How where you able to handle some of the inappropriate/obsessive attention Allie got even when you where dealing with your loss. You always seemed so gracious.
This has to be one of my favorite questions asked during this Q&A. First, thank you for the compliment. I don't know if I've always been gracious, but I've certainly tried. When I started journaling about Allie's journey on the website, it was most certainly not for recognition. It started first and foremost so I could keep friends and family abreast of her treatment. Do you know how difficult it is to relay the same painful story over and over again throughout the day? I couldn't handle it and needed a way to dissiminate the information in an easier way.
And then, the story grew. It spread through the internet, propelled by BabyCenter as well as the Dallas Morning News and WFAA stories. It was overwhelming at times. It was inspiring at most. There were times where I realized that people really felt like they knew us from my writing.
Since May 2004, I've been spotted at some interesting places. We've had a few dinners interuppted, been stopped walking through the mall, greeted warmly at the grocery store, and even met someone in line waiting for Santa Claus. Do I mind? No. I've opened my life up in this way. There have been some overzealous people along the way, and there have been some downright rude and hurtful people. I've had to learn to deal with them. I remind myself that what I share here on this blog is still only a portion of me and my life. I remind myself that by allowing people in my life, I allow them the opportunity to say what they think. People aren't all going to like me or how I've handled things. There have been a few things that have crossed the line. When I had a woman comment in the guestbook a few weeks after Allie died that saying she beat her cancer was a "slap in the face" to all those that survived cancer, I was furious. That got to me. I couldn't help but crying when someone posted the ugly comment after Maggie was born that she was "ugly and I hope she dies a slow and painful death like your other daughter." While I realize that was some heartless person who found some fun in such a cruel comment, that one got to me. I immediately deleted it when I read it, but it has obviously left a lasting mark on me.
Some of the greatest people in my life have come into it because of Allie's story and my website. One of my favorite people and a Heroes for Children board member got involved because she opened the Dallas Morning News and read the story of a dying little girl who was six days younger than her own daughter. Not knowing me, she came to the candlelight vigil for Allie and even attended Allie's funeral. She went on to start Heroes and Handbags and because of her, our organization has grown exponentially. And how about my favorite sweet Office Manager? The best Office Manager Heroes for Children has EVER had! If it wasn't for my online journal (I don't know that I had even heard the term "blog" back then), Cheryl wouldn't be in my life. And my life wouldn't be the same without her, that's for sure.
And there are the friendships. The incredible friendships I didn't find before Allie. I had some. But not like I have now. I didn't have people like Dana, Larissa, Tracey, Jen, Amy. And my life is better because of them. These women are not just my friends, they are my family. They followed my site, they read of my pain, and they supported me. I strengthened other friendships. Bond between me and Deb? Will NEVER be broken. It is rare for me to go longer than two days without speaking to Larissa. We, of course, talk about HFC and what is going on, but we share so many details of our lives together. She is more than my co-worker and co-founder with Heroes for Children, she is my family.
I guess my answer is really that I have taken the good with the bad. But for all the bad there was, and there were the times for sure, there were so many more good times. And I don't regret what happened.
Do you ever go to Baby Center anymore?
I found it too painful. I just can't put myself out there in that way. I tried being a member when I was pregnant with Maggie, but kept finding myself feeling bitter, sad, or downright depressed when reading. That wasn't a healthy time for me during that pregnancy. I was not in the best state of mind, and remembering my sadness every time I logged onto BabyCenter didn't help. I still get the emails about the development of my child, but that's the most I do with BabyCenter.
Out of Obama, Clinton & McCain - who will you vote for and why?
Obama. I align myself most with his ideals.
Another blog I read just did something like this:
What were you doing 20 years ago?
15 years ago?
10 years ago?
5 years ago?
What are your plans for tomorrow?
okay admittedly that's a lot of work... but it was interesting to read and made me think about my own plans, etc.
Phew!! Am I the only one tired just thinking about this all?? I would imagine that answer would be no.
OK, 20 years ago--I was living in California in the East Bay of Contra Costa County (Pacheco). I was ten years old. Most likely, I was traipsing back and forth between my house and my friend Amber's, who lived one street over. Since it's May, I would have already been begging to be spending my time in the pool. I lived in the pool in the summer, chlorine induced green hair and all.
15 years ago--Finishing freshman year of high school at Clark High School in Plano. I really don't remember many good things about that year. I still wasn't out of my ackward phase (wait, have I ever gotten out of that phase??).
10 years ago--I was about to be engaged! I just KNEW it! Of course, I thought I was going to be engaged at every nice dinner, every walk outside that felt right, and every quiet time together. Of course, I was 20 years old and slightly stupid, so you know. I was just finishing my sophmore/junior year of college (finished college in three years, so that was sophmore and junior year in one). I left for France that summer, and was engaged to my wonderful, handsome, awesome husband the day after I returned. That was a magical summer.
