The John R. Crosby     Memorial Foundation
Included in this section are Foundation Updates, and essays written by Paula.
After John died in 2001, my mom, aka Nana, wrote an essay about John. Here is an excerpt:
John Robert Crosby was remembered by everyone who ever met him as that cute little boy with glasses and a beautiful smile. John was kind, compassionate, unselfish and compliant. He never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings or so anything wrong. He didn’t want anyone to be mad at him, but he was also his own person. He knew what he liked, and what he didn’t like, and he would let you know that!
He didn’t like crowds and if there were too many people around he would find a place where he could play or read alone. When he was younger if you asked him what color he liked he would say brown or gray, and his favorite ice cream was vanilla. Around the age of six, he declared that his favorite color was green.
He never asked for much as far as toys were concerned. He was happy with what he had. One Christmas all he wanted was “Gl’oreal” watermelon shampoo and an Owl Clock he had seen at Meijers. He liked sharing his brothers toys.
His best forever friend was Lissa. She lived next door, and they met when both were about 2 1/2 years old. One day when they were about 3 years old Lissa wanted John to go to her house to play, but he told her he couldn’t because Nana was coming to visit from Chicago. I had never met Lissa before and shortly after my arrival the doorbell rang and Lissa stood there wanting to know where “The Nana” was. She came in, scrutinized me and then said, “I like your lipstick”. Then she went back home. When they started school John would go to Lissa’s to get her and wait for the school bus. That stopped after everyone at the bus stop would tease John about having a “girlfriend”.
For many years he LOVED Volkswagens. We would look for different colored ones for him. One summer I was buying t shirts for the boys and saw a VW one for John. The next time i went to Ann Arbor I gave it to him and he said, “I’m done with Volkswagens!”.
There was a time when he wouldn’t eat hot dogs anymore. He said, “Hot dogs will kill you!”, and he was probably right. He didn’t like to waste time, and he often said, “What a waste of time”. Maybe he knew something we didn’t.
At his school every spring they hosted Special Person’s Day. For the performance John was in the front row because he was smaller than the other kids. The students sang songs and recited something to go along with the theme of the program. John who was usually shy, or so we thought, stood up there and made faces and gestures and smiled the whole time. After the program many people commented on what a kick they got out of him and said, “What a ham!”.
When they visited us in Key West in February of 2001, John was in good spirits and smiled and laughed a lot he loved the show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” and he could answer a lot of the questions. One night I told him that next year he will be able to answer the $32,000 question and he answered right back, “no, I won't”. We liked to walk to Dairy Queen at night and John surprised us all by getting a chocolate cone one night, instead of vanilla, so I ordered the same thing and we sat next to each other on the red bench there and enjoyed our ice cream.
Papa was going to retire that year and there was talk about us spending more time in Ann Arbor with their family. The day they were leaving Key West I remember John walking onto the porch on the way to the car and he asked Paula, “When Papa comes for a month, can Nana come too?” Little did we know that I would spend a lot longer than a month at their house that summer.
For John’s 8th birthday party that year he had no trouble making a list of kids he wanted to invite, normally he just wanted a few kids, but this year the list had sixteen kids on it! The party was at Chuck E. Cheese, even though he found that mouse to be “creepy”.
John loved his brothers, his school, and second grade broadened him in more ways than one. It was all in preparation for John’s next life challenge, being diagnosed with cancer.

