-less, they came to help and we ended up having a wonderful day. We had lunch with my adopted little sister, Walgreen's Kelli, and her sweet mom visiting from Texas. It was good to laugh and enjoy the company of others. We did not get a lot done in Sicily's room, but about as much as the three of us could handle. I just needed my sister there to be with me when I pulled out clothing and embraced my memories of when Sicily wore them or what I remember her doing while wearing them. We laughed at some of her favorite things and cried over some of the memories they triggered. They are just articles of clothing. Pieces of fabric made of cotton and pieced together by threads but they symbolized a young life. A little girl who was only meant to be on earth for a short while.
I am setting aside a bunch of our favorite things to have made into a quilt. Other pieces I need to just keep so I can touch them and hold them up so I can visualize her in them and imagine her size. She was a long, tall drink of water for a girl. She inched her way up to about four feet despite drugs that could have altered her growth. In my eyes, she was the tallest person I ever met when measured in bravery. I just hope I can live the rest of my life being half as brave as she was, no matter what I may encounter!
I've been sitting at the computer for the past three hours non-stop typing, reading, re-reading, correcting, analyzing...I wish it didn't take me so long to organize my thoughts. I guess I could be called a “turtle writer!” I'm about as slow as they come. This week will continue to be busy, which is good. We are beyond excited about Sunday when we will be participating in the 10th annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon (walking...not running, yet!). This means the world to us to see the amount of support and involvement that has evolved over the past year. It will be a time when we will gather and celebrate Sicily's life and how she has and continues to inspire us. We, Patrick and I, along with our kids (angel wings, included) are walking the 5K this year but I want more than anything to be able to run the 5K of a relay team next year, at least that is my goal. I am not a runner. It will be a challenge for me, but with Sicily by my side, I will try!
I will hopefully be able to jump back on here before Sunday to let those of you who plan on being there know where the rendezvous point is. It's in front of a bicycle shop about a quarter of a mile from the finish line. It's where we gathered last year, but I'll post the exact name and address soon.
Love to you all and have a blessed beautiful day!