It's Allie's birthday today. She would be four. I had a baby four years ago?? Sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday that I found out I was pregnant, Mother's Day 2003. What a present that was!
Maggie could not have been any sweeter today. She slept in (hallelujah--that means *I* slept in!!) and then we snuggled and watched TV for over an hour. We didn't rush, we didn't stress. It was nice. We ran some errands and then went to the Heroes for Children office for a little while and had a quick meeting with Cheryl and Christi. Andrew met us there and took the rest of the afternoon off. He hasn't come with me to the hospital for our birthday tradition in over two years, so it was a VERY big deal that he came with me. We had a quick lunch together at Chick Fil-A, picked up a decadent cake for Doctor Goldman. We went together as a family to visit the outpatient clinic at Medical City.
Dr. Goldman greeted us immediately and ushered us over to meet the patient at the infusion center. "Did you ever get help from Heroes for Children?" he asked the mom. "Well, she's one of the FOUNDERS! Come here, Jenny!!" The mom gushed her thanks and her son was so very sweet. We enjoyed a nice treat with Dr. Goldman and the nurses. Dr. G wasn't as interested in the cake at first as he was with Maggie. This is why I love this man--he put her on his lap, cut a piece of cake, and fed her cake and icing. He kept saying, "this is my birthday present--this is the best present I could have!" The nice treat for me today was not only did I get to visit Dr. Goldman but both Dr. Weinthal and Dr. Lenarsky were there as well. What a treat to get to see all three of them. Dr. Weinthal did make sure to remind me of his birthday in July!
Dr. Lenarsky asked me if I would like to meet a sick little girl newly diagnosed with Wilm's Tumor, a tumor of the kidney. The four year old was diagnosed 13 days ago with cancer. She's the youngest of five. Last week, we mailed her a check. The child has had cancer for less than two weeks and HFC has already helped. The mother profusely thanked me for our help. I got a little choked up watching the little girl lying limply in the bed. A flashback hit me of my Allie laying in that very same bed in that very same room vomiting uncontrollably as I listened to Dr. Lenarsky report to me that Allie's first round of chemo was not successful. She still had 50% cancer in her blood after one grueling month of chemo. We had been hoping for less than 10%. Our intention was to come back in that day for her bone marrow aspirate at the clinic, then up to the transplant unit for a quick 8 day round of chemo. The plan was 8 days of chemo then three weeks at home. Those three weeks never came. We sat at that room with our horribly sick baby and she died less than four months later, never going home again. So, yeah, I choked up just a little.
While we were at the clinic, Deb, my fearless Co-Director of Camp Discovery and awesome oncology nurse at Medical City, called up to 12 South to see who was working. Both Kochumol, Cindy (Allie's two favorite day nurses!) and Michelle (Allie's favorite night nurse!!) were on the floor. We were for sure heading to 12 South! I went up to the window at the nurses station and quietly knocked on the window. Looking up expecting to see a patient visitor, Michelle squeeled when she saw us! In a flash, everyone was out in the waiting room to say hi to Maggie and give big hugs. It was a great homecoming to them all. Again, I choked up talking to Michelle. When I told her Allie would be four, both our eyes filled with tears.
When Maggie could handle no more, we decided it was best to hug and head home. Maggie crashed in our car on the way home, and I got the pleasure of sleeping with her softly on my chest for more than two hours. For me, that is pure bliss. There is nothing better than a sleeping baby (though Andrew reminds me she is definitely not a baby anymore, I refuse to accept that!) on your chest. I could remain that way for hours.
Dinner with the Kriegers was a perfect way to end our good day together. My heart is full. I'm so thankful that I have spent the day honoring my sweet angel.
Happy Birthday, my Allie. We miss you every single day.