My Life After Death: Triggers
My Life After Death: Triggers
We all experience them…we have a moment, receive a phone call, attend an event, have a visit from someone, or come across a tangible “something” that triggers the memory of someone who has died. For me, it happened today. After having three out of four kids home for a visit with family on Sunday, then taking kids back to campus, having our eldest head back to Cincinnati, then a stop at the cemetery, I was truly doing OK. But, then the biggest trigger happened Monday afternoon…the Ann Arbor News reported that our local Max and Erma’s was closed. Now, to the majority of people this truly would not be a big deal…it was a local place where food may have been subpar and the service not that great, but for me, and my family we had a history with, as my kids called it when they were little, “Max and Mermas”. They loved it when we would go with their Nana and Papa, and Nana would get the “Erma Burger” and she would eat the whole thing. Or when their dad was out of town they would ask to go out for what they thought was a “fancy dinner”. With this closing a piece of our family history is gone…. but, mostly, a piece of John is gone. A closing without true closure for this family.
Birthdays are a big deal in the Crosby Flake Family. Many have heard me say more than once that, “each birthday is a gift wrapped up in itself”, and the best birthday gift is having the opportunity to “grow older”. The kids, no matter what their age, choose a place to go for their special celebration. For many years, Walter chose Mongolian BBQ, Henry only chose Applebee’s once, when he was turning 4 years old and they made the HUGE mistake of singing happy birthday to him and he cried and said he was “never coming back to this place again...!”, Lexi loved the Melting Pot (another place that recently closed, sad to say), and Scott loves TsuKasa (similar to our own Ichiban). While John chose Joe’s Crab Shack one year, he didn’t like it when they had him dress up in a Batman costume and pretend to fly around the room. From then on, it was Max and Erma’s. Every year. The last birthday he celebrated here on earth was at Max and Erma’s. He LOVED the food, the sundae bar and all of the fanfare they had for him.
In the early years of John’s Foundation, we participated in Max and Erma Days where John’s Foundation would get a percentage of that day’s sales. It was always a fun event to participate in as we would see so many supporters coming out to support the Foundation and connect with old and new friends. It truly put a smile on my face. The staff was always very kind and would ask me about John and his birthday celebrations there.
Since John’s death you could find us at Max and Erma’s on his birthday celebrating a little boy who loved his family, his friends, his school, and his community. He was funny, and bright, and really loved just being himself. He would skip through his school with such enthusiasm that it made his teachers, and parents who saw him, smile. Those memories can never be taken away from any of us. And while on March 10th we won’t be in John’s usual place to celebrate, we will continue to celebrate the many gifts he has left us with. He truly was a gift to me, and all who knew him.
My Life After Death: John, Walt...and Bo?
My grandparents lived down the street from a cemetery, the cemetery where they are now buried. We would pass this cemetery on our way to visit them when they were living and my dad would honk his horn as a sign of hello to a man he knew buried there, and would give a little wave.
I pass the cemetery where John and Walt are buried, weekly. I don’t honk, but I do give a little wave to “the boys”. Yesterday, I stopped at the cemetery on my way home from work to light John’s candle. As I drove through the winding, leaf covered paths, I thought it looked very “neighborly” and thought about who John and Walt are surrounded by. It is ironic that I know a lot of the “neighbors” personally, or through their loved ones. I pass the beautiful cross headstone of my friend, Bekah’s mother; the stone of Walter’s childhood friend, Joey; my friend, Linda’s mother in law and father in law; a well respected man from our church; my sister in law’s aunt; my friend Gordon’s dad; all in the same area and I see them each time I visit. There are also people that I have met over the past 14 years, who like myself plant flowers, put out mementos for the holidays, and lay wreaths.
And then there is Bo Schembechler, just a few feet away. John had the same type of cancer that Bo’s first wife, Millie had, Adrenal Gland Cancer. It is Bo and Millie who turned this devastating diagnosis into the world renowned Adrenal Cancer Center at the University of Michigan. John had one of his major surgeries mid July of 2001, and because of many complications he spent 42 days in the hospital, mostly in a medically induced coma, and then recovering. On day 43, Bo Shembechler came up to the 7th floor of Mott looking for John, who had just been discharged the day before. He had a variety of items for him, shirt, hat, signed photo, book about Michigan football and tickets to an upcoming game where we were able to sit in the press box.
A few years after John’s death Walt and I attended a kick off fundraising luncheon for the hospital. We found our table at the luncheon and to Walt’s right, we see a place-card that says, “Bo Schembechler”. Really?? He arrived mid lunch, and afterward he asked us if we had a personal reason for our involvement in Mott. We told him about John, and Bo’s eyes got teary and he asked hesitantly, “May I ask how John is, today?” We told him that John had died, and after more conversation we parted ways. I truly felt a God wink that day, and am glad we were able to meet him.
What I’ve learned over the last 14 years about child loss and grief, it is not just losing a child once, you lose that child over and over again as milestones occur, event’s are celebrated, additional family dynamic changes happen. It is brutal, but it is life and life is meant to be celebrated.
As I was raking up some of the leaves around John’s grave yesterday, the air around me was very still, but I looked up and the pin-wheel we have placed there started whirring around. I smiled, and said, “Hello to you too John!”.

