Donna's birthday, on July 20, sparked something that has taken a hold on the Donna's Good Things facebook page. If you're on facebook and haven't "liked" us yet, you might want to get on over there and see what we're doing.
The wear black for Donna tribute for her birthday touched something in me that has continued ever since. When Jeremy and I were writing in this journal daily, there was an immediate connection with all of you that helped us feel less alone with all that we were going through. It's hard to explain how that helped, but it did. Tremendously. After Donna's death, there was simply less going on to report, less need to share, for fear we would bore you all to tears. Or traumatize you. Or both.
But Donna's birthday, with the number of photos and kind words that demonstrated Donna was still with so many of you, helped. That immediacy of connection that caringbridge provided for so long was reignited. Every day since then, I've been finding and posting a "good news" story of the day and encouraging folks to read and enjoy. Some days the stories are about cancer, some days they are about charity, some days they are about something I see that strikes me as cool and I want to share. It's a hodge podge. I honestly don't know if they are having much benefit, as the comments and "likes" are minimal, but the act of seeking out something good to celebrate on a daily basis has been of use to me.
More than anything, though, the practice of seeking out good news to share has reminded me of the mission of Donna's Good Things: namely, to provide joyful opportunities to kids facing adversity and to encourage others to do good things in Donna's name. At the base of this mission is the awareness that if Donna can not fulfill her potential, we must.
Because she died at such a heartbreakingly tender age, she will never lose all that is perfect about childhood. She was good and open and honest and curious. Donna saw wonder wherever she looked. She helped us do that, too. I don't want to lose that with her gone. To honor her, we want to honor those things about her that were good. Donna's Good Things, with your continued donations, helps us do that. And we're growing.
In May, Donna's Good Things was awarded 501(c)(3) status. Just today we got word from our attorney that our Illinois' sales tax exemption has been approved. Last week we sponsored our first monthly Wiggleworm's concert at the Brown Family Life Center at Children's Memorial. Wiggleworm's is a children's music education class out of the Old Town School of Folk Music. Jay and I have been going to weekly classes since just three months after Donna died. We love them. I always wanted to do them with Donna, but couldn't because of her immune status and treatment needs. The concerts we sponsor are live simulcast to every inpatient room within the hospital, so even the kids that can't make it to a concert, or be with other kids, can still enjoy the joy that music brings. The second song the performer sang last week was, "You Are My Sunshine," a song that we sang at Donna's memorial service. She was with us.
As one of the "good news" stories posted on the DGT facebook page, I linked to a story about the reopening of schools in Joplin, Missouri, a town that was devastated by a tornado last May. Within the story was a link to an "adopt a classroom" campaign through the Joplin school district. When I found the story, the school year had just started, but I called anyway. Sure enough, there were a few classrooms available. Last week we were linked to a class of learning disabled students, ages 3rd-6th grades. The teacher's name is Donna. Donna and I have traded emails and she sent along a wish list of items her classroom needed. Jeremy and I went out on Saturday morning to purchase the items. It felt good and important and we were grateful to our donors for giving us the opportunity to help a school in need, especially given how important school was for Donna. When we checked out, I looked at our cashier and noticed that her name, too, was Donna. I cried immediate tears. First the teacher and then the cashier being named Donna - - it felt like much more than a coincidence. It felt like Donna was with us and approved.
I'm learning just how good doing good makes you feel. And it does feel like such a tribute to Donna to honor her memory in these ways. We are grateful that we are able to do these good things. I keep working at the other part of the mission, having others do good in Donna's name. That hasn't been as successful, but we'll get there. Losing a child to cancer does not qualify someone to found and run a non-profit, but we are learning as we go. We'll get there. Feel free to visit the Donna's Good Things facebook page and our web site. We have a recent upgrade where all of your good things are now catalogued and accessible. Folks can also post photos of the good things they are doing. If you need a dose of hope, please visit.
Thank you, caringbridge community. You saw us through the worst of times, the best of times, and now the rest of times. We are so grateful to you.
Still choosing hope. Sheila, Donna's Mama.