Monday, October 16, 2006
Thank you for being patient. We have been traveling quite a bit. We will try to keep you updated more frequently going forward. We know how many of you are concerned about Maria and pray for her each day and for that we are so grateful.
After our last trip to St. Jude’s I had a very difficult time. Everything seemed to collide at once and I lost my footing. For the first time we met another child at St. Jude’s with Maria’s diagnosis and they just found a spot on her spine. She is five and was diagnosed in December. Her mother and I talked and she expressed all too familiar frustrations with me. All I could think about was Maria is just a few months behind this beautiful little girl’s diagnosis date. After that we met with Maria’s oncologist about her MRI, which was “stable”. Not what we had hoped for. A subsequent review of Maria’s MRI by Ed and me later showed a slight increase in the size of the tumor, though it is still considered to be stable. Again we heard Maria’s oncologist saying to us “take this time now and enjoy it with her”. It was ripping me apart and I just started to slowly unravel. The days are passing and we need to be more aware of Maria’s symptoms. This thought caused panic inside of me. I felt myself starting to walk down the dark path where there is no hope. I let myself become overwhelmed.
On the plane ride back from St. Jude’s Ed and I were filled with sadness. I felt awful inside. But, in the midst of this, I look down at Maria and it struck me that she was the complete opposite of me. Laughing as she drew mustaches on people’s faces in the in-flight magazine. I was comforted knowing she was untouched by the trip. Living in the moment. Things are great now. Why are we worrying about tomorrow? When we do that we waste our here and now that is going very well. This is something I know, but I have to keep constantly reminding myself--over and over again. Be more like a child.
Each time I found myself in a situation where I was asked about Maria, I just broke down. I didn’t want to do that so I just avoided contact with people. I couldn’t talk to friends or family members because it was too painful to talk about. For the first time ever I started to question if there was a God and I asked Mother Teresa “if He is there—show me.” I can’t go on like this anymore.
Some of my most cherished moments with Maria are at the end of the day. She and I say prayers (we pray for all of you). She tells me about her day, jokes around with me and we laugh and chit chat about silly things. One night I was putting Maria to bed and she looked up at me and said, “You know Mom, no one ever really dies. They just go to sleep and when they wake up they are in heaven.” Yes, Maria. You’re so smart. I smile and tell her that is true. Then she asks me whether or not I know if there are Polly dolls in heaven. I love my girl. Then I think and realize that we really do need to be more like children to enter into God’s kingdom. They just trust and believe so innocently and they are so much happier and content for it. They are so close to Him.
There is something about Maria. I can’t quite describe it. She is very much a six-year-old girl, but I can’t help but see there is a beauty and a depth to her of the likes I have never seen before. I see it and I can’t help but know that there is a God because He has His arms around her and I don’t only see it, I feel it. There is a presence about her.
Though I feel good that He is with her, I am also frightened because I don’t want Him to take her away from me. I know that I have to let go and trust in Him. It isn’t easy for me. I know it is what I have to do. I’m still working on letting go. Being more like a child.
I don’t know if I’ll ever discover that day when I feel complete peace and acceptance, maybe not until I’m at my final resting place, but I know that I have to try. Maybe this is the struggle of our earthly life.
Wouldn’t you know it would be just like God to remind me of His presence through my own daughter, not to mention SO many of you. How could I ever question it?
I meet every other week with some of the strongest and most wonderful women I know. We study the teachings of the Church and what it means for us as wives and mothers. These are my Familia sisters. I call them sisters because I feel so close to them. They have helped remind me of God’s presence more than they probably even know. They give me so much strength.
I have another friend who sends me cards frequently to let me know she hasn’t forgotten and that she continues to pray for us. I’m beginning to think she has e.s.p. because they seem to come when I most need them. The thoughtful gifts, the prayer shawls and quilts made by loving hands from some of you we have never even met. A priest named Fr. Tim who is truly touched by the Holy Spirit. He speaks and reaches so many people. If you haven’t been to one of his masses you don’t know what you’re missing (don’t want to put any pressure on him or anything :). A neighbor and friend who started Wednesdays for Maria where they go to 9:15 mass and pray the rosary afterward (it’s at St. Raphael’s and you’re all welcome!). Another friend who organized Adoration for Maria who has been such a comfort to me so many times. Another friend who has vigorously helped me work out a healthy regimen for Maria. Friends who have given us of what they have—their vacation home so we could get away and spend quality time together as a family. Friends who organized Maria’s Benefit and 5K run. The Teamsters and their poker run for Maria. A photographer who offered to take our family picture for us. Students who pray for her daily. Kind people who come up to me or stop me just to tell me that they pray for Maria and our family every day. The list goes on and on.
How could I ever question the presence of God? He has revealed Himself to us now more than ever before in our lives. All I have to do is look into the eyes of my daughter or at any of you and I see Him.
So I have gone from very dark to very determined. I am not giving up. I’m back on my feet and I’m channeling the positive energy. As I’ve mentioned before, Ed and I have been praying and asking God to guide us. We have talked about how we can do more. So we are going to and we will tell you more about this later.
Disney. Yes we went to Disney for Maria’s “Make-A-Wish”. What a fun trip that was. We really had a great time. We stayed at a place called “Give Kids the World” and it really is a wonderland all for kids facing difficulties like Maria’s. Maria had her picture taken with all of the princesses and characters and enjoyed the Disney thing, but I noticed that what she liked most of all was just hanging out and being able to laugh and have fun with her family. I think the quality time meant the most to her and it did for me too. The simple things.
Dance. Maria is taking dance with her close friend across the street and some other friends from school. She has always wanted to take dance and the physical therapist said it would be a great idea and she was right because Maria LOVES it! She’s got the groove in her!
So, life is good.
We thank you all for your continued prayers for Maria.
With much love,
Ed and Megan