We gathered as a faculty, a little over two years ago, to hear a colleague tell us that one of the teachers in our family was facing a crisis. Her 3 year old had just been diagnosed with brain cancer that had spread to the spinal cord. That very same teacher was just days away from giving birth to a baby boy. There were tears and then there were plans. We were teachers- we were used to problem solving and facing impossible odds. How could we help?
The first thing we did was plan a 5K event to raise money. Each grade level created a theme basket to be raffled off at the event. We came together as a school community and the 5K showed our commitment and love for little Bella.
Last fall, we gathered again in our faculty room to hear the heartbreaking news that Bella's treatments had failed to work. There was nothing more the doctors could do. But we had to do something to show Bella and her family our love and support. Our holiday party was switched to a fundraiser. Once again, each grade level made themed baskets to raffle off in the hopes that whatever money we raised might support Bella and her family.
Last night, as I put my own children to sleep for the evening, the post I was dreading appeared on Facebook. 5 year old Bella had taken her last breath right around dinner time.
Though I knew that news was coming, it didn't soften the sadness and heartache of a child gone way too soon after such a hard battle. I can't imagine the pain of not holding your child's hand anymore. Brushing her hair. Sharing laughs and snuggles. As a mom, you know every little part of your child. You make doctors appointments and dentist appointments and sometimes psychologist appointment or orthopedic appointments- you are involved in every health decision facing your child. After a consuming battle with cancer, how do you go from that state to a state where your child is gone from your sight forever?
I am sure my faculty will gather again at some point. We will think of a way to help honor Bella's memory and legacy. It's what we do- we come together at hard times. We help each other. There are no blessings in the death of a child but maybe lessons. One lesson here is that outcomes are not guaranteed but love never dies.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski