Friday, July 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Donna

I have Parent Privilege.

I am a parent who has never lost a child. I cannot imagine. I cannot look at my children, living and breathing and sitting in front of me; children who argue with me and whine and lay their little heads upon my shoulder, I cannot imagine my life without them.

I cannot imagine losing them.

I huff at waking up early to deliver them to daycare and I fight with them to go to bed. I count down the days to free moments. I scold them for bothering me when I'm writing. I pride myself on their accomplishments and take photos of their faces.

I am privileged.

I cry when I read stories of loss. I type, "I am sorry." I EMPATHIZE, but I do not understand. I am luckily not part of the that club, "The parents who have buried a child club." I have parent privilege. I offer my condolences, I wear ribbons, I do 5Ks, I buy the T-shirts and I shaved my head, but I do not really understand. And I hope I never do.

On March 30th, 2013, my family shaved our heads in honor of Donna. We raised money, like good privileged parents, for the St. Baldrick's Foundation and pediatric cancer research. People praised our courage. But all we did was go bald. As my hair grew back I became more and more acutely aware of my privilege. Hair grows back, but children who died of cancer do not come back. My family was not brave; we never even saw a battle. We hopefully never will.

I do not want to be a warrior or a survivor or a part of any clubs. I just want to continue being lucky.

So what was the point? What IS the point of honoring Donna? What does mourning a child I never was able to meet do, besides stroke a philanthropist's ego? What is the take away of a day that changed me forever?

Simple facts:
1. In the U.S., childhood cancer kills more children than any other disease.
2. Worldwide, every 3 minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer.
3. 1 out of 5 of those children will die.
4. Nearly all children who survive childhood cancer will suffer life long health consequences from treatment.
5. Out of all the funding in the US, for pediatric cancer, only 4% goes to all the types of childhood cancer combined.
 6. Our $2,000 to St. Baldrick's, in Donna's name, was part of the $22 million that provided 63 grants this summer for research into pediatric cancer.

Those are simple facts that I carry with me like a sword. They have changed the way I parent. They have changed the way I look at other parents. Those facts are a reality that gives me the HONOR of representing a person who I was never able to meet and a mother whose path would probably have never crossed mine, had it not been for her tremendous loss. A mother whose pain I cannot understand, but will forever hold deep within my soul.

For I am privileged, but I have been touched.

July 20, 2013 is Donna's would have/should have been 8th birthday. I will be wearing her favorite color. I will be thanking her for four years of beauty and strength, which are now, despite her physical absence, changing the world.

If a Birthday Happens and No One Is There To Blow Out The Candles Do You Still Celebrate?

St. Baldrick's Foundation
Mary Tyler Mom
Donna's Good Things