"21" Reasons…..

mile·stone: noun "a significant event or stage in life”

Milestones are usually looked at with great anticipation. First steps, first tooth, first day of school, turning into a "teenager", sweet 16, being old enough to vote...turning 21 years old. All are "milestones" that we look forward to in our lives. My son, John, would be 21 years old today. While I can envision his sweet face at the age of 8, I can't envision him as a 21-year-old college student...perhaps ordering a drink in a bar with friends(!), although, I wish I could. 

We honor John's life by continuing our work through the John R. Crosby Foundation, and supporting families who have seriously ill children. We hope to make their lives somewhat brighter and happier, even for a moment through our efforts. So today, this week, or in the near future, please consider honoring John's memory, or a special person in your own life by donating $21 to a charity of your choice, or to John's Foundation (

Here are "21" reasons you should donate to John's Foundation or your favorite charity today!

1. Donating to a favorite charity can honor someone who is present in your life, and let them know how special they are to you today.
2. You’ll give seriously ill children an opportunity to attend summer camp, without their parents worrying about their safety.

3. Your donation can help an ill child return to school and feel comfortable amongst his or her peers.
4. Donating $21 to your favorite charity should be a reminder of your own 21st birthday, or the 21st birthday of your own child.
5. Your donation can help supply a variety of books to families on the pediatric oncology floor at Mott Children's Hospital. This includes books for the Meditation Room lending library, and bereavement materials for grieving families.
6. Supporting "Dinner, Movie and Conversation Night" will help families who thrive on meeting other families just like themselves.
7. Donating to a cause near and dear to your heart will make you all warm and fuzzy inside...I promise you, it will!
8. Ill children get their spirits lifted by visits from college athletes. Your donation will help continue this opportunity. The athlete’s get just as much out of this as the kids and their families!
9. A donation of $21 can help bring out a smile when someone is in the heat of the most difficult battle in his or her life.

10. You can preserve the memory of someone no longer alive here on earth, but always alive in your heart.

11. Your $21 donation can be like a sword through cancer and knock it down.

12. For families who have had someone special to them die, your donation gives them the opportunity to attend a support group with people who "are like them".

13. A $21 donation will make you feel like you just scored the winning touchdown at the Big House, or hit the winning 3-point basket to win the big game. It will make you a true champion to someone who needs help!

14. John loved to read, and so do other kids who are hospitalized. Your donation will help supply books for the Giving Library which allows all patients, and their siblings, to receive FREE books!

15. You can help support research for a very rare cancer, such as Adrenal Gland Cancer.

16. A $21 donation will help John's Foundation provide a meal for a family who can't fathom finding the time to get something to eat.

17. When you turn 21, you are usually thinking about the cute boy or the cute girl, but we forget about those who are sick and need our help, often on their own birthdays.

18. Your donation can help provide a holiday stocking filled with little gifts to someone undergoing chemotherapy at the hospital.

19. A $21 donation won't make winter go away, but it can help bring some normalcy to abnormal situations.

20. Your donation can help a child who is undergoing cancer treatment feel like a prince or princess for a day.

21Twenty - one dollars.... someone can be helped by YOU! Please consider donating $21in memory of John’s birthday. He continues to fuel my passion to help other families who are affected by illness and their journey to healing.

Pediatric Critical Care Nursing Award 2013

While our time at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital was brief, we were cared for by the brightest gems. Even after 13 years Ada Poole remembered that John was in bed 13 for the 40 days that he was in the PICU. How special is that?! It is one of the reasons why Ada is the 2013 recipient of the Pediatric Critical Care Nursing Award. (additional awards have been presented as well to Emily Dickie in 2014, and Jennifer LaForge in 2015)

Here are a few additional words that I shared at the presentation today:

