Sunday, February 10, 2008

Happy February

Aidan, Maria and Eddie - Thanksgiving 2006
Hard to believe this was but a year ago. Maria was doing so well.
That tumor came back and we just couldn't stop it.
We were so helpless. I ask every day--
What would have stopped it? If I had only known.
I would have done anything to stop it.
That is why we have to fight for those now and those yet to come.

Hello Everyone,

I wrote the following post on Thanksgiving Day. Due to technical difficulties, I never posted it, but wanted you to know…

Happy Thanksgiving.

Today we think of all of you. We think of the kindness that has been shown to our family and how grateful we are to you. What an impact your kindness has made in our lives! We thank you and we thank God for you.

Last Wednesday I was asked to speak to a group of Girl Scouts at their annual Thanks and Praise Ceremony. I attended the ceremony last year when Maria read a line at the podium of what her troop was thankful for. Her troop was there again this year. Only, of course, Maria was not. This year the girls decided to collect and donate toys to St. Jude’s in honor of what they did to help Maria. What a beautiful thing to do. A troop leader asked if I could talk to the girls a little about St. Jude’s. At first, I was a bit frightened. I did not want to stand up in front of the girls and risk the chance of choking. I thought that perhaps it would be best if I wrote something that could be read to them by someone else. As I sat down to write something, it slowly came to me that it would be best for me to speak to them. I didn’t think too hard about anything because I felt guided, and so I just went where I was lead. There was a little nervousness when I got there. Seeing all of the girls brought back memories and that is hard. I looked at the girls from Maria’s class and they are getting bigger and time is moving on without my girl. Maria was with me though. I could feel her presence. I felt she wanted me to do this and so I knew she would see me through it, and she did.

Though it was the girls’ thanks and praise ceremony, I felt very thankful to all of them. I felt thankful that they are keeping Maria’s memory alive. I felt thankful for their grace in how they have handled the death of their friend. I felt thankful for their parents who have had to see them through the death of a friend. It is not easy to walk a child through something like this, but I know that each parent had to. It was obvious to me that the parents, too, had done it with grace because I saw some of the greatest kids I know sitting there in that Church.

As I looked around at the girls my memory recalled a moment after Jesus Day. We had just finished sharing lunch out in the yard at St. Raphael’s with Maria and it was time for the students to head back in to class to finish up the day. I walked Maria into the school and many students were walking up and down the hallway. I was a bit worried because I knew that with Maria’s eyesight and balance it would be difficult for her to guide herself down the hallway and back to class. Just when I decided I would take her back a good friend of Maria’s walked into the building and instinctively took her hand and said “C’mon Maria, I’ll walk with you back to class”. Maria kissed me goodbye and I watched her friend carefully lead her down the hallway. There was no fanfare. It came as second nature to this little girl. She knew her friend needed help and she helped her. She did not make a big deal out of it, and Maria, who otherwise would never want any attention or help, knew she needed her friend’s help and accepted it. As I watched them walk down the hallway tears came to my eyes, partly because of the affirmation that Maria was slowly deteriorating, but mostly because of the feeling it gave me to see such a pure act of kindness shown toward my daughter. Though it may not seem like much to some, acts like that meant everything to me. This is the way Maria’s classmates are. They loved Maria and they looked out for her. It came naturally to them and because of that there was nothing that made Maria feel self-conscious. It didn’t stop at her fellow students either. Teachers, aides, children in other grades—many people reached out to her and loved her without making her feel different. I thank all of you. It did not go unnoticed by me. It meant a great deal to me that you would care for my daughter the way you did.

The Saint Raphael community has been like one I could never have imagined. Grace, kindness and compassion are the words that come to my mind. You live your faith. I am extremely inspired by the many generous acts I have witnessed and received and I want to pass it on.

Outside the gym door at St. Raphael there is a picture of Mother Teresa and beneath it a quote of her’s that says “unless life is lived for others, it is not worthwhile”. The St. Raphael community understands this well. Ed and I feel blessed to call this community Family. God is at work there. Thanks to the example of this community, I am humbled, and I am learning that when you immerse yourself in a life that is lived for others that is where God lives and that is the only place I want to be. I sure have a long way to go...

As for Maria—

Going forward there are many things we think of that we want to share with you about her. We will do this in time. The journey continues and this site has been a source of comfort to our family--a place we can go to share her story and honor her memory. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Until the next post, a package came yesterday from Pamela in Cincinnati. We opened it today on Thanksgiving. Not a coincidence. You know we don’t believe in them. Thank you Pamela. I hope you don’t mind if we share “Visitor From Heaven” with everyone because we think it captures beautifully what is in our hearts.
Visitor From Heaven - Share on Ovi

Visitor From Heaven
Music and lyrics by Twila Paris

Vocal by Pamela Pretot
Piano accompaniment by Craig White

A visitor from heaven,
If only for a while,
A gift of love to be returned,
We think of you and smile.

A visitor from heaven,
Accompanied by grace,
Reminding of a better love
And of a better place.

With aching hearts and empty arms,
We send you with a name.
It hurts so much to let you go
But we’re so glad you came,
We’re so glad you came.

A visitor from heaven,
If only for a day.
We thank Him for the time He gave
And now it’s time to say:

We trust you to the Father’s love
And to His tender care,
Held in the everlasting arms
And we’re so glad you’re there.

With breaking hearts and open hands,
We send you with a name.
It hurts so much to let you go
But we’re so glad you came,
We’re so glad you came.

We wish all of you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving.

God bless,
Ed and Megan