As I've been haunted, for lack of a better word, with what I was doing one year ago tonight, I received a delightful surprise from Traci! A year ago, Shayla and I rode with Nonee and Paw Paw to the Detroit airport after school where we were delayed due to a storm. Arriving in PHL, Tim drove us to the Ronald McDonald House. During the drive I told him how much pain Christi had been in all week and that she couldn't even walk. As we pulled up in front of the Ronald House gates, much to my shock, Christi came walking out the front gate - in her slippers and pajamas and literally jumped into my arms. It goes down as one of THE GREATEST moments ever. I thought she was perhaps on her way to recovery. In fact, it was the final time I ever carried her. For whatever reason she felt so well that night; the girls played with some toys until I was so exhausted I said that they had to go to bed. I've lived to regret those words as Christi woke up, sleeping beside me, in the middle of the night with horrible leg pain and a headache. It was my last night to sleep with her in a regular bed as the next afternoon Shayne had to carry her into the emergency room for her final admittance.
Soon after Christi died I realized that I, the picture lover, would never see another new photo of Christi ever again. Over the years I took great delight in viewing the (near) daily photos I'd taken right away. Last night, again awake and unable to sleep, I went to visit Harriet's "wallpaper stripping photos". Earlier she sent me the link, but I didn't view them yet. Imagine my surprise, not only to see her funny photos (She definitely had more fun ripping off wallpaper than we did, but that should come as no surprise! Traci makes everything FUN!) but I noticed a few "Christi albums". Much to my surprise and delight, there were about 40 shots of Christi I'd never seen before! I am incredibly grateful!!
Back in NYC, the sweet "Christi Supporter" Olivia is conducting a book drive in memory of Christi and her love of books. She wanted to do something special on the anniversary of Christi's heavenly debut and we think it's a remarkable and very loving tribute. I was so happy to donate some books when we met in NYC and also to learn of how many others were getting involved in her project. Yes, a big blessing!
While cleaning the basement recently, I managed to muster up the courage to toss out Christi's old baby blankets. I would have kept them, but there were a few stains and I've decided that I cannot keep it all. I couldn't decide if I was mourning the normal loss of childhood, or the true loss of young life. I also came across a sign made by an incredible aide at school. We hung it in her Columbus Hospital room many times in the fall of 2002. It said, "WE MISS YOU, CHRISTI". I told Shayne I feel like taking this out to her grave because we've never missed her more!
It's hard to believe Labor Day has arrived. We vividly remember the last one, taking Christi down through the tunnels below CHOP to the adult hospital of UPenn for her radiation. We knew there was a serious problem when they were calling staff in on Labor Day to get radiation started on her brain. While we had to do it at the time, and always would have wondered "what if" had we not done it, they are definitely among the worst memories I have of the hell this little girl endured. She was so scared and yet would say, "I know I have to do it, mom, but I am scared." Father Joe made reference to those comments in his sermon at her funeral on September 23rd. This weekend we'll be with family and we will be trying very hard to put out of our minds what was being done to her last year as the hard metal frame held her head down and was bolted to a hard board which went up into the air. She was so frightening that she was going to fall off of that table. I was not permitted in the room with her so via an intercom, I read and sang every bible song I knew to try to comfort her and give her something familiar to try to ease her stress.
It's been weird reading "Hank" books to Shayla, but she's absolutely loving them right now. She's also been growing her bangs out since May and we are proud of her for sticking with it. She's been wearing a lot of headbands to keep them out of her eyes; we think she looks beautiful. Here's wishing you and yours a fabulous weekend!
Christi appears to be too busy reading her cats and kittens book she borrowed from the hospital to be examined by Dr. Maris. With her coat still on, it appears she has someplace else she needs to get too! (That was the day we took off for the museum as soon as we were "free". Thanks, dear Jenn and Traci for coming to Philly!
I just wish I could remember what Dr. Maris was saying. Christi, as usual, was most likely cutting up and trying to humor him and her COSI friends - check out her expressions! What a charmer! What a hoot!
On the way to the airport, her COSI friends surprised her with a surprise 9th birthday party at Magic Mountain, along I71 in Columbus. I will say that every time I drive by it now I sign with sadness; yet she had a glorious evening there and I will never forget how happy she was with her sweet COSI friends as we celebrated her life!Her first and last go-cart ride. She was too short for them to allow her; however, she stood on one of our sweet friend's shoes and I think I whispered something to the guy like, "Something is going to kill her and it's not going to be a go-cart ride; although that be a better way to go out." He gave her a ticket to ride. After one trip around the track, everyone had to stop. Poor Christi was just too short to reach the pedal and drive so the operator put an inflatable "pillow" behind her and THEN she was off! And she LOVED racing her "big" friends. Praise God for great memories and great friends!