Support For Christi Thomas

This blog is to help offer support to the Thomas Family and their daughter, Christi, in her battle against cancer. Please visit Christi's website at www.ChristiThomas.com to learn more. There, you'll find journals, photos and a lots of other information about this amazing child and her family.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Christi Defined



My delay in updating has been caused by a variety of factors. The final week of school last week was terribly emotional. I just kept seeing Christi’s class over and over – outside getting their picture taken, walking around the halls, etc., etc. It was sometimes so hard to just breathe. Seeing her classmates continues to be my most difficult challenge and continues to cause me the most pain. She loved her class and school so much; I literally hurt thinking that she should still be with them. School ending also indicates yet another passage of time and the realization that the new school year will just make it even longer since I held her in my arms. It seems like I miss her more now than ever before.

After school on Friday we loaded up and took off for Lake Erie - a place that typically makes us all very happy. Shayne and I spent many moments crying over the weekend. Upon entering the condo and going into our room, her things appeared to be everywhere and we missed her so much. I saw the stack of books she had waiting for her to read this year lined up in our closet; clothes she’d never wear again seemed to be teasing me and I threw away her little toothbrush (upon it she wrote her name in a black permanent marker because she was concerned that someone else would accidentally use her toothbrush – what a hoot). We spoke with our NYC friends many times as their little sweetie died just two weeks ago and they are having a very tough time too. Sometimes it helps just to cry with someone else who understands.

Thankfully, little Miss Shayla keeps us going; she’s such a blessing. You can’t be down and feeling sad and sorry for yourself when you have a sweet little girl at the lake so, Shayne took her out on the jet ski numerous times. Of course this just made me sad remember how Christi's giggle could be heard while I sat on the rocks waiting for them to return; she loved the wave runner so much. Shayla also went swimming, fishing, and to a festival. One night we ate food that was grilled on the beach – very cool! I finished reading our latest family books “The Whipping Boy” and a child's version of “Great Expectations”. We’ve all enjoyed the books tremendously. While hard to read her the books Christi enjoyed so much, especially near the end because they bring the harsh memories flooding right back, Shayne’s going to get out the Hank series – the final set of books Christi had been enjoyed before she died. He said he thinks he’s going to be able to get through it. I’m not so certain.

On the last day of school, I gave the school a $250.00 check to purchase the entire set of “Hank the Cowdog” books for the student library, in Christi’s honor. The books are really cute; I believe the literature is of high quality and I hope that the students enjoy their new books for years to come. Christi would have liked that since the school library didn’t have any. Now next year they’ll have all 38 – or whatever the number is. The librarian told me yesterday that she already ordered them and in each book will be placed a little plaque, inside the front cover, with Christi's name - so sweet!

Staying with grandma at the lake, Shayla had a wonderful babysitter so Shayne and I went out two nights – one sitting outside watching all of the people at the festival walk by and another night we went out to dinner. The night after dinner, someone Shayne knows came up to us. Soon his girlfriend had the audacity to tell me that nine years was a very long time and that I am so lucky. Her girlfriend’s baby was born with a disease and died at eleven months. I was shocked and suddenly overcome with rage. After she said that, I immediately stood up, whispered to Shayne, “I need to leave now before I say something I’ll later regret,” and I went to the gift shop and cried my eyes out until Shayne soon came and we left. While I totally agree that I was so fortunate to have Christi in my life at all, it really hurt coming from a complete stranger that never even knew our precious sweetheart.

I cannot believe it has taken me days to get over that rude comment, but it has. It's certainly not the first time I've had someone tell me that their loss was more painful than mine and I always just bite my tongue and figure they must not know how terribly hurtful and mean they are being when they have absolutely no experience with my loss. Losing any loved one is horrific and I would never tell anyone that my loss was worse than theirs.

