I am a volunteer of Hospice of Orange and Sullivan County in New York. The concept of our book was born in our own grieving process when my young family dealt with a series of deaths and hospice worthy situations in over the course of nine years. The ability to take a less than desirable situation and turn it into lessons of love is something that I have been gifted with.
Our daughter was 9 when our journey began; she lost two Grandmothers, two Grandfathers’ and an Aunt. Raising a child while you are the primary caregiver of a person or persons on hospice is equivalent to walking a tightrope made of razor wire. Every step you make is going to hurt; it’s a matter of learning how to take each step slow enough, that there are no serious scars left behind.
Our daughter watched as we went to each doctor’s appointment, cleaned up each mess, and cared for each loved one. It was rarely easy, but she witnessed firsthand the gift of giving without expectation. She is now nearly 19 years old and although there were many nights we questioned our ability to keep going, I am telling you that our daughter is proof positive that our gentle steps on our razor wire tight rope taught her the true meaning of love, compassion and empathy. The wisdom she gained from our experience could never be taught in a book. She is now attending her first year in Penn. State, doing exceptionally well and thriving in ways we could never have dreamt. We kept going, scar less.
As a result of our experience with the end of life as a young parent, I felt a compelling need to “give back” to hospice. Our book in part, asks for donations to be made to hospice, but we also decided to donate our book to the children in the Grieving center at Hospice. As a result of our donation, I was invited to speak to the families that were experiencing or had experienced the loss of life.
Each child received a teddy bear, they each had the chance to pick their seat with their parent and we began to discuss that although not every experience is the same that more often than not one of the best ways to remember someone that has passed on is by doing something kind for someone when you can.
I was able to get on the same level as the kids and really relate to the families in a way that as I was speaking I felt a charge in my heart that what I was doing was being led by a force higher than myself! Each child was given a book and an opportunity to celebrate the life of a loved one lost by doing something kind for someone else.
One of the parents referred to the book as “an allowing” I thought this was a beautiful reference to our book. It’s so rare that in this world we are given the chance of allowing, none the less given a tool or earthly prop that perhaps is being led by a force higher than we can take credit for. Perhaps each book is given the wings of an angel, your angel, your lost loved one. You just must believe, and then allow.
Christmas time is almost always associated with Santa Clause, and that’s great for most. What I believe is the magic of Christmas is simply allowing and believing in the ability of something miraculous. I had the honor of speaking with a parent at the close of our discussion. She was given the gift of hope again. Hope that perhaps her mother’s loss of life was not in vain and that she could carry out her memory by using our book to create moments in other’s lives that her mother had created for her in her family through the years. Our book is the gift that keeps on giving and I can’t tell you how honored we are to be a part of it! The night that I spoke at hospice allowed me the opportunity to give back a little hope to a young grieving mother and that my friends, is Christmas… the belief in the ability of something miraculous.