Forever Sisters - Shayla & Christi Thomas
I hope any bloggers still out there enjoyed the poems and the pics of those four amazing young ladies! Although I was very hesitant to ask, a few days before Christi’s death, I emailed their mothers and asked if they’d ask their daughters to pick out a poem to read at the funeral – if they wanted to and if they thought they could do it. I am still amazed at how composed, sweet and beautiful they were reading the poems inside a packed church filled with hundreds. Kids are incredible! I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing all of our old “Christi pics” and searching for the best ones to share. Some days it seems all I want to do is to sit around and look at Christi’s pictures. I don’t know why that gives me so much comfort, but it really does. Many told us we'd be "numb" for months and then months 4-7 would be the worst hell to endure as you come to realize that your precious child really is gone. That is been true. It really hit us harder than ever before this past week.
Hopefully, my next “series” of blog entries will be announcing how some of the Christi Thomas Memorial Funds will be utilized. We’ve established a committee and have had to do a lot of “checking” with others to get the “big things” all lined up so, so I apologize for the delay in making the announcement, but we really hope to do that very, very soon. We think Christi will be very impressed and very pleased! It has given us something to be excited about!
Speaking of our new k-12 school set to open next year, one day last week Shayla said that they all signed a beam and that she wished Christi were alive to sign the beam too. I asked her if she’d like to sign Christi’s name if we got permission and she said, “Oh, mommy, yes!!” Then she poured out, “I know how to write Christi’s name and I almost wrote her name instead of mine, but my teacher said we couldn’t write in cursive and I only know how to write Christi’s name in cursive because I never saw her write her name any other way and then I knew if I did that I would get in trouble so I just printed my name instead.” Whoa! Talk about nearly knocking the old mom over! I knew in the morning, it would be the fourth month anniversary of Christi’s death and it would be an emotional one, but we’d be finding out if she could sign Christi’s name too. I learned that the answer was “CERTAINLY” and I also learned that this beam will be visible - most likely in a cafeteria setting. Shayla signed Christi’s first name and I wrote her last name. All three of our names are together.
Proud little sissy, Shayla, ready to write her big sissy's name(in cursive, no less). Go, Shayla!
The finished product - all three Thomas girls together! Christi would love it!
Our new school was so very, very exciting to Christi. I’ll never forget the night the levy passed. I came home late, having been at the Board of Elections with two other teachers and then when I heard the final numbers later I actually woke Christi up to tell her. She soon ran down the hall to our bedroom and hopped on the bed with us. I said, “Oh, Christi, I know you’re more exciting than that. You can JUMP ON OUR BED!” She said, “Really? I’m not allowed to jump on the bed.” I said, “Christi, never in our life are we ever going to move out of three old school buildings into one brand new school building and all get to go to school together! JUMP ON OUR BED!” Oh, she giggled and giggled! Tremendous memories! I wonder if the fact that they’re six weeks ahead of schedule on the building project has anything to do with a special Angel overseeing the project?! Hee hee.
Shayla’s vision therapy continues to go very well. I won’t say she enjoys doing six days of eye exercises and training with me and one long afternoon/evening spent in Toledo, but she’s making incredible progress! In reading, she’s advanced three levels (Fontaus and Pinnell for any reading teachers out there.) and is now reading at grade level!! Additionally, her grade card came home on Friday and all of her grades went up one or two full letter grades. PRAISE THE LORD! I know the first nine weeks was a tough one with losing her only sibling and best playmate and having missed nearly three weeks of school, but this second nine week grade card only contained As and Bs and her teacher thinks she’s going to continue moving up. We have about three more (long) months of this intensive treatment for her eye function, but this at least motivates us to “keep on keeping on” because it appears to be working! I’ll forever be thankful for that quick trip we took to San Francisco. Little did we ever expect Shayla’s reading problem would be diagnosed while being babysat by the sweetest of Professors who teaches and is a presenter of gifted and talented education. With the wonderful Dr. Z - Shayla's Vision Therapy DoctorWorking hard with a vision therapist - training those eyes to work together properlyWith another of her vision therapists
Without a doubt, she would still be struggling and falling behind in school if we would not have made that trip. All of the testing efforts that had been conducted on her last year were unfruitful in diagnosing the problem. I keep shaking my head saying, “I’m a reading teacher. Why don’t teachers know about this? I have the state’s reading endorsement and am six credit hours away from the Literacy Specialist Endorsement. My husband has paid for so many reading classes and I never heard about this before.” Shayla’s vision doctor keeps saying, “This is what you need to do your dissertation on,” and “I send stuff out to schools all the time.” I have been amazed at all I’m learning about it! (Seven out of ten juvenile delinquents have undetected eye problems. Amazing!) Regardless, thanks to Robin to telling us about Shayla’s situation! We praise Him!
Every day we worry about Shayla and wonder how she’s really coping. We know she misses Christi dearly and is lonely much of the time. Our girls played non-stop together and to suddenly have that cut out of your life is a shocking change. On the night of the fourth anniversary of Christi’s death, we walked around the Tiffin Mall and had fun that night sampling lotions at Bath and Body and buying Shayla a ring at Claires. At home, she was a child we had not seen in months! She was trying out dance moves for me having me give her a number score with each series. She was making up commercials trying to sell us products with her jingles. It was like the old Shayla was back. Shayne and I just kept giving each other the look of “What is going on?” “What happened that she’s so happy?” Later, when I told her that we needed to settle down now because it was close to bed time she said to me, “I didn’t know I could have fun without Christi.” It took my breath away, but I somehow managed to say, “I’m glad because I know Christi would want you and everyone to have fun without her and who knows maybe she was floating around the room playing with us tonight too. I believe she’s always with us.” We haven't seen her that happy since then, but hopefully more good days will be in the near future! This week she was sent home from school with an eye infection. Now she's been in the great care of the wonderful Aunt V and Grandma Nee Nee. Tomorrow morning, Shayla and I will fly to Philadelphia where the wonderful Mr. Grant will be picking us up at the airport, driving me down to Wilmington for another teachers' meeting and taking Shayla to their home for the weekend. I'm going to be VERY hard to see Mr. Grant waiting for us at the airport.
PIC: June 2006 FUN AT CHOP with the Grants
I don't even want to think about the number of times he picked up Christi & I and drove us to the Ronald House or to CHOP. I do know however, Shayla will have a great time with his precious girls over the weekend. Those beautiful princesses provided Christi with more joy than they'll EVER know! Although I liked to tease them that they'd get the day off of school for silly reasons, it was very humbling to always accept their offer to come to CHOP to entertain Christi. There's nothing like "same age playmates" to bring joy to one stuck in the hospital! Christi would laugh and play with the girls for hours while I always delighted in catching up with their beautiful mother!
Christi & Shayla's first meeting (Shayla's birthday: Feb. 12, 1999) OK, Christi was more intersted in the book, but.....I guess that doesn't surprise anyone!
Disneyland (California - 2001)
Christi asked me to take a picture of her fruit chews, ugh - gross! (2001)
Planting Flowers on Mother's Day (2001) CT 4, Shayla 2
An Old Time Favorite Picture: On the lawn of COSI, at the Arts Festival in Columbus, Shayla (1) shares her ice cream with Christi (3).
Christi & Shayla - 2000