The image at the top of today’s entry was given to me on the last day of school by Christi’s sweet fifth grade teacher. She’ll never know how much that meant to us by having her included with the class book that made, featuring each student. Even though I burst into tears immediately after it was given to me, I thought it was the greatest thing in the world! And then my next class walked in and saw me. I wiped away my tears and kept saying, "Sorry about that. Sorry about that. I'm just going to miss you all so much, smile." Soon they joked with me “You’re either smiling or crying, there’s no in between with you, is there?!” Hee hee! I love my students!! I am so blessed! So I could only joke back, “You think I’m crying because I won’t be your teacher again, but really I’m going to be smiling as soon as you leave.” Hee hee! (Little did they know I actually did a cartwheel for Shayla in the school hallway after all of the busses pulled away and Shayla told me how happy she was it was summer vacation and she wouldn’t have to share me with my students all summer. I told her how happy I was about that too. What a cutie!)

Thank you, Mrs. Sauber and to the fifth grade class who will always hold a special place in our hearts. Christi - friend who is missed dearly, loved school, never forgotten

While I had a teacher work day and then class Wednesday night Shayla stayed with my mom (Nonee) and Paw Paw Joe. She had an enjoyable time - as you can see from the cookie backing pictures. I picked her up yesterday and since we had to head north for her therapy we went to the Toledo Zoo. I knew it'd be tough being there for the first time without Christi - and it was, but we also shared a wonderful, enjoyable two hours at the zoo. The new baby polar bear cubs are beyond precious!
I snapped this one of a giggly 2 1/2 year old Christi - not wanting to go to bed.
I love this picture! We were in Las Vegas, staying at Circus Circus for two nights before driving down to Phoenix for Josh's graduation in 2000. At the buffet at Cesar's Palace Christi was shocked that we let her get a big cream puff like that. She was most intrigued by the fancy buffet at age 2 1/2, never really going to a buffet before. What a hoot!

18 Comments:

At 1/6/07 2:17 PM, Anonymous Katie Crosbie said...

Oh, I am so sorry to hear about such an insensitive comment. Nine years was NOT long enough, that's for sure, and nobody should ever claim to understand your pain or the magnitude of your loss. No parent should ever have to lose a child – at any age – and I am so sad that someone would make such a comment to you. I think a lot of times, people don’t know what to say when they hear about something tragic - but that's no excuse, and people should know better than to try to somehow belittle someone else's loss.
Even those of us who didn’t know Christi could tell that she was a very special little girl who had already done great things and who was destined to do even more wonderful things. It is so unfair that she was taken so early, and my heart goes out to you. It’s hard enough to have to deal with such an overwhelming loss, but then to have to cope with people’s insensitivity makes it that much harder, I’m sure.
I was recently in the hospital for surgery, and a every time I caught myself feeling sorry for myself, I thought of your brave little Christi. I still can’t believe what a positive, loving attitude she maintained throughout her entire life ~ she was an inspiration to all, and she lived her life with the utmost dignity and honor. I’m 22, but many times while I was in the hospital, I found myself thinking of that brave little nine-year-old girl and reminding myself how she handled her many hospital stays and doctors’ visits.
You did a marvelous job raising her, and she was such a special gift. I hope people will be more sensitive and thoughtful from now on … and I can’t even begin to imagine what this has been like for you. You are such strong, amazing people. My thoughts and prayers are always with you, Thomas Team.

 
At 1/6/07 2:19 PM, Blogger Olivia said...

I love these Christi pictures! Unfortunately, the first one at the very top did not come through on my computer, but I am sure it's lovely.

The donation of Hank the Cowdog books are a wonderful way to honor Christi. I am sure she's pleased with it!

Shayla, your insight and compassion continue to amaze me. I am so glad you had a nice time at the zoo and baking cookies. Yay for summer vacation!

 
At 1/6/07 3:15 PM, Blogger Carol said...

I'm so sorry your feelings were so hurt by this inconsiderate person. Let's pray that she never has the full understanding of how cruel her words really were - she would likely have to experience it to really "get it".

 
At 1/6/07 3:23 PM, Blogger MommyJaden said...

Just wanted to say that I am thinking of you all ... missing Christi as much today as the day she left ... I am SO sorry some people decided to speak before thinking ... I am so sorry Angela, Shayne and Shayla ... this all just stinks so much - I wish she were here still and we were reading all about her silly antics and giggles ... I do look forward to meeting her one day for she has brought me so much closer to my faith! Thank you will never be sufficient when it comes to you sahring her life with so many of "us"!

Love from my family to yours!

