The Thumbs Up Ball!

The Thumbs Up Ball was today! I know we have been blogging about it for a few weeks now. What a wonderful event! The MOMS Club of Mechanicsville (Cool Spring Chapter) did all of the work for this party and it was WONDERFUL in so many ways. The church gymnasium was decorated in pink and purple with lots of handmade butterflies everywhere! It looked like a princessy prom. There was food, craft activities, music, dancing, formal pictures provided by Hayes and Fisk photography. I haven’t heard anything about final numbers but I know that over 300 tickets were sold and there were many silent auction items bid on and won! I personally bid on (and won) 2 cooking classes from Mise En Place and a Whole Foods gift certificate! All of the money raised from tonight’s event will go directly to CJSTUF! How cool is that?

I know I won’t be able to thank everyone here but special notes of gratitude are due to:
Robin O’ Sullivan, Darya Suleske, and Tracy Surratt for their leadership in the MOMS Club. I know the club has about 50 moms and all were involved in some way but these ladies were involved in a lot of the heavy planning and deserve a special thank-you.

Big thanks as well to Triad, a wonderful live band that provided the entertainment. As musicians, Roger and I certainly appreciate the work of a quality band. They were top notch and I understand they play a lot in the area so check them out. In fact, I think they will be at O’Banks next week. Speaking of O’Banks, they were one of the many sponsors that donated items for the silent auction and raffles. I also saw great prizes from local representatives of The Happy Gardener, Tastefully Simple, Pampered Chef, Premier Jewelry, DoubleTree Hotels, Aloft Hotels, Hanover Air Park Auto, The Children’s Museum, Ginter Botanical Garden, Avon, Pizza Fusion, Buffalo Wild Wings, Romp n’ Roll, The Smokey Pig, Stroller Strideswhew! And I know I am leaving some folks out.

It’s been an emotional weekend for me. I’m not really sure where it started. I was unusually weepy on my drive to work this morning. It just hit me for reasons I can’t explain. Then things got “worse” when I spent about 90 minutes working on a slide show presentation on the foundation for the event this evening. Putting Charlotte’s story into words (again) and adding all kinds of pictures just brought memories and thoughts flooding in.

Then, about 2/3 of the way through this evening’s event, I realized: Roger and I were the only adults there without kids! (I’m not really counting the grandparents…and really, they had kids there too…their adult kids!) It was truly a family event and I loved seeing some of our regular romp n’ rollers as well as many of our friends from church and the community. And yet, there remains this constant thought in my head that I no longer have a child. It really HIT me like a ton of bricks tonight.

I often hear people speak of our strength. It’s been a constant theme. Again, tonight I had perfect strangers (as well as a few close friends) come up to me and remark, “I don’t know how you do it. Where do you find the strength?” I can’t answer that question with any kind of certainty but I can truly say that I just take each day one step at a time. I keep myself busy and that definitely helps.

Idle time = thinking time = opportunities for the mind to run wild and truly make you crazy.

One Day At a Time, Baby. One Day At a Time!

The surreal essence of my new reality plays out in some really bizarre ways sometimes. After so many months (a whole year) of an intense and stressful lifestyle, I am finding the occasional solace in the freedom that Roger and I now have. I would give anything to have Charlotte back here…in my life…healthy. But when I spend full days at work and realize all that I can accomplish when I am not shuttling back and forth between home and the hospital OR strategizing on a new treatment protocol OR anticipating the next MRI or surgery, it is a harsh reminder of how much of our lives were lost in 2009.

When you become a parent, your life is consumed by your child in so many ways. Your life now revolves around their schedule: naps, eating, school, activities, vacations.

Now imagine that consumption intensified about 1000 times with a life-threatening illness.

And then imagine that one day, that all-consuming part of your life just ENDS.

Yep. It’s bizarre. No other way to describe it.

Tomorrow we are planning to go up to Bethesda to visit the Georolds. This is the family that we met in Houston, lives in Denver, but is currently pursuing an experimental protocol at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for her recurrent leukemia. They have been blessed with a lot of family support during this leg of their journey and currently things seem to be working for Allie even though she’s still struggling to get well. The experimental protocol on which they have her seems to be promising. We are looking forward to being able to see them again and support them in a small way.

Hooray for a weekend with no substantial snow. Hooray for a weekend with no cancelled birthday parties or classes. Hooray for the Thumbs Up Ball!

Hooray for our friends and family who love us everyday!

Rachel

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4 thoughts on “The Thumbs Up Ball!

  1. I have been thinking exactly those thoughts in the past weeks and wondering how you would cope…and, of course, you have and are doing so beautifully. You wouldn’t be human and a mom if you didn’t cry! You’ll always be Charlotte’s mother and I know I will always think of you that way – I mean, CJ looked so much like you!!I have taken a great deal of comfort and more than a few laughs thinking of Charlotte in heaven, just walking around, reciting plot lines, smiling with her crinkly eyes, batting those lashes, talking about Mary Poppins, etc., etc. Just makes me giggle because I can see her doing exactly that so clearly. I will always be grateful for the gift of HER!Susan

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  2. As a retired English teacher, I think you guys are exceptional writers. Through the roller coaster rides you had in 2009, you kept me both in suspense and in tears– sometimes of joy and sometimes of fear and dread. You have much on your plate– the foundation, the business, your personal lives–but, you have the potential for a supurb book. I am sure I am not the only one who thinks this. God will fill some of the void, but the spot for Charlotte is sacred space, and I respect your honest emotions. May God bless you on your new paths.

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  3. I agree with Retired English Teacher’s comments: consider putting your journey in print. As the blogging posts tell, I hear a consistent thread: You both allow yourselves to feel. In that I mean, you are not denying or ignoring whatever feelings come your way. And you speak of those feelings. The rest of us should take a note of that healthy approach in life. Once again, we can learn from you two as you continue to put one foot in front of the other. I continue to keep you in my prayers.

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  4. Rachel,The way you get through it is. . . You just DO. One day at a time. I DO know. Katie’s brother would not be here otherwise. :)Love,Rebecca

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