Thursday, September 13, 2007

In loving memory of Taylor and Allie

Taylor during the summer of 2001 after her first cancer treatment

On September 13, 2001, just two days after the attack on the World Trade Center, Larissa Linton heard the devastating news that her four year old daughter Taylor had relapsed. After six months of remission, time spent at home with her adorable little sisters, and even a fourth birthday, Taylor's cancer had returned, forcing her and her family to go back into the hospital for further treatment. Taylor passed away two months later at the age of four and a half years.

I didn't know Larissa or Taylor, nor had I heard this sad story of her life. I was happily unaware of childhood cancer, working as a middle school teacher in Plano ISD. I had finished my first year of teaching (when I won Beginning Teacher of the Year for all of Plano ISD!) and happy in life with my husband and our dog. Little did I know that I would be intimately connected with Larissa and her story and pain just three years later.

Allie and Mama after her first round of chemotherapy June 2004

On September 13, 2004, the very same day Taylor had relapsed three years prior, I held my daughter in my arms for the last time. At eight months twenty seven days, Allie's life ended. Her little body was just too weak to beat the cancer ravaging her body and she needed to be out of pain.

Every year on September 13th, I spend time with my husband and now 22 month old daughter for "Allie Day." With an event happening in two days, I am here at work for the morning to get some things done, and then we're off for Allie Day. For me, it is a sad day, yes, but a day to honor and remember her memory. I try to focus on the good days, and there were many, then the bad. I concentrate on her smile, her shining eyes, and her beautiful spirit.

I can't help but to think of Taylor today too. There was a reason that we were brought together. So many coincidences are out there between Taylor and Allie and their short lives. I was meant to meet Larissa, meant to work here with Heroes for Children, and meant for us both to carry out our daughters' legacies. So, today I remember why I sit here at this desk at the Heroes for Children office. It isn't to worry about the position a logo goes on a page or whether or not the helium tanks are ordered and paid for (though those are important for us today!), it is really about carrying on in loving memory of Taylor and Allie.

A few thanks...
To our beautiful angels--we miss you each and every day and wish you were here to celebrate being cancer free with us. However, we will carry on your legacy as long as we possibly can.
To the loves of my life Andrew and Maggie--thank you for being the best husband and daughter I could ask for. You fill my heart and make me whole again. Maggie, I wish you knew your sister, but I know she is watching over you always.

To our friends, family, and amazing HFC supporters--thank you for keeping the memories of Taylor and Allie alive each day and for supporting our families with love and compassion. We are so very blessed to know you!
To the HFC Staff--Cheryl, Christi, and Cricket--your dedication to the mission of Heroes for Children is unfailing. This organization would not continue without your hearts and passion. Thank you for giving your energy every day to the mission and for believing so firmly that what we do makes a difference. Heroes for Children and Larissa and I are blessed to know you!
To Larissa--I love you my friend. I never knew sweet Taylor, but I love just as much as I love your other three (soon to be four!!) gorgeous children. Thank you for being my friend.

1 comment:

LaDeeda Photography said...

Great post! There is no doubt that all of the connections with Aliie and Taylor's stories were coincidence. My heart goes out to you both in admiration!

On a side note, I had hoped to make it to Dallas this weekend for the HFC 5K but it wasn't in the cards for this year. Needless to say, all of you HFC supporters and the event are on my mind today. I just got home from eating lunch where I met the most precious little 18 month old, Peyton. She trotted right up to me proudly sporting her little bald head. We shoveled sand on the edge of the sanbox because with her port still in, the sand box was not an option. Right there in front of me was what childhood cancer and the AWESOME HFC are all about. So maybe I was not able to make the 5K this morning, but instead I spent lunch with the bravest little girl I know.
Grandma later told me are I left that Peyton just finished intensive chemo that was successful in shrinking her grapefruit-sized tumor. Surgery removed the rest and for the first time in her short 18 months she is cancer-free!
Can't wait to hear about today's events!