Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How do you make sure someone remembers you?

You may or may not know that I have a very close group of internet friends. Matt calls them my "Imaginary Friends". It's a group of about 40 of us that have just clicked. We are mostly from the United States, but also have members from Canada, France, India, Greece, New Zealand, Australia, and Haiti. We talk online on our message board throughout the day. It's this amazing place where we can discuss anything and everything. We've helped each other through difficult births, deaths, miscarriages, divorces, diseases, job loss, parent loss, family strife, and anything else you can think of. We've been overjoyed by births, in almost real time, and have cheered each other through each of life's celebrations. When A. lost her son in January, we raised over $2,000, and donated it, in her son's name, to the Afghanistan Orphanage that she donates her time to. They were able to purchase a new washer and dryer for the home. When D.'s husband lost his job, we quickly joined together and sent over $1,000 to help them cover some of their bills until he started a new job. Most recently, we're trying to help K., but her story is somehow so much harder.

During regular pregnancy testing, K.'s doctors discovered that she had ALS - leukemia and couldn't wait for chemo. Her baby girl wasn't due for another 3 months. Somehow she was able to have all of her chemotherapy done while living at the hospital while pregnant. They needed each additional week to get the baby strong enough to survive. She was a chemo super hero and we like to say that she kicked Cancer's Ass! They were able to deliver little A. a month before her due date. K. is in remission and has been home loving A. for a month. She is now facing the next step. In twelve days she will move to the Mayo Clinic where she will undergo a bone marrow transplant. She asked us, her "imaginary friends", what could she do in the next twelve days to make sure that A. knows that her mother loves her if she doesn't come home in 4 months.

First we all had a good cry. Then we told her that this wasn't necessary, she's going to be fine. Then came some fantastic ideas. Letters, to be read on her 5th, 10th, 15th, 21st, or 30th birthdays, and when she gets married and has children. Videos of them together, laughing, playing, snuggling. Video of K. reading favorite story books to A. for her to cherish and listen to as she gets older. A box full of things that K. cherishes so that her daughter will know who she was. Gifts for future birthdays. The list was wonderful and went on and on.

This whole discussion really started to hit home for many of us. Sure I'm not facing cancer, but will my children remember me if something happens to me next week? We started to think of ways that each of us could concentrate on the most important things to our children so that they will remember us no matter when we pass. I vowed to get in front of the camera more often. You wouldn't think I was around for most events in my children's' lives. Several of us vowed to spend more time playing and making memories and less time running from here to there.

Sometimes it takes a person facing an enormous challenge to realize that we too must slow down and make the most of what we have and cherish the moments, document them so you can hold them in your palm when memories start to fade.

Yesterday was Zack's birthday. I was SO sad that I didn't get to wake him up and wish him a Happy Birthday. I got to noon and had to run over to the school anyway and decided to break him out. He thought I was nuts, but also that it was the GREATEST IDEA EVER. I hope that when Zack is older and he tries to remember his 7th Birthday, he'll remember the silly day he had when his Mom signed him out of school early.

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