Monday, December 17, 2012

Just Incredible....Despite the Tragedy

"It's so senseless...we know so many, too many, families fighting to save their child's life and then this senseless act of pure evil happens.  It just sucks the life out of you....but onward we will go, as you and so many did today...Thank you.  So much.  I'm sure you, Michelle, as one of the early supporters, must be marveling with everything that has been happening as we are."

A post from Gretchen, Cookies for Kids' Cancer founder to Michelle Riddle, amazing mom of three and pediatric cancer advocate.

Wow, yesterday was just incredible.  But tragic as well for many families back east.  My heart is breaking for the families and the young ones who lost their lives in the unjust and utterly mindless acts that were committed against them.  We work so hard to save these precious children from tragedy yet, in one senseless moment, so many of them are taken away from us.  It's just ridiculous and my heart aches.  I just can't think of one more child having to deal with something so horrible...caught in a moment of sheer terror and I'm finding my emotional capacity is already maxed.  I haven't been able to watch the news on the tragedy or read the articles.  If I stop and think about what really happened, I will just fall apart.  I have to hold myself together for my little girl and her fight but our hearts go out to the families that suffered an unimaginable loss that day.

A post from a friend of a friend that I needed to share..."While we cannot protect our kids from terrible things, we CAN introduce them to loving and helping others.  Go Team G".  In the wake of a tragic moment, we still were able to come together as a supportive community and share in the joys of our little ones.  How truly amazing when people come together for a cause. There are so many individuals and groups that I would like to thank but letters will be going out in case I don't remember them all.

With the idea blossoming and coming together in only two and a half weeks, it was a true miracle of Christmas.  It all started out as a glimmer in my daughters eyes that lead to caring individuals working incredibly hard and making it happen.  Deb and Glenna from Seagate coordinated forces with Marjorie and Susan from Jacob's Heart and Kellie from Surf City Coffee.  One incredible thing after another happened for this event to come together.  I think the Santa Cruz Sentinel explained it best.  Pretty soon local businesses were getting involved and graciously donating.  A special family actually brought a bike for Gabriella!!!  Since she already has one we agreed that it should be donated for the raffle.  Whoever you are, thank you so much for your kindness!   There was also a special visit from Bumblebee, the polar bear from The Train to Christmas Town and his elf, which the girls were delighted about.  We got to meet up with a few of the children who are in active treatment, many now dear friends we met at Camp and meet childhood cancer survivors.  Wow...I just love meeting survivors and hearing their stories.  They are like angels sent to remind us that everything is going to be ok.

We had told Gabriella that there was a special event happening in her honor and as the day got closer, we told her we would be celebrating her birthday with the whole county.  Since her last difficult chemo the previous Friday, we saw our little G once again fight for her health.  By the middle of the week, she was feeling pretty good and we were getting really excited about the big day!  On Wednesday, she asked me, "Mamma, are you going to make me a cake for my party on Friday?".  Oh goodness, how could I possibly say no when I have made her all of her birthday cakes in the past.  I couldn't have just bought one.  It's for my G and she's quite special.  Normally it takes me weeks to plan for a cake; design, ingredients, structure, etc. but on wednesday night I started furiously baking...going as fast as I possibly could because I knew time wasn't on my side.  Thursday we had an appointment for her weekly chemo at Packard, which went really well.  Home, groceries and more baking, decorating in between getting dinner going, bedtime, etc.  Luckily I have such an amazing man (aka. Adam/Daddy/Babe) who is always willing to support me even when my ideas are crazy.
Gabriella and Bridget were both so excited when Friday came.  Gabriella even picked out her favorite red dress that she was going to wear.  Once we drove up, she said, "Oh my gosh...that's amazing" and her eyes were as wide as saucers.  As she looked at the snow being blown, the decorations up, the Christmas trees, the tents and all the helpers who made this happen, I think she was overwhelmed and quietly joyful...true to G's style.  Bridget and G got to play in the beautiful white snow with such delight.  Then Santa came.  G immediately knew that it was Papa (her grandpa) probably by the way he walked and she just loved the idea of Papa dressing up as Santa.

There were over 300 families that participated in Gabriella's Snow Day, Jacob's Heart raised $4,800 for childhood cancer support services, and Cookies for Kids' Cancer raised $1,400 which will be matched by OXO in support of research.  Most importantly, this event brought much needed smiles and hope to families and children.  The whole experience was delightful, incredible, amazing...are there any better words to describe it?  What an unbelievable opportunity that this community has given us in supporting my daughter, raising awareness for childhood cancer and bringing smiles to the faces of so many children and families that day.  After a tragic loss, this couldn't have been more needed and more appreciated by so many.

I'm always looking for signs of hope and I always find them; a rainbow in the storm... a beautiful 
crescent moon after an amazing snow, a perfect cold front for snow in Scotts Valley, a beautiful picture of my little one inspiring and giving hope to others... The other day Gabriella was looking at the clovers in the garden that reminded her of lucky 4 leaf clovers.  She says, "Momma, look at how many clovers there are.  We must be really lucky".

Yes we are G.  We are lucky to be surrounded by strength, love, and hope from so many.