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 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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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

First Day of School? NOT!

Grandpa wanted to take the girls to school early one day that week so I left early. Grandpa snapped this photo of Shayne walking the girls in. What I wouldn't do to go back a year ago and see the smile on their faces, so happy to be back in school.

I do remember this happening one other time in my nearly twenty year teaching career......This morning school was delayed and then cancelled due to the large amounts of rain and flooding in our area so we ended up at the cemetery and on the campus of BGSU! While Shayla was happy to cuddle up with daddy early this morning, I only thought that the anxiety I had been experiencing would now continue one more day. I feel like I just want to get this over with and then it will be better; however, I think next year will possibly be even more difficult because Christi really wanted me to be her 7th grade teacher and I would have loved nothing more. I think teaching her friends, and not her, will be crushing next year. First though, making it through this year.

I spent the majority of the day cleaning and going through things that I'd been putting off. I finally moved Christi's purse off of the shelf, by the door, where it'd be hanging since she left it there a year ago. Going through it was so odd. I kept thinking, "You're not supposed to be going through someone else's purse!" (And - smile - also, "OK, I need to get rid of the junk in mine so that my family is not left going through it!!") Christi had a paper wallet that she made (Imagine that!). I need to take a picture of it, complete with all of the hand drawings and colored pencil colorings. She neatly has some dollar bills - perfectly arranged in it; I couldn't remove them. She was also quite a little change collector. Inside her purse she had TWO little coin purses, FILLED with coins. I caught myself from counting the money because I knew it'd just be too sad and would delay things so I put it in a little plastic bag for Shayne to take to the bank, or to include with his change. I just don't want to think each time I reach in my purse that I can't use THAT dime because it was Christi's. I must move on, no matter how hard.

While leafing through her books today, I opened up one with a chapter called "My Major Problems". It asked, "When you're afraid and don't know what to do or where to turn, who are you going to call? Forget Ghostbusters!" In Christi's little handwriting is written: "When I am afraid, I will trust in You. I will call on God." So after mopping up those tears, I somehow went on - missing her desperately goes without saying.

Now for the most INCREDIBLY AWESOME part of the day: We went to the cemetery. I wasn't going to get out because of the flooding I didn't want our shoes to get muddy before meeting with Shayla's "spelling teacher" in Bowling Green. Then I decided that I needed to tidy it up because I could see some of the pinwheels were broken so we got out. I am soooooooooooo sooooooooooooo sooooooooooooooooooooo glad I did!!! We immediately saw a fresh, large zip lock bag with a card inside. "Christi" was written on the card and a small pin of the flag of Canada was on the corner. I snatched it right up and then paused for a long time as Shayla said, "Mom are you going to open it?" I said, "Well, I thought so but now I feel like I'd be imposing on Christi's private business if I did." (long pause) "Can I open it?" Shayla asked. (Remember this is the little sister who opened up and read her sister's diary's the night Christi died.) I finally said, "Well, I'm dying to know who left this so I'm going to open it up." Inside was a precious Siamese kitten on the front of the card. Inside was written:

Dearest Christi,

On what should have been your first day of sixth grade, you now know all the mysteries of the universe and you learned it all from the Creator Himself. No more speculation, no more theories, you know all the truth and I'm sure your brilliant mind soaked all of it in. Keep watching over your family!

Tracey, Phil, Joshua and Kayla (Internet friends from Canada)

Shayla asked if she could wear the pin. I told her that I wanted to wear it to the first day of school tom morrow, but then we could share it after that. She said that was fine.

If that sweet, sweet Canadian family would please email me ( I would really appreciate it. Tracey, you have NO IDEA how profoundly this touched me and then soon Shayne as I called him choking away tears trying to read the card to him. For the first time I couldn't pray at Christi's gave. I had to ask Shayla to please pray for me because I just couldn't believe that someone drove to another country and actually located Christi's cemetery - not to mention her grave since her mother can't muster up the courage to select her darn plaque yet!!!! What incredible, loving kindness!! Additionally, I can't help but think we just missed you because the baggie was so clean - no rain spots, very little mud. (We were there at 2:30 this afternoon and when Shayla said, "Mom, wasn't there a brown car pulling out when we pulled in?" I remembered yes indeed there was.) Also, I wonder if this is the same sweet Canadian mom who emailed a month or so ago and inquired about what to do at COSI and Cedar Point because they were taking their summer vacation to Ohio. I didn't think too much about it, but now I actually wonder if little Christi's life inspired a family to do this. (And I really hope they had a great time; the weather hasn't been the best.) And I feel horrible that I didn't get to meet them in person and at least invite them over for lunch. We LOVE meeting new people!

