Saturday, July 15, 2017
Sunday, July 9, 2017
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Program of Study
Grade 9 - Principles of the Biomedical Sciences
Grade 10 - Human Body Systems
Grade 11 - Medical Interventions
Grade 12 - Biomedical Innovation PLTWW Biomed CWE
Thursday, June 22, 2017
On the last day of school, I sent an email to all of Becca's teachers from middle school:
We wanted to say a special thank you to all of Becca's teachers from Franklin Middle School. As you know she didn't have the "normal" family and middle school years, however each and everyone of you played an important role on helping her to overcome all she had too. We all worked together to make sure she developed the skills along with the resilience she would need to get to where she is today. Each year was difficult in its own right due to Ian's ups and downs and never knowing when he would pass. With that happening so early in her 8th grade year, you all took her under your wings to make sure she would have a safe place to be dealing with her grief, thank you for that. Please know Franklin Middle will hold a special place in our hearts for all you have done for our family over the last 3 years.
Have a wonderful summer and continue to do what you all do so wonderfully, teach and care for the kids.
I heard back from a few of her teachers and I wanted to share the wonderful things they had to say:
Thank you for your kind works. It was my pleasure to support her during her experiences at FMS. Becca is a wonderful, young woman who will continue to persevere. I look forward to hearing about all her accomplishments as she progresses through high school.
I am very touched by your email.
Thank you for your kind message, and it was great having the opportunity to work with Becca in 7th grade. I know that she will do great things in high school and in the future to come!
Thank you for the pleasure of teaching her!
Thank you for your kind message. Please know that you and your family will also be in my heart.
Thank you very much for your email. Your family has been in my thoughts, especially this year. Becca is such a wonderful student and person! Her strength and personality I am sure will lead to a bright future! I wish her the best of luck as she continues into high school.
It was a pleasure to teach Becca. I wish her the very best in the future.
Friday, June 16, 2017
When someone you love has experienced the loss of a child, it's hard on everyone. They are engulfed in a sea of unbearable pain and grief and sorrow while you may be struggling to stand beside them, wondering what to say, what to do, and what they need. You love them dearly, but you don't really know what they are going through and you don't know what to do.
Maybe you're grieving too.
Maybe you're suffering as you witness their suffering.
Maybe you feel helpless.
Maybe you find yourself saying all the wrong things because you don't know what else to say.
Maybe you want to love them through this, but no one taught you how to do that.
Most of us don't really know how to navigate this thing called grief. They don't teach Grief 101 in high school (although, perhaps they should!).
In an ideal world, your heartbroken loved one would be able to say, "Here, this is what I need. This is how you can help me." Unfortunately, that's generally not how it works. They have been crushed by a devastating loss and, chances are, they're giving everything they have to simply get out of bed in the morning. Trying to articulate what they need and what kind of support they want probably feels next to impossible.
Fortunately, loving a grieving friend or family member isn't as complicated as it can seem. Generally, it's simply about being a compassionate and kind human.
First and foremost, show up. Be here.
Show up at their door. Run errands for them. Do their laundry. Make them meals and sit with them to ensure they eat (many times in early grief people lose their appetite and don't eat regularly). Lay on the bed and hold them while they cry.
Continue to show up for months or years - this is a lifetime loss and they will need you for a lifetime. Text them. Call them. Send cards. Remember birthdays and anniversaries of their child's life. Help them plan birthday parties and holiday remembrances and show up for death anniversaries. Mark them on your calendar so you don't forget - because they won't. And they won't forget those who show up for them.
You will likely say or do the wrong thing at some point. But if you are willing to keep showing up and work through the discomfort, that's what will matter. That's how you'll help.
Grief is not short lived. Nor is it linear or simple or logical.
Grieving a child takes a lifetime. We love our children for a lifetime and we will grieve them for a lifetime. Society likes to tell us that after a certain period of time, grief should be completed and we should be ready to find "closure" and "move on."
To be quite honest, if you buy into it that way of thinking, you will struggle to be able to support your loved one as long as they will need you to.
Your friend or family member will grieve far longer than you will want to hear about it or be around it. This is where they will need you to be patient and understanding.
