Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Maria!

Maria and Uncle Ryan - Christmas 2006

Maria and Mackenzie - January 2007

Hello Everyone,

It has been a while.

We wish you all God’s blessings in the New Year and hope that Christmas brought joy to all of you.

We went to Florida for Christmas. My brother Ryan got married! He is 14 years younger than me, and the baby of 6 kids. He was very dear to Maria. She held a very special place in her heart for him. I can remember back to her Christmas concert at school the Christmas before she died. She had a reading. Ryan brought flowers for her. We had just received the news from St. Jude that she had two to three months at the most. We of course never shared that with Maria. I can remember that she wanted Uncle Ryan to carry her out to the car. He had to go back to Law School straight from the concert. She did not want him to let her go. She held onto him very tightly. Finally, I told Maria it was time to say goodbye and that we had to get home because it was getting late. It was also quite cold outside. She still did not want to go. It was odd. When we finally drove away Maria suddenly started to cry. I said “Maria, what is wrong?" She said, “I’m afraid I will never see him again.” She was distraught. It shocked me. He would be back after Christmas in a few weeks, but she was afraid. I worried that she was having a sixth sense about things or had heard something. After that, I became firmly determined to continue to focus on living, not on dying, and that made a difference to Maria.

Ryan and his fiancée, Catherine, asked Maria to be a flower girl along with her favorite cousin Mackenzie, who is her age. They were both so excited about it. Maria talked about it all the time. I was excited right along with her, wanting to give her the will to make it and happy she had something to look forward to. I quietly prayed to God to allow her to make it to the wedding. As we know, He had different plans for her.

We went to the bridal luncheon. Mackenzie received a gift with all sorts of goodies that a little girl her age would love. I was so happy for her, but I couldn’t help but think about how much Maria would have loved it too. Aside from the attention walking down the aisle, something like this was so Maria. She would have loved the pretty dress Mackenzie wore. I could almost see Maria with her, smiling. Mackenzie and Maria were very close, like sisters. Mackenzie misses her buddy. My heart aches that she had to experience a loss like this at her age. My sister’s family mirrors mine in children--a girl and then three boys. Our kids are all the same ages. Now when they come into town to stay with us, Mackenzie is alone with all the boys. I know it is hard for her to be without Maria. It kills Ed and me to see her sitting or playing alone.

While in Florida, my mother had a dream. She saw Maria, along with all of her cousins, playing on the beach. Her cousins said to her “Maria, you can’t be here. You are in Heaven.” Maria told them “I can be here with you, and I am.” I don’t know if Maria is always able to be with me, but I did know one thing for certain, and that was that she would never miss her Uncle Ryan’s wedding for anything. I knew she would be there that day, and I felt her presence suddenly when the vows were exchanged at the altar. I felt as though she were standing right there by Ryan’s side. Something tells me she was.

This Christmas I felt a deep gratitude to God in my heart. I thanked Him for loving us so much to give us His only Son. I know He understands how it feels to lose a child who has had to suffer. Because of His unbelievably loving and compassionate act, Maria has a place in Heaven, and hopefully I will too someday. Having a child in Heaven, I think often about what it will take for me to get there. I pray hard and ask Maria to help me.

I will not pretend to say that because I believe in God I am ok. I do struggle. The pain is deep and a kind I have never experienced before. If I allow the loss to penetrate deeply to my core, it feels debilitating. It is not only emotionally, but physically painful. My heart physically aches. I have heard that people can die of a broken heart and it makes sense to me now. I understand it. Somehow you walk forward in life and try to keep it at bay, just below the surface, trying not to allow it to go too deep. There are times, though, when it is triggered and the pain rushes in. I think it’s ok. I need to feel it sometimes. I have also discovered that one of the keys to curing my sadness is to look outward, not inward. Inward to myself and my sorrow is a dead end. Outward has beautiful possibilities. God has so many graces to give.

Maria and I were extremely close. Our bond was special. We had a deep spiritual connection. When I look back on Maria’s life I believe God had chosen her, even before her diagnosis. Maria had a pure and innocent, sincere and unhindered faith in God. She simply believed. He knew what was to come and He took every opportunity of openness to Him to create something beautiful out of her life.

If you think about it, God is Love, and ultimately He can only make what is Good and Beautiful. I think about the Cross. Crucifying people was a disgusting and ugly practice man had come up with. God took it and, through Jesus, turned the suffering of the Cross into the most beautiful act of Love. Now we cherish the Cross. God took Maria’s cross and even in death made it beautiful. After she died, all signs of her illness were taken away. She was the most beautiful we had ever seen her. She was luminous and filled with the light of Heaven. Fr. Tim, Ed and I were blessed to witness this gift. Thank you Lord. This has reassured me. The memory will be with me forever and has lifted my faith.