"John was cared for by terrifically talented nurses, each one that crossed our path was caring, compassionate and skilled beyond belief. With a wide range of ages, and experience, each brought to our family something treasured. There was Regina, who even with the most dire of circumstances managed to talk me “off the ledge” when John was dying before our very eyes; there was Jacqui with her sense of humor and complicated life; Maureen who loved to learn and share what she was learning, Bekah, fresh out of nursing school and although young, was a top notch nurse and when we found our faith in common, we knew we were bonded for life. These nurses stayed by our side during the difficult days we spent in the PICU. I remember one night, Jenn, another PICU nurse called me after I had gone home, and John’s dad was staying with him that night. John had spiked a fever that was worrisome and she urged me to return to the hospital. When I got there, she asked me if I wanted to get in bed with John, I did, but did not know if that was allowed. Because John was in a medically induced coma, and his condition was grave, I was able to cradle John in my arms for the rest of the night. While John's condition improved and he eventually left the PICU, I will always be grateful for Jenn and her phone call. The moments that our entire family felt cared for by this group of nurses is immeasurable."

My Life After Death

"For those who have lost their loved ones, or friends, As a matter of fact, nobody ever dies. Because they're gonna live inside everybody who ever knew them. Everyone they ever touched, no matter how little, and the people who love them, their families and friends, they're never gonna stop thinking about them or talking about them. They're never gonna die because they were loved and they loved.They're going to live forever in your heart, as death doesn't put an end to love." ~ Unknown

When my children were born I could not imagine living in this physical world without them in it for even one minute. Here I am, eleven years later and it does not matter if it is one minute, or eleven years....the pain is the same, but the level of pain has changed over the course of time.  I would be lying if i said all days were happy ones, some days are just wretched, but I have more happy days than sad days as time moves forward. While I have experienced the death of both a child and a spouse, grief is different in both cases....vastly different. 

There are many things to experience in the wake of death.  Do you know what I love?  Seeing and hearing what John's friends have accomplished at this stage of their lives....does it hurt to hear and see such things...of course, but it represents to me the life that John could have had.  His cute, and determined personality would have paved a successful path for him..I just know it. For me, it helps to talk about "the day".  To relive the moments leading up to death can be painful, but in many ways it helps the grief process. I posed a question on Facebook last month about 9/11 and "where were you?"  People wrote in such detail because it is day that our minds and hearts will not forget. Our parents would always ask others..."where were you when Kennedy was shot".  It is the same for our generation...except it is 9/11. Rethinking may seem harmful...and hurtful, but in reality it is reminding us this horrific event did happen...and while there is no reason behind it helps us accept in some strange way the tragic event.  I think a lot about the day that John died,   I can recite the entire day's history even 11 years later. It's inscribed in my heart, forever.

I recently talked to a bereaved friend and as we were getting caught up he told me with a little laugh, that he actually took a vacation from "grief". While he could not see me smile...I smiled big and inside fist pumped, "YES". He lost his son a few years ago and as can be imagined, has struggled with the many "whys" that bereaved parents suffer through.  He said it actually felt good to let go of some of those feelings and focus on his other son..laughing felt good!  It made my heart sing to hear this...I felt that he is moving forward in his grief. Those of us with other children at home would never want them to feel like they are in their deceased siblings shadow...we would never put any of them in anyones shadow...right??

While this day has significant meaning to me, it is a day that you just don't know what to do with. You quietly observe the day. Sometimes I just want to shout it out to a clerk in a store or the person giving me my skinny latte..."do you know why this day is important to ME???"  And while I have terrific friends it is hard for them to truly understand what I am feeling. I can't fault them for that, the situation is what it is.  Sweet John... one minute, one year, five years, eleven you and miss you and while grief may change, the strength of love I hold in my heart will never change.  

John, Sept 1, 2001 Big House Press boxJohn, Sept 1, 2001 Big House Press box

“The John R. Crosby Memorial Foundation supports psychosocial programs and cancer research at C.S Mott Children’s Hospital, and local non-profit agencies. The Foundation Provides families with ongoing support and bereavement services through educational materials, camp experiences, and referrals.”



September 2014

Dear Friends of the John Crosby Foundation,

Thank you for your continued support!  We look forward to the 13th Annual Lawton Run-a-thon, which will be held this Friday, September 12, 2014, at Lawton Elementary School.  A new twist on this year’s event is that it is a Color Run-a-thon! Proceeds this year will be used for our Patient and Family support activities on the Coach Carr Pediatric Cancer Unit at Mott Hospital.  

