We will never find words remotely adequate to convey our gratitude for the love, support and outpouring of shared grief in the past 2 years and 11 months while Emilia fought cancer and last week when she died. The depth of sadness and anticipatory grief we have felt pales in comparison to the loss we are now mourning. Having over 400 people come to see us the West Shore Country Club and then seeing a ballroom filled with over 800 friends, family, teachers, co-workers and even some strangers, was overwhelming but truly helped us get through the night and the days since. Emilia’s friends and family who were part of the service made us laugh through the tears and we are honored that so many people joined us in remembering her short life. We would especially like to thank our friends who organized all the details of such a beautiful service and visitation night and the effort they put forth for us so that we were not burdened at such a sorrowful time. Flowers, programs, snacks, the locations, pictures, slide shows, guest books, food at our house and much, much more. They thought of everything and we are so grateful that they did that for us.
Now that the ceremony is over and we have returned to work and school, we are counting on our memories and the countless photos and videos as well as the stories from her friends, to keep us going. Some of our happiest memories with Emilia took place after she was diagnosed with cancer; going to Hawaii, being at the beach in Delaware, dancing with Gym Club at THON and just hanging out with people she loved. The video tribute Emilia’s friends made for the service was the perfect mix of all those memories and we loved how hard we were laughing at all their memories, and especially at Max. If he can still be silly and goofy and smile at this time, so can we.
Cousin Dave wondered why we let our kids on golf carts and what kind of trouble they were getting into here in Pennsylvania and it’s funny that cancer is why we rented that golf cart. Last October we went camping with 7 families to celebrate Emilia’s 100 days since her bone marrow transplant. Reaching the 100 day mark is a big milestone for transplant patients and we wanted to mark the occasion but because she was immune suppressed it wasn’t easy thinking of a way to celebrate where she would still be safe from germs but also have fun. Camping fit the bill and the bonus was that there was a Halloween theme to the weekend with trick or treating, hay rides and a golf cart that we rented for the entire weekend. You can’t imagine the squeals of laughter and the fun those kids had taking turns piling into the golf cart and making endless loops through the campground looking at the decorations, being chased by a dog and later being sought out as speedsters by the campground caretakers. Parents and the one licensed teenager took turns driving them around on a beautiful fall weekend and on those days, Emilia was just one of the kids laughing and making memories with her friends but also being celebrated for the long months of treatment she endured for a second time and looking forward to a bright future free from cancer. We will never get to see what the future may have held for her but we will treasure every memory we have. Some people say that cancer changes their lives in a way that they would never undo what they endured, they become glad for it and wouldn’t change it. I realize now that only people who get to live say that. If we could go back in time we would change it all but we can’t so we will be grateful that so many were with us along the way, helping us through the long days and nights of treatment, the long years we all suffered with her and the days where she was healthy and we made new, happy memories. In Judaism when someone dies people say, “ may her memory be a blessing”. Emilia’s memory will be that and so much more to us. As heartbroken as we are, we will try to smile through the tears and remember all the good she was and brought out in people and how she united so many. Thank you for loving our girl with us and grieving her loss at our sides. Mitchell, Natalie and Max