Rebekah Clark
Prior Lake, MN
mommy_jaden@yahoo.com

 
At 1/6/07 3:56 PM, Blogger HeatherB said...

What a beautiful tribute to the most beautiful girl. I love what her kind teacher wrote about her, and it's so very true.

I'm also so very sorry that you had to deal with such a rude comment from a stranger. Oh my goodness you would think people would know better (or at least they sure should!)

May God wrap His loving arms around you and bring you peace and comfort.

Lots of love and prayers,
Heather

 
At 1/6/07 6:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a neat idea for the fifth grade memory book!

Over the last months I have been reading both Penelope's and Kendall's sites - my prayer for peace and comfort goes out to all of you who are struggling with accepting your loss.

As one who is firmly sandwiched between parents dying and the birthing of grandchildren, I have so learned to treasure this circle of life.

Your journal entries are so full of thought provoking comments. Beyond saying I AM SORRY to those dealing with the loss of a loved one, I am almost afraid to open my mouth for fear of putting my big foot in my mouth.

Enjoy Shayla and the warmth of the summer.

 
At 1/6/07 7:35 PM, Anonymous Leah said...

ahh christi and shayla look soo cute in those pics! im so sorry about your lake trip :(..
xoxo

 
At 1/6/07 7:46 PM, Blogger Anna said...

My that is one big cream puff, apparently she never heard the phrase "never eat anything bigger than your head" :)

I'm so sorry these comments are getting to you. I know to that woman nine years seems alot longer than eleven months, but they were both still children and it hurts whether they lived thirty years or thirty minutes. Consider this an internet hug and hang in there as best you can.

Shayla looks great, hope her vision is still improving. I hope she has a good summer vacation.

Thinking of all four of you. Love Anna

 
At 1/6/07 8:56 PM, Blogger Spring Barnickle said...

Oh, sweet thing, I'm so sorry someone made an insensitive comment like that. There is nothing "lucky" at all about losing Christi, period. Nine years is just not enough. I will pray for you to be able to let go of the hurt that came from that comment. You are already hurting so much, you don't need anything else!

I wanted you to know that, as I order our homeschool curriculum for next year, the "Hank the Cowdog" series will be our read-aloud together all year in Christi's honor. (I can't imagine a better book recommendation than one from the Thomas family!)

Miss her sweet presence in your life every day, pray for you every day, and wish I could do more every day.

Much love,
Spring

 
At 1/6/07 10:23 PM, Anonymous Shelby said...

We love you, Thomas team... You're in my prayers each night. Christi continues to inspire those who were fortunate enough to know her (or, like me, to know of her through your journal entries).

 
At 1/6/07 10:48 PM, Blogger Tawny said...

Such adorable young Christi pictures! You definitely have amazing pictures of your precious Christi's life here on earth. I'm so sorry to hear that it has been so rough recently :( I just hope that your tears of sadness turn to tears of happiness as you think of the amazing life that Christi had in her much too short 9 years. Shayla is too sweet! I hope she has lots of fun with her friends this summer as I know it'll be hard as this is her first summer without her big sister physically here. Stay Strong!

 
At 2/6/07 3:13 AM, Blogger Sheila Ferrell said...

Dearest Thomas Family,
I still think of you all and precious Christy several times a day. I know she is touched that her 5th grade class honored her in such a special way. And books in the library, you know she is doing cartwheels on that one.
I refuse to give excuses to people that have the audacity to speak before they think thus causing anger and pain to those that are suffering the most excrutiating loss known to us. Nine short years is only 10% of the length of time that beautiful gal should have graced this earth. Yes, I rejoice that she is living an eternal life with our Father and no longer in pain but there should have never been a reason for the pain in the first place.
I pray for God's comfort and for you to feel the breeze that is stirred by angel wings.
In Christ Name I lift the Thomas family up to you God,
Sheila

 
At 2/6/07 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So terribly, terribly sorry that someone would demean you. Pain is no competition, and neither is loss. Since you began writing your journal back in 2002, the one thing that rings over and over and over again is the precious value of each and every second your family spent together, all four of you. During the horrifying events of August and September 2006, reading every moment how all you wanted was "more time with our precious sweetie" and in Shane's words, "actually forever", the lesson that you've taught is to cherish every nanosecond and not take a single moment lightly. You have graced us with your child's life and now, you continue to grace us with your journey in your deepest loss. We are so grateful for your words and presence in our lives.