Those who grieve their child(ren) will eventually find a way to live with that grief and that aching hole in their life, but they will never stop missing their child or longing to hold them. Birthdays and holidays and anniversary dates may be painful and challenging for the rest of their life.
When you find yourself tiring of their grief or wanting them to "get over it already," remember - they are far, far more exhausted and sick of grieving than you can even imagine. This is when they need you most to keep showing up.
While you might be struggling to know what to say, it's likely your loved one really wants someone who will listen.
Really, truly listen.
To their fears. To their grief. To their doubts and guilt and regrets and questioning. To the part of them that feels like they've failed their children. To their anger and their rage at the injustice of their children's lives being cut short. To the urges of grief that make them feel crazy and abnormal.
Let those you love simply talk with you and be heard without judgment or false optimism. Don't try to fix it or to help them feel something different - just listen.
Listen and when you want to object to something they are saying, or inject your own thoughts, stay silent and listen even more.
Listen and then simply tell them that you love them and you are here.
Here's the honest truth: For a while, your friend or family member isn't going to be a terribly great friend or family member.
They probably won't always show up for holiday celebrations or birthdays or fun outings. They'll probably forget your birthday and anniversary and other special occasions. They may not feel up to attending baby showers and children's birthdays or being around babies and kids at all (this particular thing might last for years).
In that first year after their child died especially, they will probably forget things you told them or make plans and either forget about them or cancel at the last minute because they couldn't get out of bed that day.
When you complain about every day matters like being tired or your child acting up or the annoying co-worker you can't stand, they may not engage in the conversation the way they used to or may tell you that you're overreacting. It's not hat they don't care about your difficulties, it's simply that what they've experienced is so overwhelmingly huge everything else feels small and meaningless in comparison.
So, when they can't be the friend or family member you remember or want them to be, forgive them. They're still learning how to navigate life after the entire landscape has changed - not unlike being dropped in a foreign land with no map and no way to communicate.
GET TO KNOW THEM
However long you may have known your loved one or how well you might have known them, be prepared to get to know them all over again.
The loss of a child changes us in irrevocable ways.
Your friend or family member isn't the person they once were and they will never fully be that person again. Grief has forged them into someone new.
Don't be surprised if they don't respond to things the way they once would have or if they suddenly aren't interested in things they used to love or if the beliefs about the world they used to hold so dear are ones they cannot abide by anymore.
No, they won't be the person you remember and loved so very much. Grief will change and morph them into someone new - and even that will change and morph again over time.
But don't give up on them too quickly. They may not be the person you knew, but you might really love the person they have or are becoming.
Take time to get to know the new post-loss them.
Finally, if you do nothing else, remember with them.
Help them remember their child through the years and comfort them with the knowledge that their child has not and will not be forgotten.
Share memories with them. Say their child's name. Remember their child birthday. Honor them on the holidays and for Mother's and Father's day. Donate in their child's name. Read articles like this one and discuss it with your friend or family member.
Give your loved on the gift of remembering their child. It's the greatest gift you can give.
And above all else, love them. Love them so deeply and openly and clearly they can't help but feel it radiating from you.
They need you and they need that love.
Love them fiercely.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
It took a while to get a date down that would work for Becca and the wonderful Chai Lifeline volunteers we are close with, but finally we did, Sunday, June 4th. It was small but meaningful...4 volunteers, Becca, Brian and I went rollerskating. Well, some of us skated and the others watched. Rollerskating is hard work but lots of fun. We sang happy birthday, had cup cakes and Becca got a few things to take to camp with her. When we were done, we went outside and did a balloon release wishing Ian a happy belated birthday.
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Every photo has a story behind it. Ian had many caregivers in his life, one of his first ones was Alyssa, his camp counselor from Camp Milldale. Alyssa was with Ian for 3 summers and would continue to visit and spend time with our family after she moved onto her teaching career. The other day I got an email from her with this amazing photo. It brought back so many wonderful stories of their time together....so I asked Alyssa if she was game to share the story behind the photo. In Alyssa's words...