Shayne jokingly suggested that if this family really did do a "Christi Tour" then we could put together a bus trip or something for next summer - getting together and enjoying all of Christi's favorite places for a few days, what fun! Of course he said, "We'd need to put together three trips: One for an Ohio tour, one for a NYC tour and one for a Philly tour which will start at the US Mint!"

Next, it was on to meet up with Jennifer on campus. Since we didn't have school and could therefore leave early, I thought we could catch up and treat her to dinner before Shayla's tutoring session. Shayla LOVED being on campus and going in the dorm rooms. I cannot believe how much my old school has changed!! Now there are RAs who are not your same sex and the floors aren't just co-ed, but males/females are mixed on the floors. (Boy, I must be old!) Candy bars and many other items are sold in the dining halls and let's just say Shayla can't wait to go to college. She thought living with five other girls would be the greatest. So, hopefully, although the rain continues to beat down, we will get through our first day of school tomorrow! (Every time I woke up last night I panicked. Hopefully, tonight I'll sleep better.)

A year ago Grandpa (Shayne's father) arrived in town. He'll again be here on Thursday for his annual visit. While we're looking forward to his visit, it also keeps reminding us of how we spent this last time together one short year ago.

The beginning of her downfall. Little did I know on this day how terribly ill she was. Each day we'd come home from school and cuddle. I think this photo was on Wednesday. By Sunday, Shayne was transporting her back to Philadelphia. Conceived in Pennsylvania, died in Pennsylvania, yet she LIVED LARGE in Pennsylvania too! That is what I need to focus on.


At 21/8/07 9:44 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

It was so great to see you today! It made my day. Shay does look so big on that "college" computer. I'm glad she is so excited for college life...even despite our sludge. Hehe

At 21/8/07 10:54 PM, Blogger Olivia said...

Oh, dear Angela, you have been on my mind so much today. I went school supply shopping with my mom (also a teacher) for some decorations for her classroom (schools in NYC start after Labor Day.) and I kept thinking about Christi and how she would have loved to be starting a new school year and getting everything ready for the big day. While she loved learning, she also did a lot of teaching while here on earth. Those of us fortunate enough to share in her story are a testament to this legacy.

I am sory to hear the day was delayed, but glad that you were able to spend it surrounded by so many loving friends.

I will be sending many loving thoughts your way tomorrow as the first day begins.

Much love,

At 21/8/07 11:57 PM, Blogger Spring Barnickle said...

Angela, I just said a prayer for you for continued strength during this school year. I can't imagine how hard it is, and I wish so much things were different. I am praying that every day you make it through will bring some measure of healing and peace.

I am not surprised that Christi touched someone powerfully enough to have them travel outside their own country -- she was that kind of girl, and you are that kind of family! What awesome Canadian neighbors we have!

Prayers and much love to you, Shayne, and Shayla


At 22/8/07 4:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Thomas Team,

Im sure Shayla enjoyed having an extra day off school, even if it just prolonged the agony for Angela by one more day. Your cemetery experience today sounds amazing, what a sweet card! I have followed the blog for ages, the way Angela writes is inspiring, the way Christi lived was inspiring too... you are all just amazing, if only every family could be like yours!! Also if only it were a story and we could have changed Christi's ending.

The Christi tour is a really great idea. I am English, but I live in Greece and I would definitely be up for spending my holidays next year taking the Christi tour, I'm sure it would be magical! Who wouldn't want to go to Ohio, New York and Philly?! If it ever gets off the ground count me in.. I will be a taker on the Christi tour!! I would love to meet all of you and see the wonderful places that Christi visited: Cedar point, the mint, Barnes and Noble.. etc!!!!

Hope you have a great first day back at school, and that it is easier than you expect! Lots of love to all of you xxx

At 22/8/07 6:52 AM, Blogger Lisa D:) said...

Sign this Christi fan up for the Christi Tour for next summer!

At 22/8/07 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that you and your family are totally inspiring. Last night i sat and read through the whole of Aug and Sept 2006 in your journal archives - i felt drawn to, i cannot explain why. Your little girl is a heroine. She will always be your perfect little daughter, and her sister's wonderful role model. Never forget that!
Love and prayers


At 22/8/07 3:29 PM, Blogger Denise Ward said...

I'm glad that you had such a wonderful moment at the cemetery, being reminded of how Christi's life had an impact on the family from Canada. It is indeed so neat to think they found her site and left that pin. My thoughts and prayers are with you, as you approach September and all the memories that go with it. My heart breaks for you going through Christi's little purse and seeing her handmade wallet and all her personal treasures.

At 22/8/07 9:40 PM, Blogger anne said...

What a fantastic card! Thank you for sharing. I think fo you all often and check your blog regularly, especially now during this difficult time of year.



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