When your child is first diagnosed with cancer, your phone rings off the hook. Everyone is eager to help in any way they can with offers of financial assistance, meals, and many, many prayers. Then the cancer battle rages on and slowly that support starts to dwindle. Your family is still embroiled in the fight of a lifetime but the public interest dies down. They might think of you but they stop making the effort to check in.
Unfortunately, this also happens after your child dies from cancer. When Olivia first passed away, our phone once again rang off the hook. We had a revolving door of people dropping off meals and checking in with us. They all knew that we had to be hurting tremendously and we absolutely were.
But here’s the thing… the pain of losing a child doesn’t disappear after the first few weeks or months. Or the first year. In fact, the pain of losing a child is always present. You might be able to function better on a daily basis, but your heart is still just as broken.
And there are constant reminders of the family member you are missing. You are faced with the first anniversary of their passing, the first birthday without them, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, etc. And the pain doesn’t stop there. It continues on for each and every single one of the major occasions that still happen every year without your baby.
You never forget but others do. They might look at pictures of your baby or read a story about what it’s like to be a grieving parent and feel empathy for you, but that empathy no longer turns into action. Very few people continue to pick up the phone or send messages of support. The interest dies down more and more each day and you feel like screaming, “Please, don’t forget my baby!”
Olivia was my daughter. Her life was real and valuable. And her battle was incredibly hard! She went to Heaven at 20 months old, robbing all of us of the life we should have had together. This hurts more than I will ever be able to put into words. But what can hurt just as much is seeing her become seemingly less important. When you forget that she existed or the reality of the hard battle she fought, it just makes her death sting that much more.
I have had people forget that I ever had a daughter. And others who just assume that because they have moved on, I have too. I haven’t! And I never will.
I will never forget what it felt like to hold Olivia in my arms. Or what I experienced with her. I will never forget the countless times I had to watch helplessly as she had seizures, as she was put to sleep for yet another MRI or surgery, when I rubbed her back as she threw up from chemo, rocked her as she suffered through another night with little sleep, and encouraged her as she tried with all her might to still be able to be a normal kid despite all her disabilities caused by the cancer. And most of all I will never forget the moment she died in the arms of her mommy and daddy and we were forever without our only daughter. And our boys were forever without their sister.
So please, I beg you, don’t forget! Remember Olivia and remember the significance of her life and her battle. Please don’t forget the countless other children and families that are still dealing with the brain cancer monster and its aftermath. And please don’t just read this post and feel empathy, but do nothing. Help us in our fight to find a cure! Help us to save other children from meeting the same fate. You can choose to join us and save other parents from having to make this same plea to remember their children.
Olivia Caldwel Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric brain cancer research. You can learn more and donate by visiting www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org or you can donate as a part of our Go Gray for May campaign by clicking here.