Today is Donna Day. Never heard of it before? Well, listen up. Donna was a livewire, dancer, adorable girl who died. She died four years ago, at the age of four, after surviving brain cancer as long as she could. I know about Donna because her mom is Sheila Quirke, a well-known blogger known as Mary Tyler Mom around here, and an activist on behalf of her girl and other kids with cancer.
I’ve learned a lot today about Donna listening to people who knew her – about her dance career, her sparkle, her kindness. You could say that she never had a chance, but you could also say that she made the most of her chance, and lived a life worth living. It sounds like she threw herself headlong into life and filled up on its delights.
I’m a grief counselor. I believe in holding memories close. I believe in grieving through action. I believe in others offering love and support, not turning away because it hurts so much to see a family’s pain. I believe in telling the truth about grief – it’s hard and it’s with us for life. I believe in recognizing that it could be us, in fact it will be us who will eventually be visited (if we haven’t been already) by losses of our own.
And I believe that Donna is in fact still here, in the hearts of people who got to know her (and in those who are learning about her now), and in the hands of those who try to prevent cancer taking other kids, and in the grit of her mother who speaks up and shares in a way that makes the rest of us more aware and more compassionate.
I also believe that each of us can do our bit to help by donating to St. Baldrick’s Foundation to help put an end to pediatric cancer. Click here to donate.
If you’d like to read more about Donna Day, go to this Storify link for the thoughts of other ChicagoNow bloggers.
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