Well time keeps passing, doesn't it?
Life without Donna continues. We are busy. Like crazy busy. So much to do and so little that needs to get done actually gets done. Life does that. After our last post, Jay celebrated his third birthday. He is growing, thinning out, very much a Daddy's Boy. It's hard to believe, but we are preparing his pre-school paperwork and application for the fall. Fingers crossed, he will attend the same school Donna did.
That is all good news, and yet there is sadness. Yesterday we were driving home from the grocery store and Jay asked what made Donna sick. I used the word "cancer" with him -- something I never did with Donna. It feels like there is no need to shelter Jay from cancer the way we sheltered Donna. Many days it feels like a kick in the gut that we had a daughter who died of cancer. Oddly, it still feels surprising, unreal.
Donna's Good Things is in the midst of our first major fundraising effort and it will benefit St. Baldrick's, the leading private funder of pediatric cancer research in the world. After Donna's Cancer Story was published in September, a reader of my alter ego, Mary Tyler Mom, was moved to do something, a Good Thing, in Donna's name. She suggested a St. Baldrick's head shaving event. We loved the idea and fully supported it, though I worked to contain expectations.
There is nothing worse than setting a high bar where Donna is concerned and not meeting it. For safety and sanity's sake, I suggested a goal of $20K. "$20K in a Day," I started calling it. It felt good to actually be doing a Good Thing in Donna's name inspired by another. Well, turns out my expectations were for naught. Eighteen days before the event, we are just shy of raising $40K. Our new goal is $50K. $50K in a Day for pediatric cancer research.
What a wonderful thing.
And yet, it still is without Donna. That's the rub, you see. All these Good Things move forward, but without Donna. She inspires all of it, but is there for none of it. I'm still struggling trying to figure that one out. Full disclosure, it never feels like it will be enough. Is it possible to do enough good in this world to honor her? And I have that thought and express that thought and just feel like a jerk because of it. I never want to diminish or discourage the Good Things that others do in Donna's name.
So, obviously, this is written from a place of deep sadness. It ebbs and flows, my friends, and right now that sadness is flowing pretty freely. Writing about it will help, if memory serves me correctly, and someday, maybe someday soon, the heavy sadness will ebb again. I think about the words of another Cancer Parent, a writer, who detailed his child's cancer treatment and death at Children's Memorial in a New Yorker piece last year. He likened losing a child to gaining an organ whose sole function is to produce a constant flow of sorrow within the body. Mine is on overdrive right now.
Thank you for reading, for remembering our girl, for doing Good Things in Donna's name, for keeping us company all these days later. Oh, and I'm not shaving, but Jeremy is. If you would like to sponsor him, here is a link -- he is working to raise $3K, and is about two-thirds there.
Much love and still choosing hope. Sheila, Donna's Mama.