Fifteen years ago I wrote a children’s book. I had no children or real cares. I was twenty-three years old, newly married and sitting in my New York City apartment with my wonderful dog, Patton, by my side. After finishing the book, I tossed it aside and Patton and I went for our daily game of fetch in the park.
A few days later, I showed the book to my mother who adored it. She fell in love with the story and felt I needed to do something with it. “Send it to a publisher. Have it printed up!” she said. I didn’t. I was too busy and let it remain on the bottom of my rather large pile of papers.
Every few years she would bring the book up to me. “Maybe your friends know someone who could help,” she would say. “Maybe just send it to a few people.” I knew the children’s book market was tough and I had no contacts but told her I would. I forgot.
Many years later, shortly after having my third son, I heard the news that an old friend of mine’s son was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. He had a malignant tumor in his brain. He was the same age as my son Dylan, still a baby. My heart sank.
In a blink of an eye, I was attending her son’s funeral. He was only two years old. I stood there in front of an open casket staring at an adorable little boy in his footsie pajamas holding a teddy bear wishing his eyes would flicker open. “Please just open,” I begged as if they actually would.
That night as I tucked my boys into bed, I hugged them a little bit longer than usual…actually a lot longer than usual and brushed the tears away while they weren’t looking. That day changed my life. That was in 2011.
In 2013, I sat on my couch in my NJ suburban home with all three of my boys fast asleep. I was waiting for my husband to come home late from work and watching TV to pass the time. That night my mom and dad called and asked to stop in “just for a second,” they said. This was something they did often. But that night was different. That night they did not stop in just to say hello or drop off something I forgot at their house the day before. That night they didn’t sit and tell me they were worried I wasn’t getting enough sleep or tell me I needed to eat better. That night they told me my mother, the mother who I talk to daily, who picks my boys up from school when I am running late, brings random shirts, leggings, potted plants or an enormous box of Pirates Booty from Costco for me just because they were on sale and somehow she knew I needed them. That mother, my mom, was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. I was shocked, no devastated.
The next two years were a blur of surgeries, chemo, blood tests and a great deal of waiting. Waiting for a surgery to be over, waiting to hear results, waiting in doctors offices, for her to feel better or the next round to wear off. Just waiting. Waiting for it to all be over.
Luckily now in 2015 my mother is cancer free. The waiting is over and it has been a wonderful outcome. She has fewer organs than she used to but she is here and I am grateful.
But can’t help but think of my girlfriend who did all those things, waited all those times only to have a very different ending. I think of all those parents with children who never get to receive phone calls with a sigh of relief and all those children who never get to live the life my mother has.
One day, my mother was running out the door, just like she used to before the cancer, full of energy taking my boys into New York City to see The Rockettes and in turn giving me a day to clean my house. Her love and generosity is boundless. She turned to me again and said, “Meredith, whatever happen with that children’s book? I’m telling you, you should really do something with that.” And in that moment, after so many years of asking, I knew that was going to be the last time she was going to ask me that question. I knew I needed to create the book for her. Maybe for Mother’s Day, I thought.
By Mother’s Day the book was completed and her gift was given. She was elated. I decided to put it on Amazon because why not, right? I thought to myself though, this money cannot be for me or for my mother, it needs to be for those who are still suffering, those who are still waiting.
In my research of studying charities, I have been given the information that most cures found in children can cross over to help adults but a cure for an adult most likely cannot be used for children. I have also learned that only 4% of all our research money goes to pediatric cancer. 4% for all these suffering children is not enough. We need more. That is why I have chosen to give the proceeds of my books to pediatric cancer. I want help end the suffering. Help put a stop to funerals with footsie pajamas and caskets filled with our best friends, mothers, aunts, or siblings. I want to help end this horrible disease that not only affects the person who has it but wreaks havoc on everyone around them. I want Patton and Peanut’s fun adventures to help in finding the cure and maybe, just maybe, make a child smile along the way.