Please note, donations made to Caring Bride do NOT go to Ariel directly. If you would like to donate to help with Ariel's growing medical expenses you can do so at http://www.teamariel.com/donate.
Ariel Rose Gariano came into my life on August 19, 1998. One of a set of twins she was already extraordinary from the moment she came into this world, but I couldn't in my wildest imagination begin to realise just how special, just how brave, just how inspiring my little girl has proven to be.
Ariel - her name means 'Lioness of God'. It's a name she would live up to within days of her birth. At the great age of 3 days Ariel was diagnosed with a laryngeal cleft, a rare airway birth defect in which her trachea and esophagus were not completely divided. Ariel would undergo multiple surgeries at two medical institutions, Children’s Hospital Oakland and Children’s Medical Center Cincinnati. We had been warned from the beginning that Ariel faced many challenges and the odds were stacked against her. But Ariel is a fighter like few can imagine and she came out of her surgeries with amazing results. As she grew older we realized in spite of the multiple occassionas that she had been oxygen deprived while aspirating she was in tact and very much a normal little girl. We really began to believe we had escaped our worst nightmares as Ariel grew into a beautiful, healthy little girl.
On October 26, 2007, however, the nightmares came back, only this time they were scarier than anything we had previously imagined.
Ariel was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma, when a large tumor was found in her sinus cavity and was encroaching on her right eye.
She would endure a year of chemotherapy, radiation, multiple surgeries and in August of 2008 she was declared disease free.
Ariel has been cancer free for 30 months and she's blossomed into a lovely young lady. Smart, Funny, Compassionate, Fearess she is so full of life it seems incomprehensible that we would be told the cancer appears to have returned.
We are beginning our next fight and we are clinging to our girl, her fighting spirit and are holding to our hearts the knowledge that nobody likes to defy the odds quite like Ariel.
She's been doing it since birth and hopefully she can do it again.
Once upon a time I was the broad who had all my Christmas shopping done (99% via the internet -I'm not crazy) for my beloved goofy and geeky family by the weekend after Thanksgiving. All done and ordered so we could spend Dec 1 finding the biggest tree available. The 3 of you kids, rolling your eyes and playing in the trees while your Dad and I bickered over my blatant disregard for mathematics, as I drooled over 12 ft trees to put in a house w/ 8 ft ceilings or worse trying yet again to con Daddy into getting multiple trees. The tree could take up to 2 days. Every ornament had its story, every decoration a memory and every year we'd find something new to string lights on (to your fathers amusement). And fresh wreaths on every door, even in your bedrooms so everything, everywhere smelled of Christmas (to your fathers dismay but it was the '1' tree compromise). There were Christmas movies every other day and slumber parties in the living room so you could all sleep under or next to the tree, Christmas lights on all night. Christmas day was always madness, but we ended it snuggled up with leftovers, and in the last few years, the end of Christmas day saw us all gathered around the fire and tv while Ariel shushed anyone who made a sound during the Doctor Who Christmas specials? Somehow, this year, it feels like Christmas died with you baby girl. Last year we brought every angel, every cherished decoration, and all of your trees to the funeral home and church so we could say goodbye for the last time, 8 days before Christmas (1 yr ago today). It was appropriate you were laid to rest with all the trappings of the time of year you loved the most, but this year, red and green are colors of mourning for us all. None of us want to see Christmas anymore. There's no driving around neighborhoods to look at lights, no nutcracker ballet, no carols, no tree, no wreath, no advent calendar to countdown the days, no weekly regrets about letting the 3 of you have cocoa at night over stuffed with marshmallows leading to sugar induced late night whispering and giggling and cranky mornings. There's no sounds of the 3 of you laughing trying to get the cats out of the tree as the attacked my bird ornaments (which I was too stubborn to leave off the tree). And Dear God I miss the groans and laughter as your puppies chased the train under the tree, barked at it, knocked it off the train tracks, Squishy trying to imitate a Rottweiler barking at a little waving Santa train and flashing lights. God you laughed so hard at him that 1st Christmas Ari. But we all feel it, we've all said it, it's not Christmas without you. There's no joy this year and I can't help thinking of that . Watching happy families, or worse, whining shoppers complaining over long lines, full parking lots, trivial inconveniences over material things, it's just a sword that cuts us all way too deep. Quite honestly Christmas is becoming one more reason your Mother might need bail money baby girl. We're hiding from Christmas Ari - the way people hunker down for tornadoes and hurricanes. The only Christmas present each one of us wants is you back with us. There's nothing else any of us want as badly as we want this horrible nightmare to end and wake up to find you safe and sound tucked up in bed. It's ironic, the 3 of you watched this tv show every year, and this song used to make me roll my eyes. This year, I cried so hard when I heard it and I couldn't help but think how much the little girl looks like Elora right now, crying quietly over her artwork, wishing you were here, wishing we were all whole once more. It will be a blue Christmas without you, if it can even be called Christmas at all. I love you so much my angel girl - Mommy