One of Ian's favorite games to play when I came to babysit or visit was doctor, and of course, he was the doctor. I knew exactly where you kept the doctor's kit in the basement because I was always immediately sent downstairs to get it when I walked in the door. In the earlier years, I would lie down on the couch and Ian would use the various tools to examine me or give me shots. I underwent at least 20 "surgeries" in his capable hands...or should I say maybe not so capable because at least once or twice he forgot to sew me back up or put my brain back :-) Later on when he was not as mobile, he would still boss me around, telling me which tools to hand him and what to do with them. Then it was my own fault if my brain got left out of my head ;p When I think about Ian, this is one of my favorite memories.
Thanks for sharing Alyssa and putting a smile on our faces with this wonderful photo and story.
Friday, June 2, 2017
|Thank you to my co-workers at Chizuk Amuno for purchasing this for us.|
Friday, May 26, 2017
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Monday, May 22, 2017
- The achievement of milestones such as the ability to sit independently, stand, or walk when they would otherwise be unable to do so.
- Maintaining milestones at ages when they would be expected to lose them.
- Surviving longer than expected considering the typical course of their disease (number of SMN2 copies).
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Thursday, May 11, 2017
I miss my child every day. The grief of mine will never leave me, and honestly, why should it? I love my child more than I ever could have imagined, and yes, I do mean present tense "love". It is excruciating knowing that my child will never return to my arms. However, a mother's love for her child doesn't require physical presence; this can be proven by the fact that most mothers love their children well before they are even born. I will love my child forever, and therefore, I will grieve my child forever. This is just how it goes.
I know it's difficult for some people to understand my ongoing grief, I guess because they want me to "get better" or return to "normal." However, I actually am normal. I'm just different now. I believe those who say they want to support me on difficult days like Mother's Day, but part of this accepting me as a grieving mother who will always love her deceased child. Again, this is just now it goes.
My grief is like the weather. Somedays it's calm, quiet, maybe even a little sunny. Other days it's a devastating storm that makes me feel angry, exhausted, raw, and empty. I wake up in the morning and wonder -- "Am I even alive at all? And if so, how am I supposed to make it through this day?" This is why when you ask me how I feel about Mother's Day, all i can say that it depends. Of course, I'm going to try my best to cope with the day, but while you're hoping that your Mother's Day picnic doesn't get spoiled by actual rain, I'll be praying that the grief storms stay at bay.
Like make things in a grieving mother's life, Mother's Day is bittersweet to the nth degree. On the one hand, I feel immense joy because I was blessed with my child and I feel gratitude for every moment I was given with them. On the other hand, the pain of missing my child -- the greatest happiness, my life's purpose, and my best friend -- is intense.
Bereaved mothers live with so many of these confusing contrasts. They are like undercurrents that tug at and toss about our hearts and minds. I am a mother to a child who is not alive. Perhaps a child who you've never met. You can't ask me about their school year, or how they're liking piano lessons, or whether they've chosen a major in college. In my mind, I've imagined my child doing all these things. People don't realize that I grieve each of my child's milestones, knowing they didn't get the opportunity to experience these special days.
Most people don't know how to validate my child's place in the world or my ongoing role as my child's mother. This is a difficult concept for others to grasp. Heck, sometimes even I grapple with the answers to questions like "Do you have children?" and "How many?." I know many bereaved mothers, like me, long for these questions to have straightforward answers. Sadly, mothers who have experienced the death of their only child may even wonder whether they get to call themselves a mother at all in broader society. So, in addition to the pain of grief, these mothers have to cope with a sense of being left out, forgotten, and ignored. Can you imagine how that might feel? I think it must be like being stabbed through the heart and when you turn to others for help they say "What blood?" "What knife?"
Then, for mothers who have surviving children, there is this gem of a comment -- "Don't forget, you're lucky to have other children." Please let me assure you, a mother does not forget any of her children, which is kind of the point. This mother loves each and every one of her unique and special children in unique and special ways, but one of her children has died and so her love for this child looks like a little untraditional. Mothers do not have a finite amount of love to be shifted, divided, and spread around depending on the number of children they have on this Earth. So please be careful with your comments, because this dynamic is difficult enough for grieving mothers who often feel torn between feeling joy and happiness for their living children and grief for the child who has died.
