Earlier this week, I was perched in my favorite chair, drinking my morning coffee and sharing peanut butter toast with my pooches when there was a segment on the Today Show about childhood cancer. I was sobbing as I watched the video that Hoda Kotb had orchestrated with music artists Sara Barielles and Cyndi Lauper, combining their songs "True Colors" and "Brave" to create Truly Brave . (click the song title to watch the video...tissues required) A tribute and encouragement to kids battling cancer and the stars of the video were none other than kids who are currently fighting the disease. It was so touching...I was a blubbery mess. I shared the link to the video on my Facebook page and not long after, someone I've know nearly my entire life, commented on the video....someone who knew firsthand just how devastating this disease can be.
Bobbi (Dombrowski) Thomas and I grew up in rural NW Pennsylvania and started first grade together. We didn't have Kindergarten then at our school. We're not so old that it hadn't been invented yet, I just like to tell people that we were so smart, we went straight to first grade.
Bobbi, was my first "Polish" friend. And no...I don't mean she was a little girl who came to America from Poland...she simply had the letters "ski" on the end of her name...and if my memory serves me correctly, she told some of the best Polish jokes in Elementary school. (now this was way before being politically correct was invented...we didn't take life so seriously back then... and we all made fun of ourselves). We were classmates all through school and like most people, after high school we went our separate ways and lost touch. Thanks to social media, we have now reconnected through Facebook. I do remember having a phone conversation with my Mom at some point several years ago, when she mentioned that Bobbi's young daughter, Kayla, had been battling cancer and the prognosis was not good. I remember thinking to myself then "I just can't even imagine...". I still can't....but after watching that video, I finally reached out and contacted Bobbi about an idea that I've had for quite some time and just hadn't followed through...a way not only to celebrate Kayla's life...but to do something in her memory that would make a difference to other kids facing cancer. Quilts. Of course Quilts! What if we collect quilts that could be given to other children facing cancer...to honor Kayla.
I never met Kayla, but thanks to Facebook, I have seen pictures of her occasionally and I get to feel her family's love for her....as well as their sense of loss. I asked Bobbi if she wouldn't mind sharing a bit of Kayla with you and here is what she wrote....
When Penny first approached me with the idea of gathering quilts as a way to honor the life of my daughter Kayla Rose I was instantly brought to tears. As anyone who has lost a child will tell you, there is a deep fear that your little one will be forgotten, and just the thought of paying tribute to Kayla's life on what would have been her 25th birthday is beyond special.
Most of you never had the opportunity to know Kayla, but through this letter, I am hopeful you will find a sense of the child she was, the young lady she had grown to be, and the woman she never had the chance to become.