Dear Gabriella

Dear Gabriella, 

I am sure you already know a huge part of the reason why I was looking forward to CureFest last month was because I would finally meet your parents. Your mom and I talk on Facebook a lot, and sometimes I just send hearts. I love how they float on the screen, and I’m sure she does too. 

You’ve been showing up in my life in a big way, and maybe that’s why I feel so connected to you. Thank you for the hearts you send, and for making me smile. You inspire me so much, sweet girl, and you know I’m doing everything I can to help win this war. I’m listening. Thank you for pushing me to reach out to your mom, and thank you for our friendship. 

I will never forget that moment at CureFest when she saw me. It’s true what they say, how some souls just recognize each other upon meeting, and meeting your mom just felt right to me. I wasn’t scared at all. Later, she told me that it felt like we’ve been friends forever and we just hadn’t seen each other for a while. I agree! And when she hugged me and kissed my cheek, my mind was quiet and my heart happy. 

We took a picture with you the only way we could. 

We were able to talk for a few moments too, and I gave her some more hugs (not enough, never enough – but at least I got a chance to tell her that I love her), and she talked about your brother for a bit. I can imagine that things like CureFest are hard on him – he was 6 when he lost you, but I know you are working to make things better for him, for your mom, and for your dad. No one can take away their hurt, but at least I was able to sit with your mom and feel it with her for a bit. We held each other’s hands so tightly, and I absolutely hated to leave her. 

But I know it’s only the first time I see her. 

She told me to come back to the Smashing Walnuts booth before I left Curefest, and I did. That’s when I met your dad. Your mom introduced us, and I shook his hand. Your mom told him who I was, a neuroblastoma survivor. He asked me how old I was when I was diagnosed, and I held up one finger. I was one year old – 15 months old to be exact. 

What does it say about the world we live in when babies get stage 4 cancer and nothing is done about it? What does it say about the world we live in when 9 year olds get brain cancer and her doctors have to tell her parents there is no cure, that their precious little girl is going to die? 

All of this makes me so angry, Gabriella. I wish so much that I met your parents under different circumstances, that you were still here, and I could talk to you and you could talk back. I would even sacrifice knowing your family if it meant they could have you back, whole and healthy, as if the last 4 years never happened. As it is, I can’t do anything for your family but love them, and they already have that in spades. The love I feel for you, though, is so much stronger than anything anger can produce. Love wins the war – that is what you always knew and tried to teach us. We hear you. We will always hear you. 

Please keep on showing us the way. You lead, we follow. 

You are so loved, always. 

XOXO, 

D

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