Kamie.

 
At 3/6/07 5:01 AM, Blogger Aimee Jackson said...

I'm glad you got away to the lake. It sounds like a beautiful place full of beautiful memories.

As for that insensitive remark, I feel sorry for that poor woman. She must have a lot of bitterness and anger inside to say something so hurtful to you. You really cannot quantify grief like that. It is absolutely horrible to lose a child, regardless of whether it is an infant, older child, or even in their adult years. There may be different feelings depending on the stage of life they are in, but it doesn't make one "better" or "worse" than the other. To the person experiencing the grief, it is just terribly painful at that moment. When I meet another parent who lost a child, I feel an understanding and connection with them that I don't think you can get from someone who hasn't experienced it. How sad that this woman has so internalized her suffering that she is unable to feel that connection with others. To pull yourself up you have to reach out.

Look back over your journal. There have been so very many instances of God's people being good to you and your family. Don't let one sad woman ruin even one more second of your day. Maybe someday she will see how hurtful her comment was and will change her mindset.

Bravo to you Angela for leaving the situation without saying something hurtful back. I'm sure your tongue is still bleeding from biting it.

Love and peace to you and yours,

 
At 3/6/07 7:05 AM, Blogger Kim said...

I just love the "Definition of Christie", what a wonderful thing!

I am so sorry that you had to endure that insensitive comment...there is never enough time with someone you love.

Know that I continue to keep the Thomas Team in my prayers! You are a truly remarkable family! And there are so may who will never forget Christi!

With love and prayer -

Kim

 
At 4/6/07 12:00 AM, Blogger Zeddy said...

Time flies too fast! I can scarcely believe that we are nearly halfway through 2007, and that you are all set to enjoy your summer break. (Whilst we Australians shiver in our boots. Teehee.) I'm glad to see that the Thomas Team continues to soldier on with a strength and resolve beyond comprehension; just when I think I can't be more impressed, you prove me wrong!

Angela, I'm sorry that you were hurt enough by the comments of another that it was still bothering you some time afterwards. I feel that people don't often choose their words very well, since "lucky" is not one that immediately springs to mind when discussing the death of a loved one. Why she chose to express herself like that, I don't know; a lack of knowing how to deal with a sensitive issue leading to nerves and a case of "foot-in-mouth" disease? Succumbing to the anger that so closely shadows grief and leads us to think and, sometimes, say things that we don't really mean? A misguided attempt to empathise or, perhaps, even look for a "positive" in all that you've been through? Jealousy? Bitterness? Spitefulness? So many possibilities, but since you'll probably never know what her true motivation was, the best thing you can do for yourself is to let it go. Forgive her if you can, for she is either feeling terrible right now or is suffering from some other affliction that robs her of the ability to treat other people with respect, either of which indicates she needs lifting up by those who can find it in their hearts to help her! But don't dwell on it, because people who have taken the time to get to know Christi, even from a distance, know that whilst we were very lucky she was part of our lives for nine years, there is no "gold medal" when it comes to losing a loved one.
There is, however, a "gold medal" for outstanding dignity in harrowing situations, and you've certainly blown away the competition in this instance! Well done!

Perhaps we should also keep the poor family of that 11-month-old in our prayers, if that's the sort of support they've been getting from those around them!

 
At 4/6/07 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Angela, I am so sorry you and Shayne had to hear that comment, which was rude and insensitive beyond belief. That person is obviously very naive about life and has never experienced loss. I've followed your story for a while and am grateful to have witnessed Christi's courage and strength throughout her long battle. It's been a long, hard road for the Thomas Team and I have absolutely no illusions about how impossibly hard it's been.

p.s. Would have loved to see you do that cartwheel for Shayla!

-shirley

 
At 4/6/07 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for this woman--she knows nothing of which she speaks. I assume she is not a mother, otherwise the notion of losing a child would at least give her pause before speaking.

Your family knows more about love, family, and life than this poor woman. Maybe someday she will know more.

Always thinking of Christi...she lived her life with grace. So have you! Her parents taught her well.

 

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