Maria’s birthday is today, January 11th. God gave Maria to us 9 years ago. It is one of the best days of the year. We make it a Holiday in our home. We want it to be a tradition—a day that the boys look forward to all year and hopefully carry on with their own children. We celebrated her life today and had a fun day planned. The boys remembered Maria with so much love—as they do every day. Our love will never fade. It grows stronger with time.

Happy Birthday, sweet Maria. I tried to imagine what your birthday is like in Heaven. I know it is better than anything I could ever imagine. I want that for you Maria. I hope we are with you. I thank God for letting me share in His creation. He blessed me with the most wonderful daughter in the whole world. I can’t wait for the day when I can reach out and wrap my arms around you forever. I am so lucky to be your Mom. I love you.

We love you. Forever. Because Love never dies.

Mom and Dad, Eddie, Aidan and Blake


Anonymous said...

You have such a wonderful way of expressing yourself and teaching us all about God's love for us. I can't imagine how difficult it is to watch your niece and yearn, once again, for Maria to be present.
I wish, for one day, that I could take that burnden from you and give you even one day again of 100%happines with Maria and no sadness sitting just below the surface. You deserve that. But since that isn't possible I continue to pray that God holds you up when you are able to stand and carries you when you feel to weak to go on.
You are an amazing example of grace and I am sure that you will be reunited with Maria one day. That's when the real party will begin!!

the clarks said...

you have such a strength inside and what a way with words! It is so nice to hear from you. We think of Maria quite often. So sorry to be missong the Soiree this year because our baby is due the week before. I am sure it will be very sucessful though!
the Clark Family

Anonymous said...

Your family has been a gift to all of us. We continue to pray for you and all the other families struggling with this disease. Thanks for sharing your story. It's always good to hear from you. May God continue to bless you all with his grace.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Megan,

Thank you for sharing your deepest feelings with us. Reading your post helped me realize, once again, what really matters in life - loving others, our children, our families, and most of all - Jesus Christ our God and Savior.

May God fill you, Edward, and your children with His presence, His peace, and His Holy Spirit.

Happy Belated Birthday to Maria with Love, Aunt Pam

Anonymous said...

I can only hope that your words help other families devastated by the loss of a child.

I pray that you continue to look outward towards God when you struggle.

I think that Maria Day is a wonderful holiday to celebrate.

God Bless

Anonymous said...


I continue to check Maria's blog often. Thank you for the update. I think of you and your family all the time. I hope your pain eases. I know when I am having a bad day I look at Maria's picture and it helps me. Thank you for sharing her!!


Kristin said...

Wishing you peace and love...I know Maria's birthday in Heaven was wonderful beyond anything we could ever imagine.

Anonymous said...

I think of you and Maria often. I pray for your strength even more. Thank you for this beautiful post, for sharing your thoughts and struggles. I will continue to lift up you and your family in prayer. I know you will be reunited in heaven with your beautiful Maria one day. This I am certain.
Gina R.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Megan, Thank you for your update. With tears in my eyes, I hung on to every word. So beautiful. God has chosen you, Megan, to reach out to us so poigniantly and in such a beautiful portrayal of The Cross! I also believe Maria was chosen by Him at the moment of her birth. God is in charge and He has a plan. You are the beautiful writing "tool" He is using to help spread His love and kindness. I feel such a glow and feeling of calm after reading your posts. God bless you and your loving family always. And may God bless precious Maria and keep holding her in the palm of His hand. Love and prayers, Deb Goodfellow

Anonymous said...

May God Bless your family and Maria. She is smiling down on your family from heaven and she is very proud.

You are always in my prayers

Anonymous said...

Dear Megan,

We must all remember that we are no different than Maria. We all have the opportunity to bring the Lord into our lives. Maria's story is not only inspiring,it's witness that the Holy Spirit will reveal himself, do his work and provide us with insight and opportunity to live for what truly is the beginning and that is the day we go home. Eternity is not just a word to be taken lightly. It is a promise! Thank you for all the gifts you have given me. Love ya, Deb

Anonymous said...

Megan, you are truly an inspiration to all of us. You should write a book. You express your feelings faithfully and with such grace. You are Jesus for all of us. God bless you today and always.

Anonymous said...

Praying for you, your family, Maria, and all the families touched by DIPG today.

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with you today! Maria comes to our minds so often...this is a day we would all like to forget! Be strong and walk with God today by your side!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You are an inspiration to all mothers, Megan. Happy Mother's Day. Thanks for inspiring us as you were on your journey with caring for Maria. She was lucky to have you for her mom. Thanks for openly sharing the experience with all of us.

Anonymous said...

Always thinking of all of you. We are all still here.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you today, and always. Sending prayers your way.

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you today (7/14)! May God guide you and walk beside you in peace with Maria's loving memories. We miss Maria's beautiful smiling face!

Anonymous said...

Your strength is truly amazing. I think of Maria often, even though I never knew her, she is very special in my thoughts. I send you prayers & good wishes.

The Kaisers said...


Happy 11th Birthday Sweet Maria!

We love and miss you so much.