Logan is an athlete, great student and cancer survivor. She was also one of Naya's best friends. Here's her story.Read More
The RiderGirl blog is dedicated to children with cancer.
Life passes by too fast. Multitasking, electronics, media, double-booked meetings, tasks and activities all make it fly by. I'm choosing to be fully present. It simply makes my life richer and better. And, being present actually speed some things up.
A recent vacation forced me to step back and face my changed life head on. Being in Vail wasn't easy without Naya,but I needed to do it, and I didn't know why. I think it's becoming more clear.
I made space for myself to grieve, and realized I've only just started to feel the immenseness of my loss. I continue to imagine myself with Naya, holding her in my arms, laughing with her, and loving her as only a mother can. I want her to feel my love from wherever she is, and I want to feel her love through my grief.
I've made more space for my husband, and am helping him as he gets back to being the bigger than life person he has always been. I SEE Zak as a young man with great humor, world opinions, quirks, empathy, maturity and deep intelligence. I've made time for great friends, and had meaningful conversations with colleagues and new acquaintances. I'm fully engaged at work, and bringing my whole self to the game.
I've found more and more that people are giving, selfless and caring. From a lending a shoulder to cry on and ear to listen, to donating, honoring Naya through bake sales, helping us get her foundation off the ground and more. And, there are people who suck your time, stress you out and aren't in the first camp. My trick is to make sure the time suckers don't cause me to lose perspective or be negative. It takes practice and reflection every day, but it can be done. And, you will be happier.
We hope you're happy and smiling down on us. I imagine you with Grandma Taru, Grandma Betty, and Grandpa Bhupen all the time. I know they are taking good care of you. I hope you're enjoying Rekha. I feel you at times watching over me and smiling. Thank you babe.
This has been a busy month. I didn't have much time to just be with you. No matter how busy, I was determined to keep your cause moving forward. But I'm sure you knew that. I was at AIS this week. I love that school, but I shouldn't be the one going there, it should be you. A lot is happening there in your honor. They are going to create an award for the 6th grade which represents what you stood for, which was so much. They are also creating a space on the playground dedicated to you and PJ. Also, two Agnes Irwin girls pledged over $5,000 that they raised for your cause through their Hives for Lives club. Dad and I are creating a scholarship in your name to help a young AIS woman in her junior and senior year stay at AIS through graduation. Your classmates are also going to help us with the Parkway Run. None of this brings you back to us, but it all ensures your dream to cure pediatric cancer will be carried out and you will always impact the lives of girls at AIS.
We met Dr. Fisher and talked to CHOP too. In the last year, you raised over $200,000. Just this past week, we gave $50,000 of that money to genetically sequence medulloblastoma tumors of other children. Your tumor was sequenced, but it turns out that there's no ongoing funding to do that, so your money is going to help those kids get closer to a cure.
This month, TheNayaFoundation will be officially launched. I have many ideas that were yours, and everyone wants to help. We won't stop until there is a cure for your disease. I promise you that.
Yesterday, we took Zak and his friends downtown to the Villanova game. You would have been so annoyed with 4 teenage boys. Dad and I laughed thinking about what you would be saying about them, and how you'd be rolling your eyes. I passed the Kimmel Center and thought about the time you read your poem on stage for Dream Flags. You weren't nervous at all. I was so proud of you. And, I passed Citizens Bank Park and remembered when you walked with me for the American Heart Association and TE team. You did so much in your lifetime Naya, all the way until you had to leave our earth. More than most people will ever do.
Our heart breaks for you constantly. I imagine holding you and giving you kisses every day, and we hear you laughing and see your smile all the time. Valentine's day is coming up, and Zak's birthday. We're going to Vail. It's going to be a killer being there without you. Help me be strong Naya. Love you. Mom
The holidays are such a special time. For us, old traditions have to be changed unwillingly, and new ones are forming. Naya was very involved with choosing and decorating our tree. This year, she isn't here for either. So, I invited a friend to help me with the tree. Changing traditions isn't easy, but it's better than the alternative of yearning for something that can never be. Driving through towns, seeing the lights in NYC and going to malls in the Philly area, I notice so much more about Christmas. It truly is a holiday for children. That may be obvious to you, but for someone who wasn't raised in a traditional American home, it wasn't to me. The Thanksgiving parade, songs, trees, ornaments, lights, traditions and beautiful decorations are magical. No wonder kids love Christmas! I think parents love it because it's so magical to experience Christmas through their children. I miss the Santa wish list, the stories about each ornament going on the tree, Elf on the Shelf (although Zak will play along this year and humor me) and so much more. We will find new things and traditions that include Naya even without her physical presence.
Naya left us a couple of gifts this Christmas...
Her 6th grade classmates at Agnes Irwin had the idea to do a service project in Naya's honor. The girls collected 325 new books to donate to CHOP's Oncology floor. Thank you AIS. Naya would have been so proud of her beloved school and friends!
In the summer, Naya begged for a new puppy, and with Zak's added pressure, we decided to get one. She knew he was on his way and would be here in December. She named him Sam, and saw a picture of him soon after he was born. I'll never forget her smile when she saw that picture. We picked him up last night. I can hear her laughing as he runs around discovering the house, chews toes and plays with Gabby & Duke.
On other fronts, we're working on several things to honor her memory and mission including establishing her foundation that will focus on her life's missions: curing pediatric cancer, marine biology and supporting AIS. My hope is to launch in January, and start to gather your help as we carry on her mission.
Enjoy your holiday & spread the magic of the season. Laugh, smile & love.