To CJ, on your 8th birthday

Dear CJ,

Today is your birthday. If you were still with us, you would be 8 years old.  As I write this, I realize this means that after this year, you will have spent more time away from us than with us.  We still miss you every day.  Your friends have gotten older.  They are almost unrecognizable as they move up in elementary school.  You never made it to Kindergarten.  I still see you as a four-year-old preschool princess but your friends are going to be in third grade in September.  That is difficult for me to comprehend. I sometimes try to imagine what you would look like as an eight year old. 

When I think about how much we lost when you died, I also think about what you have inspired.  In four years, we have given away over $60,000 to families who need our help. This money goes to kids just like you who need support in their time of need.  Every week for the last year, we have also served meals on the 7th floor at MCV where you spent so much of your time in 2009.  We have supplied almost 3000 meals in a year’s time.  Now we are working with the Ronald McDonald House in Richmond to supply meals and entertainment for families as well. 

Butterfly Get Well Cards made by Troop 19
There is more to the story than the work that CJSTUF does, though.  You have inspired so many people to do good things in the world.  You have inspired Girl Scout troops to make get well cards for kids in the hospital and volunteer their time to help other families.  You have inspired hundreds of people to give donations, big and small, to our organization.  Kids just like you save part of their allowance for us.  Other children (and adults) dedicate their birthday or other special days to our organization so that friends will make donations instead of bringing presents.  People often tell me that your story (our story) has inspired them to appreciate life more fully (even the yucky parts). 

Do you remember Mr. Charlie “I Cry” Taylor who worked with your dad at WHAN Radio? He was the one who named you CJ the DJ when you tagged along in the afternoons to Roger’s radio show.  Well, that nickname was the inspiration of our next big fundraiser.  CJ the DJ’s Bluegrass (Mostly) Boogaloo is going to be a blast! It will be a full day of Bluegrass and Folk/Americana music that will have people of all ages dancing and groovin’.  Yes, dear Charlotte, you continue to be our inspiration.

Today, we will eat one of your favorite foods (pizza) at a CJSTUF fundraiser at California Pizza Kitchen.  We will raise our glasses in a chocolate milk toast and celebrate you and all that you have inspired.  Thank you for choosing us to be your parents.  We will always love you!

5 thoughts on “To CJ, on your 8th birthday

  1. Rachel,

    I am continually amazed by your grace and ability to turn this incomprehensible loss into something positive. Thank you for writing this. CJ is missed today and every day but her impact is incredible and hopefully always will be.



  2. I don’t know what to say. Your blog today made me cry, and that itself is rare. I love what your foundation does, and I just need to write a check, hug my wife, my three daughters, my ten grandkids, and my two mutts. Rachel, thanks for this blog and your most generous spirit. I send blessings.

    Dennis, father to Emily Starrett, Meg Helsley, and Amanda Folsom


  3. Rachel & Roger,

    I have to say that you are two of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. You inspire me to not just be a better father, but a better person in the appreciation of life and all its attributes. I know you don’t know me personally all that well, but like a close friend or family member I send you a big hug with all I can give to say I’m
    here and our family will be for all we can offer to help support you and CJs.


  4. A touching letter….I miss you at Primrose but know that you are making our world a little better in whatever you do, wherever you do it. She had a short life but is living on in your heart and all these great works. Peggy Rios


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