A Sad Sad Day

tissue flowers

I wrote about Gabriella Miller last December when she sparked the public world with not only her cancer diagnosis, but with her exuberant personality, determination and wish to make a difference. This little girl packed spunk, brilliance and compassion into one tiny package of adorable.

I have been diligently following the Facebook page, Make a Wish with Gabriella, throughout the year.  It is on that  page that I learned about her involvement in fundraising for childhood cancer, the family’s trip to Paris, Gabriella not only authoring a book but also her getting an honorary college degree at  Shenandoah University.  I  was also entertained with her giggling, her poems and many wonderful photos of daily life with her ‘younger’ brother;  “he’s 6 years old, but he’s not my little brother – he’s my younger brother!  He’s taller and heavier than me,” wrote Gabriella in a blog entry on the Smashing Walnuts Foundation site.

On Wednesday I read that Gabriella’s health had declined and she was at home with the care of hospice. My heart sank as did all who have been touched by Gabriella and her family  (to include the 19,268 and growing by the minute followers of the FB page).  I obsessively thought about Gabriella and her family almost all day of every day.  How could I not? How could any one not think about this bright personality being snuffed out by the beast that is cancer?

The community rallied with hope and prayer.  On Friday there was a request on the Make a Wish for Gabriella page to make tissue paper flowers.  ” We are going to take all of these flowers and create giant bouquets of hand-made flowers in bright colors, just like Gabriella loves.”  And so the flowers bloomed, big, beautiful and bright like Gabriella’s smile and personality.

This morning, I learned that Gabriella passed away last night. Heaviness abounded.  Her spark has been darkened, but not extinguished; Gabriella was fierce and has left behind an energy and passion that will continue.  She stated in her interview for Truth 365  “if I lose my battle, I want other people to carry on with the war, they’re going to win this war”.

Gabriella, I pray with all of my being that we will continue your war and win it.  Like your mom frequently posts “I HATE cancer”.  No one should ever have to hear the words “your child has cancer”.   I thank your family for sharing you with us; I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been, caring for  you and your brother, dealing with personal grief and continuing to advocate, fight and share with all of those who care so desperately about you, your battle and childhood cancer.   Gabriella, may your memory be a blessing, Z”L.

Gabriella’s family has requested that those who wish to honor Gabriella make a contribution to her cancer awareness and research foundation at www.smashingwalnuts.com.


Make it Stop

violence 2


I first saw it on FB  (that won’t surprise anyone.  1. that it was on FB and 2. that is where I get  my news alerts).

A friend had posted that her husband, who works at the Navy Yard, was safe.  Confused, I turned on the television only to learn that yet another person had taken innocent lives with a gun.

My  first reaction was out and out anger. I was pissed!

After watching too much news coverage on the local news,  I returned to the ‘source’ and saw a friend’s FB post about “death to the Yankees” (clearly a die hard Red Sox fan).   I gently asked if he would  consider squashing or obliterating the Yankees in light of the recent news.  He had, of course, not heard about the tragedy at the Navy Yard and quickly deleted the unintentional faux pax (Yankees or no Yankees).

This most recent tragedy is really eating at me.  I am an emotional person and always experience the sadness and loss of these senseless acts; but the amount of anger that is upon me was unexpected.

Tonight a client  told me about his five year old misbehaving.   Apparently this adorable kindergartener had “decorated” his bathroom with his sister’s make-up. He did this not once or twice, but as of last night, FIVE times.  His dad and I discussed his consequences and how they escalated in severity with each new lavatory masterpiece. We questioned what might be driving his behavior: negative attention, resentment at sister or just a budding artist?

Five times? He took his sister’s make-up five times?  What can his parents do to help him learn from his mistakes? How can he convey whatever the message is that he is trying to communicate? There is clearly something amiss in the dynamics of this family system.

I return to the latest violence.  Five times? I wish it had only been five times that some mentally ill person had taken a gun and redecorated the lives of an innocent family.  What  is the dynamic of this system? How many consequences  need to occur before some parents somewhere get their act together and stop this misbehaving?

I can still be stunned when one of my kids looks at me as the “grown-up”, the one to make a decision, the one to make it right.  Is it me, my peers, we adults that have to curb the insanity of this misbehaving?

I feel powerless.

I can vote, I can lobby and I can work diligently on the issues of mental health, but I can’t stop this insanity.  An elementary school, a high school, a college, a movie theater, a marathon.  These are our places, these are our lives, these are our friends and families that are getting killed – when will the grown ups make it stop?