Dear Loved Ones,

Waking up this morning and playing back last night’s event in my mind was surreal. I’m blown away, truly. I never thought so much good could come from such a terrible diagnosis. I wish I knew the head count for last night’s fundraiser…I can’t even begin to guess. 

The night started when Mario and I arrived with the girls around 7:30. With Elena’s counts low (her doctors did approve of her being out for a small part of the night), I kept her in a carrier on my chest. Initially, she wasn’t happy in the least to be confined and stuck on me. Even when her immune system is failing her, my spitfire wants to run wild. She does not want to be stopped or held back by anything or anyone. The hour that the girls spent there was overwhelming. So many people wanted to meet Elena and see her beautiful smile. Initially, she was only supposed to stay until about 8.  It was 8:30 when she hit her wall and had had enough. I’m so happy she was able to go, even if she doesn’t understand why we were there. Annalise was beyond excited about the event, thrilled that her teachers from last year came to see her!  It’s so important that Annalise feels and sees this tremendous outpouring of love and support for all of us. This has been very difficult for her, knowing the words “cancer”, “chemo”, “immune system” etc, but not understanding why certain things have changed. It’s something we work on everyday, and I hope that we’re doing right by her through all of this. 

After the girls went home (my sister was kind enough to take them and get them into bed), I was able to greet more people and do my best to thank them for being there. The Stafford Volunteer Fire Department presented us with cards that everyone had signed. These people have come into our home, twice in the past few months, to deliver the food donation given to us by Ocean of Love in Toms River. The week of Thanksgiving and Christmas, they took time out of their busy schedules to help us. Many were wiping tears from their eyes as Elena and Santa had a touching moment. And when Annalise climbed into the fire truck, joy of epic proportions was abundant from every single one of them as they watched her press the buttons, turning on the siren and the shock and delight in her face as they wailed. I’m framing those cards. Each one of their signatures mean the world to me and I look forward to the day that I can show Elena and tell her about those nights and the kind people that were a part of it. 

Then it was my turn to speak…choking back tears, I know I didn’t get to say everything I would have wanted to. Where does one begin? If I listed everyone that I need to, I would still be on that small podium more than 12 hours later. I’m so thankful- for the support from so many. It’s incredible. It’s uplifting and overwhelming. I’m thankful for the generosity from all of you, I truly don’t even want to think about where we would be without it. But most importantly, and this is the point I was trying to get across last night; I am thankful for your inspiration. You have all become my lifeline and source of encouragement. More so than I could ever put into words.  I hope you know that I mean it, with every fiber of my being. 

So thank you, to my dear friends that have called to encourage or let me cry to them. To my neighbors that have helped me with Annalise when needed and introduced me to the people that would be instrumental in getting through this journey. To old friends, and acquaintances who’ve shown up to offer renewed friendship and support. To new friends that have come into my life because of Elena’s cancer but will stay because I couldn’t picture my life without you. To family that cares and wants to fix things they cannot. To every single stranger that has given to our family, whether it was a share on Facebook of a fundraiser or you reaching into your pocket to help. Foundations, and doctors and businesses and nurses and….everyone. THANK YOU!!

It took me a minute to decide how to address this thank you letter. Dear Everyone? Dear People? No….Dear Loved Ones is appropriate. Because no matter what category you fall into from the above mentioned ones, I love you. All of you. For more reasons than I could possibly list or explain. And I will forever. 

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