I always find this time of year invigorating. Summer is complete, a new school year begins with new school supplies, new school shoes, new teacher and maybe even a new school and friends.  What is not new is my continued passion for helping families whose lives have been turned upside down with a child who has a serious illness.  While life is certainly hectic on it’s own, when you have a child diagnosed with cancer, or another serious life threatening illness, your life becomes pure chaos.  I feel fortunate that since John died almost 13 years ago, that we have been able to provide some level of normalcy, and comfort to families at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, as well to other organizations that put families first. 

John’s Foundation continues to: 

·      Support programs for patients affected by Adrenal Cancer.

·      Provide camp experiences for children with medical challenges in a medically safe environment at North Star Reach      Camp.

·      Support bereavement/grief and loss services through Ele’s Place, a center for grieving children and families.

·      Support programs that provide emotional support and education to people with cancer, their caregivers and children at the Cancer    

       Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor.

·      Provide special events for patients and their families on 7E Mott such as the Day of Beauty and Brawn.

·      Award yearly, a Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse, the John R.Crosby Foundation Critical Care Nursing Award

·      Provide books for the C.S. Mott Giving Library

·      Provides monthly meals and “dinner, movie and conversation” meals for families on the pediatric cancer unit. 

·      Support the opportunity for University of Michigan Athletes, Michigan From the Heart, to bring their smiles to pediatric patients at 

       Mott Children's Hospital.

·      Lend library support to the Meditation Room library with book and periodical support.

In addition, this year, we had the honor of donating funds to create a patient room, yet to be named, which is next door to John’s Meditation Room.  This room will be used by families for a variety of reasons and will provide additional comfort for the sickest of pediatric cancer patients.  We also look forward to expanding our efforts in Palliative Care in supporting their Compassion Cart Project.  

AND a new website is in the works!

It goes without saying that all of the above, and more, could not be possible without your generous donations and much needed continued support through events such as the Lawton Run-a-thon, John’s 21st birthday shout out (over $4000 donated!) and other donations given through out the year.

Thank you!

My Life After Death: Spring

"Know that someday you will once again welcome spring. Be gentle and patient with yourself and with nature. Don't expect too much. Be ready to let a little of the hope that spring can offer into your heart." 

I have this ability to remember dates...birthdays of friends and random people, phone numbers and addresses of childhood friends, and random remembrances. Just the other day I told two friends who moved away years ago that their old Ann Arbor phone numbers are a combination of Lee's office number.  My friend, Anita, called me one night as she and her husband, Kevin, were having a "discussion" and called me to settle it..."Paula would know what happened 9 years ago...." and sure enough, I did. 

While this may be a good thing on many occasion, there are many things that people like to forget. Unfortunately, for me, remembering is both a gift, as well as a curse. 12 years ago today, John, age 8,  was diagnosed with cancer changing my family's life going forward.  As much as a family tries to keep things "normal" there is no "normal" about a child being diagnosed with a life threatening disease. There is chaos within your mind, body and soul. You enter a world where turning back is not an option. You fight for your child because your child is an innocent being. You become well versed in medical jargon that you can't believe spews from your mouth without effort. You try to be organized, act normal, and protect your family from the harsh realities. Friends pity you, others show compassion, and you wished that many more would know the difference between the two. Your relationships change, some for the better, and some not. Illness makes people uncomfortable. Death even more so.

Spring and Easter-time is supposed to be a time for "rebirth and renewal".  UGH. It is anything but for me.  Reminds me of innocence being lost, and not just for John, but for his brothers, family, school mates and friends.  It proved that "bad things do happen" and there isn't much we can do to change that. Our family was going through another health crisis around Easter of 2004. Our Pastor's service that Easter was "When God says no".  Well, I pretty much sobbed through out the entire service...trying to go unnoticed was difficult during an Easter Sunday service. My only saving grace that day was Walter and Henry told me that I kind of was dressed like "the Joker" as I was wearing a mint green blazer and black dress pants!  That did make me smile and laugh through the tears. 