5 years ago--I had just found out I was pregnant with our first child! It was Mother's Day and I had fainted in the shower the day before. Deb and Angela both told me that I was probably pregnant. Knowing they just had to be wrong, I jokingly told Andrew about it as we walked through the grocery store (to get ready for a dinner for my mom that night). Sure enough, I was pregnant! Turned out I was more than eight weeks pregnant! And I was over the moon!
Last year--Getting ready for my brother's wedding! He was married Memorial Day last year.
Today--Well, silly, it's a Wednesday, so I was WORKING!! It was a good day. We had a great board meeting last night where we had final approval for our newest staff member to be joining us (two weeks from today!) and we spent time getting ready for that new milestone in our life at HFC. Larissa and I went with our Chairman of the Board, Allan Rayson, to have lunch with a very special woman today. It wasn't the first time we've met Linda Armstrong Kelly, Lance Armstrong's amazing mother. Let me tell you--that woman is a ball of fire. Her story is one of childhood abuse, teenage pregnancy, raising a tenacious wild child as a struggling single mom, and now dividing her time between advocacy, inspriational speaking, and enjoying life with her 8 grandchildren. I think I could have spent hours speaking with her. I enjoyed every minute.
Tomorrow--It's an easy day in the office. I have some pressing tasks of getting financial assistance requests done, paying for three payments that are emergency requests that must be handled via credit card (one utility payment, one car payment before the car is repossessed, and one payment for carpet cleaning so a transplant patient can return home on Friday after months of living in the hospital. He must come home to a clean home, so we have to pay for it by noon tomorrow). I have a finance meeting with our Business Manager, and we're all home tomorrow night. Maggie got an "Ariel Sprinkler" this week, and we've been having a blast running through the sprinkler together. I end up soaked, but giggling so much!
As for the rest--I really don't know. I hope that I will be working with one of the leading childhood cancer organizations in Texas. I want to see Heroes for Children continue to grow and benefit cancer families in the best capacity possible. I hope that I am still meeting my girlfriends for lunch to giggle and have Girls Night Out. I sincerely hope that I have happy, healthy, semi well adjusted children (child?? Jury is still out on that). I very much hope to be married to Andrew and continuing to enjoy his love, companionship, and wonderful friendship.
And one day in my lifetime, I hope to hear the amazing news that cancer has been cured.
From Kim S....
What is Maggie's first and middle name?
Margaret Elizabeth. And I love it! I love to say it, even when she isn't in trouble. I love when she says it too.
How did Maggie get her nickname Munchie?
We love nicknames. Andrew nicknamed Brandy "Mahoney" when she was first born. It's a joke because he kept insisting to name her that a la Police Academy (really just to annoy me). Though he doesn't call her that as much anymore, we still both refer to her as that every once in a while. The two of us, and only the two of us, called Allie "Pookie Bear." Well, that and Allie Cat, Kitty, Kitty Cat, and Snuggle Bug.
A common nickname for Maggie is Maggie Moo. Maggie's nickname in full is Munchie Moo. Munchie is simply short for Munchkin. Andrew called her a little munchie when she was first born, and it became Munchie Moo. We call her Munchie Moo, Munchie, Munch, Crunch and Munch, and even Crunchy (that's more Andrew though, not me). When talking about her, we refer to her as The Munch just as we used to call Allie The Girl. Just our terms of endearment.
When I was a little girl? I was Jenny Penny. Andrew was BoBo. I think he had it the worst if you ask me.
I know you went through some issues with God when he took Allie to live with him, but my question is "Where is your relationship with God right now and where do you see it going within the next several years and why?"
This is a difficult question for me. I prefer not to discuss religion with people and squirm about it. Always have. My current relationship would be nonexistant. I would rather not go into the many reasons why, but I have my reasons. I'm not angry with God, I can tell you that. I'm not angry with any one or anything about this situation. I've found my own peace with it.
Time to close for the night...
OK, so no wonder why we're on part four of these answers--I take a really long time to respond to one question. I have several friends that want me to try out the new blogging concept, Twitter. You can only use 250 characters on Twitter. I obviously struggle at that. Both in writing and most definitely in speaking. 250 words or less for me? I wouldn't know how to function.
I'm going to close tonight because I've had a raging headache off and on all day and it has returned once again. I'm happy tonight since David Cook took home the American Idol title and I got to have a nice dinner with Maggie, my mom, and my grandma (love when its the four generations all together!). Getting ready for the three day weekend. Mom is taking the Munch Saturday night. We're most excited about going to see Indiana Jones on Sunday morning before picking up (obviously I'm not going to church, so Sunday mornings are my favorite time to do activities such as this!).
Are you sick of my answers yet? I have to admit--I'm having fun with this!