On Thanksgiving day I was at the dinner table talking and relaxing with my family. We chatted about this and that and were having a great time. I glanced down at my iPod and then heard the news, a friend of ours who we met here in Birmingham had just passed away in her husbands arms. She was 28.
Let me back up a bit - toward the end of 2011 Janette started to feel tired. Don't we all? But she also noticed other things that seemed off too. In November she was diagnosed with leukemia. We were all scared. How could this be? She was a mom. I am a mom. This sort of thing is impossible right? Right?! It didn't feel real. We were all so devastated but we knew that Janette was strong, positive and determined and that if anyone could fight this it would be her. And fight hard she did.
Her journey to fight leukemia began here in Birmingham. Her husband, Marc was just weeks away from graduation and their life was turned upside down. She began her treatment here and Marc became her permanent caretaker but soon it was too much and they moved to Utah to be close to family that could help take care of her little boys, Connor (6) and Brayden (4). So we followed her journey from afar through her blog, Janette's Journey.
She would tell us about the 3 bone marrow transplants, about the troubles her organs would face, she talked about the hallucinations, the isolation, the pain, the fatigue, the nightmares, the time she went blind, the fevers, the endless waiting for results. But there were good days too. The days she got to hold her boys, the days she got to go home, the days she felt like she could take on the world, the closeness she got to feel with her husband and the days that made her see the world and life in a whole new way. She was strong. She was inspiring.
She fought hard and did things that seemed impossible. In her final post before she passed she wrote, "I hope I am home for Thanksgiving!" My heart broke at those words but I also felt comforted because she was home. It wasn't the home she was hoping for with her little boys but it was her heavenly home where she can watch over her family and wait for their reunion, free from the pains of this world.
In the weeks since her passing I have been strengthened by her husband and boys. Although Marc is devastated he has strength and grace. You can read his thoughts after her passing here. And just the other day his little boy said to him, "We miss mom now, but we don't have to miss her forever, we will be with her in heaven someday! We will always love her!" Oh the faith of a child!
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that you could help. Popular San Francisco wedding photographer, Marielle Hayes, has generously selected this family for her annual fundraiser. For any donation amount given she will give you a digital file of this beautiful print of hers. It is a mother with her child and to me it signifies the strength and power that mothers have.
So please take a moment to check out Marielle's post about this great family and the needs they now face and consider a donation (in any amount) to bless a family that has fought so much and still has a long journey ahead as they try to heal. 100% of the donations will go to Marc and his boys.
This holiday season I hope we can all be a little more grateful for the things we have in our lives. May we hug our kids a little tighter and speak kinder to our spouses. May we call our parents and tell them we love them and may we all draw closer to God and be inspired to do great things.