John's dad spoke at John's funeral six short months after he was diagnosed, he said to the effect that John had many friends who liked him because John was never afraid to be anything but "himself".  John didn't need a lot of friends to get through the day, but he had a lot of friends who could call him their "friend".  He was a blessing to us, and is missed. 


My Life After Death: "Things"

"Eventually we can relive our memories with real joy, grateful for them and even more appreciative of the time we had together. If you are in the midst of painful memories at the moment, take heart that it will not always be so." -Shirley Ottman

I'm not sure why I was crying.  I was 'choosing' to get rid of my children's toys and belongings, unlike those deeply affected by Superstorm Sandy who's lifetime of memories were swept away with wind, rain and fire.  As I stood with tears on my face I knew that families out east are coping with looking for the "littlest needle in a haystack" of memorabilia to cherish. 

Our project was to transform the "toy closet" (yes, our house still has one and it was filled to the brim) into a sports equipment closet. It all sounded good in theory, but because I knew it would be painful in many ways I have been putting it off for months....ok, maybe years.  Even Lee has said to me on occasion, "you know, you don't need my help".  But, while I knew I did not need the physical help, I knew I would need the "emotional" help of going through the bins that were in there.  While my three boys had many "crossover" toys(too bad I did not buy stock in Lego), they also had toys that were just their "thing". Walter's affinity with anything with an engine, John's obsession with anything Thomas the Tank Engine and Brio, and Henry anything related to sports.  I remember when Henry was about 5, John had died a few months before, Walter and his dad were on a scout camping trip and Henry decided that he wanted to play with the Brio train set. I sat beside him wishing so badly that John was here to pick out the trains and track and the special little houses that went with the theme.  Henry tried really hard to like these toys, but then said, "I don't know what John saw in this stuff". 

Henry was very vocal about John when he was younger and the things that he wished he could have helped him with....especially with certain video games.  It was well known that John was an expert in many a game, one in particular, Zelda. To this day, we have John's last saved game of Zelda sequestered in my own little treasure box. I often wonder what will happen to the things that I have saved of John's and that of Walter and Henry's dad, Walt when I am no longer able to be "the keeper".

One of the bigger items we unearthed was the Little Tykes doll house.  I fought for this dollhouse at a garage sale on Maywood Ave. I remember one woman saying, "why do YOU want have all boys!"  What she didn't know is yes, I have all boys, but they are creative boys. That house became a school, a hospital, and even a jail! Walter came home from school one day and told me there were many handicapped people in the world and so for that Christmas he asked for the Little Tykes Wheelchair and ramp for the house to make it a school where EVERYONE could attend.  

Lee asked me, "what about this owl clock?"  I smiled through tears.  For John's 3rd Christmas he had two items on his list, one, a plastic owl clock from Meijers, and two, Loreal Kids Strawberry Shampoo, however, he called it "G'loreal". The owl clock is orange and yellow, nothing fancy, it doesn't say anything, just stares at you and you physically have to move the "wings" around to indicate the time. Yes, saving the Owl clock.

While I held many special memories in my hand today, I was able to let go of many things to the benefit of others. While I still saved probably every match box car known to man, and anything related to Thomas and the Brio train set, it made me feel that while I am giving up the property, the memories live on through Walter, John and Henry. 

I DO know why I was crying.  Memories are powerful.  Memories bring forth joy, pain and feelings of deep sadness.  It was of my choosing to let go of the tangible memories that I held on so dear too.  Many do not get this choice.  I truly am blessed.

My Life After Death: The Clay Pot

This clay pot sits on a shelf in our family room, I can't help but smile when I glance at it. John's cub scout den was in charge of the centerpieces for the Blue and Gold Banquet. Imagine my surprise when John pointed his out to me.  It was beautifully done…and then I saw the side of the pot that had the number "38" on it.  I was puzzled. I asked John, "what does the number 38 mean".  "It's your age!" John said smiling ear to ear. What????  My 38th birthday wasn't for another 6 weeks or so…I was hanging onto 37 for as long as I could! I looked around and saw that no other clay pot had a number on it.  Only mine. 

