This past week a beautiful little girl who lives just 45 miles away died from brain cancer. Her death has affected me deeply. It has brought up so many emotions as I remember what the week we lost Olivia was like.
When your child is diagnosed with cancer you know the possibility of losing them is high. Especially in the case of an aggressive brain cancer. But you cling to the hope that somehow, some way your child will be a miracle. You pray that they will be the one to beat the odds and you wish with everything you have that it is all some crazy, elaborate nightmare.
For 16 months Olivia fought her cancer with all she had. And so did all of us that loved her. My life was all about her. She was my top priority and my every thought revolved around her well-being and happiness. And then just like that she was taken from me. After 20 months and 3 days of being her mommy on this earth, I had to watch my beautiful daughter’s lifeless body be carried out of our home for the last time. I had to stand over her during the viewing, brushing my hands through her hair, knowing that she was gone. All that remained was a shell.
During her funeral I sat in the front row watching the service unfold with everyone else, but it felt like I was floating out of my body. I kept thinking that this couldn’t possibly be real. How could I really be facing the rest of my life without my only daughter? The tears flowed down my cheeks quietly through most of the service, but at the end when I had to stand up and walk behind her casket, my quiet tears became full-fledged sobs. And that night as our family gathered at my parents house after the funeral I sat quietly in the corner. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. All I wanted was to hold her again.
It has been 3 years, 5 months and 7 days since Olivia took her last breath. And I have spent every day thinking about her since then. A mother’s tears for her lost child don’t stop when the funeral ends. That is only the beginning of the new life you never asked for.
The Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research in memory of Olivia Caldwell, who passed away from brain cancer in October 2013 at 20 months old. The foundation has given $155,000 to pediatric cancer research teams at Children’s Hospital Colorado and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute since then. You can learn more and donate by visiting www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.