All that said, you asked me what it's like to grieve a child on Mother's Day, so here's what I have to say:
This day will forever be hard for me. I live with an emptiness that no one can fill; so I may be sad, I may be unsocialable, and I may need to take a break to myself in a quiet place. Whatever shape my grief takes on this day, please allow me to feel the way I feel and please follow my lead.
Beyond that, acknowledge me as a mother. It makes me feel forgotten and as though my child has been forgotten when people act as though my child never existed. Also, I can sense that people feel uncomfortable talking about my child and I constantly feel like the elephant in the room, but it doesn't have to be this way. Honestly, I find it really comforting when someone talks about my child. I love hearing their name spoken out loud! I love hearing stories about them. Maybe you know a story I've never heard, or maybe I've heard it a hundred times before, but it really doesn't matter to me. Your acknowledgement alone is one of the greatest Mother's Day gifts you could give me.
I guess while I'm offering my two cents, I also have something to say to bereaved mothers. No one has it all figured out, but I've learned a few lessons along the way. If you're worried about Mother's Day, you're not alone. Try not to get overwhelmed or wrapped up in anxiety. You may actually find that the anticipation of the day is worse than the day itself. You may want to plan a whole day of activities just to stay busy, or you may feel like doing nothing at all. There is no "right" way to handle Mother's Day -- but do try to plan ahead a little. You may want to reach out to others who are struggling with the day and, if you can, it always helps to face the day with people who love and support you.
Whatever you do, believe you will make it through the day. With time, the grief storms show grow smaller and less frequent and you will find a little more balance and room to breathe. Believe you will be okay and have hope that in the future you will find yourself in a place where you can grieve and celebrate on Mother's Day all at the same time.
Let's take care of each other,
Cathy Thomas, the girls leader, worked hard with them to have it all come together. Last night, Cathy along with some of the other mom's, had the privilege of letting the girls know that Girl Scouts of Central Maryland APPROVED their project.
Way to go girls....we couldn't be more proud.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
I just finished reading OPTION B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, telling Sheryl's story of the sudden death of her husband. Her life with her husband was Option A and once he passed away she had no choice but to move into Option B. I know over the years, especially the months since Ian's passing you have struggled with finding your Option B, we all have. For all of us emotions have come, gone and come again; anger has come, gone and come again. as well as tears have come, gone and come again. Daddy and I don't know what it is like to lose a brother but we do know what it is like to lose Ian...to be the only other two people who know what it is like to have constant things going on in the house 24/7 and in a minute for that to be turned upside down. We knew for years this would happen, we prepared as much as possible but to truly prepare is not possible. One does not know how they are going to react when it finally happens. The pain, relief, emptiness, sadness, loneliness...it all comes up. You have put some walls up to help you get through the days, some of those days are easier than others...those days will come and go just as the walls will come and go. You have to let some walls down, cry, share emotions with us as well as with others who have experienced a loss like yours. We hope this has helped you to know and see it is okay to continue loving.
Resilience means the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness or the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. Resilience in love means finding strength from within that you can share with others. Finding a way to make love last through the highs and lows. Finding your own way to love when life does not work out as planned. Finding the hope to love and laugh again when love is cruelly taken from you. And finding a way to hang on to love even when the person you love is gone. - From Option B.
You may not realize but with each passing day you are building resilience...it will come and go over the days, weeks, months and years. Little by little we are seeing joy come back into our lives, we are laughing and smiling....one reason is because we know Ian would want us to find joy, laughter and smiles again. To continue living. We talk about him, we think about the good and the bad times with him as well as the funny things he did...oh and there were plenty. As we learn to live in our "new normal", know that we see so much in you, know that over the years you will have joy, laughter, good times and bad, sadness, loss, plus much more. There will be hard times as well as easy times. At times the pain is front and center and other times you forget it is even there. The resilience you are building, finding a way to hang on to love even when the person you love is gone, will guide you through so much in life and has and will continue to make you the wonderful, caring person you are.