John loved being a scout; the kids, the projects, the den mother Judy, the camaraderie. A month after the Blue and Gold Banquet John was diagnosed with cancer. He had surgery, started chemo, continued to participate in school, and in scouts.  This "normalcy" was breathing life into the most "un-normal" of situations.  I turned 38. Thirteen years later, when the conversation of age comes up, I still think of myself as "38", because for many reasons, that is when my life stopped being what it "was".  I find these memories and reflections to be "painfully therapeutic", quite the oxymoron. Never will I forget the smile that made me smile, the quirky-ness that made me laugh and the little boy who displayed courage, bravery and was a friend to everyone he met. 

My Life After Death: The Gift of Hope

I have a hard time "emptying my head", even while sleeping I wake up with a running list of things to do, and people to connect with. This time of year makes people a little harried (and crazy).  We start our holiday season gathered around a table and giving thanks.  Fast forward and we race through the next few weeks trying to find time to get together with friends and family, and finding the perfect gift for someone we care about. 

Welcoming the fourth child home today gave me a sigh of relief as they started trickling home on Wed.  It goes without saying that my heart smiles when our nest is full.  So, I was thinking today as I went to Kohl's for the second time in one day, today,  that the best gift for anyone would be the "gift of hope".  We all hope for SOMETHING…good health, good kids, good job, good spouse…on and on and on the list can be filled with something we "hope" for. Thirteen years ago we were facing our first Christmas without John, and ten years ago we were celebrating Walt's last Christmas with us  There are so many things that have become vague to me over the years,  but that last Christmas is stamped on my heart forever. I remember "hoping" that my kids would be "ok", "hoping" they would and could sustain friendships, "hoping" they would do well in school, "hoping" they wouldn't be afraid.  

The one thing that I hoped for after Walter and Henry's dad died was "perseverance" and "strength" for all of us.  I am reminded of Walter's confirmation verse Romans 5: 3-5:

"3And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." 

We've been so fortunate to have strong role models in our lives, giving guidance when needed (and when not needed…but, appreciated!)  As I watch my children come to the end of chapters in their lives and start new chapters I can only be reminded of what I like to say to people who I counsel and move onto new chapters,  "while I am sad to see you go, it is wonderful to see you grow".   The "gift of hope", what better gift is there? 

My Life After Death:  Friends

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.”~ C.S. Lewis 

I have friends with a variety of interests. I have worked, volunteered and lived amongst people who I have made a strong connection through personal experience. I would have missed the opportunity to meet and call someone my "friend" had I not left my comfort zone and pursued activities I would normally have shied away from. Sometimes you grow with a friendship, but often times people grow out of a friendship, and I have found that is ok too. People drop you (what?? me??), or you drop them, but even after a friendship has ended I have always been glad to have known that person. 

I am a huge advocate for support groups and not all have to be problem solving, therapy groups. My belief is that "like people" seek out other "like people". Whether it be a group of kindergarten moms, a church prayer group or a bunch of neighbors meeting in the middle of the cul de sac to watch their kids ride around on bikes or ride on toys, you can all find at least one commonality. One of the best things about meeting a new friend is being able to say either out loud or in your head, "me too". 

The Arbor

November 13, 2014 at 9:29am

A few years ago I was asked to lend my opinion to what a room on 7 East Mott may look like if it were to host the sickest of children on the Unit.  There are many names for rooms such as this, "Comfort Room", "Transition Room" and rooms like these can be found on other Units at Mott.  However, there has never been a room like this on the Pediatric Oncology Unit.  With the help of Patient and Family Centered Care, and their many advisors, this idea was explored further.   John's Foundation found this endeavor to be important enough to lend monetary support to make this room a reality. The room, located next door to the John R. Crosby Meditation room, was completed in October. 

Our family was asked to "name" this room, and with the help of many advisors (former peds oncology families, Mott families, John's Foundation board, and my own family) we have named this room "The Arbor".  Arbor can mean many things:

  • a shaded passageway, or sitting area
  • a leafy, shady recess formed by tree branches
  • a shelter of vines or branches
  • a shady resting place

We thought because of the location of this room, looking out on glorious trees, and the decor that has been chosen, The Arbor was the most fitting.  The first thing I thought when I saw the room complete is, there are sheltering trees on the inside, as well as the outside. 

Continued thanks to all of our donors for your continued support…it is because of you these projects can bring much comfort to families who truly need this kind of support!