You ever go along your merry way in life, doing what you always do, working, taking care of the kids, just slogging along in your boring existence, blah, blah, blah… and then something happens and you realize how LUCKY you are? Ever have a time when you see something or you read something or you meet someone with a story that touches you deep inside your heart? Someone that makes you want to DO SOMETHING. That happened to me.
Her name is Anita. She lives in Canada. I don’t know her, I’ve never met her, but I want to. She is young and beautiful. She is brave and she inspires me. She is a mother with 3 beautiful children. She makes me appreciate my life a little more. Her story makes me want to take my daughter into my arms and never let her go. Never. She has cancer. She is fighting for her life.
I read a very brief story about her winning a contest where the prize was scrapbooking supplies. Her friend Becky had entered her in the contest at Scrapbook & Cards Today magazine, a Canadian magazine I read online and love. Becky said in her entry that Anita was fighting breast cancer that had spread and with chemotherapy treatments and 3 kids she had no time to scrapbook, but her 3 year old daughter had no scrapbooks done about her and Becky thought if Anita won the prize it might motivate her to get busy making her little girl a scrapbook. When I read that, it spoke to me. It touched me.
I couldn’t stop thinking about this woman somewhere in Canada who is younger than me with 3 kids and breast cancer. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like to live with this THING inside me every day and wonder if it was going to take me away from my daughter. I literally couldn’t sleep because of it. Part of it I think is because 17 years ago a close friend of mine died unexpectedly and suddenly and she left behind a 3-year-old daughter. For a while she used to carry around this photo of her mommy around the house with her and talk about her. And then………she stopped remembering. Her daddy got a new girlfriend and moved in with her and her kids, and my friend’s little girl just simply didn’t remember her mother anymore. It broke my heart. It became awkward after a while and eventually I lost touch with the little girl. I wasn’t a scrapbooker then, or you better believe I would have made her a scrapbook all about her momma and how much she loved her. But I wasn’t and I didn’t and life goes on and that’s just the way it is.
And then I read about Anita. And I couldn’t stop thinking about how she was fighting for her life and she had this 3-year-old little girl who would have no scrapbooks of her mother if she loses this fight with cancer. And it just bothered me. I felt like I had to do something. So I emailed the editor of the magazine and I asked her to get me in touch with the woman, to supply my email to her to protect her confidentiality or whatever, to tell her that I was touched by her story and I wanted to help her by making a scrapbook for her youngest daughter.
The editor contacted the friend who had entered her in the contest and about a month later I got an email from her. She provided me with Anita’s email address, and I began corresponding with her. She was so excited that someone she doesn’t know would want to help her. And it’s not just me. I can’t take all the credit really. I asked several friends who belong to a yahoo scrapbooking group with me for their help. And they came through for me. Jill and Edie in California, Klo and Erm in Nebraska, Thea in Illinois, Katie in New York, Dona in Texas. Anita sent me several hundred photos and I divided them up and sent them across the country to 5 different states to my friends, who are busily making scrapbook pages with them right now. I can’t even tell you how good this makes me feel. The suspense is driving me crazy. I can’t wait to get them all finished and put them in an album and mail that sucker off to Canada. I wish I could deliver it in person so I could meet Anita and her family and see the look on her face personally when she receives her book.
Life is good, and it’s nice to be reminded of that once in a while, and I hope that my actions will help to make her life just a little bit better. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go hug my daughter.
**edited to add** My scrapping buddies have been working hard on their pages for Anita and Amber. Here are links to other blog posts I have written where I have shown off their handiwork. Go check them out and let me know what you think!
**edited to add AGAIN** My little story here made it into the February 2009 issue of Creating Keepsakes Magazine! I could not be more excited people! I haven’t actually seen it yet as I write this because I subscribe by mail and apparently the stores get it before the subscribers. What’s up with THAT? But I’ve heard about it. haha Go check me and my friends out!
**another update 2/6/09! I’m actually fundraising right now to try and deliver this book in person. I just feel so strongly about it, I want to put this book into Anita’s hands myself. My God, what if UPS LOST it? Oh, the horror! This project has been and Anita has been a part of my life for the last many months and I want to be there to see her face and hug her and lay this book in her hands. It’s been such a labor of love for me, and I am so proud of it and so proud to have friends who have helped me so much with it. I am a lucky girl. I wrote a blog post about my plan to fund raise and I’ve been receiving donations from scrapbook companies and scrapbookers and have been blogging about those also. You can read the first post here and then all the others are after that. Long story short, there will be auctions in February and March of supplies that have been donated to me, books, classes, COOL stuff! So go check out the January archives and read all about it and bid on some stuff to help me get to Anita, ok?
It’s hard to believe that this actually HAPPENED, but I made the journey from Illinois to Canada with one of my best friends and my daughter. This whole experience has literally changed my life. You can read each day of my trip by clicking on the links below if you want.
**Edited to add: Update 2/5/2010
As I write this, it is Friday, February 5, 2010.
Anita left this world today at 10 a.m. I received an e-mail from her friend Becky, who is the reason I met Anita in the first place. I am beyond shocked.
I am in a state of disbelief.
I can’t stop crying. Mostly because I just finished the little mini scrapbook for her children that I showed here about a week or so ago and it’s still sitting in the box on my desk waiting to be mailed. The title “Remember” that I chose for the cover really strikes a chord with me now. I thought of her for days while I made that little book. Along with the journal that I made last October for Anita to write in. Sitting here in the box. There’s a card in the box that I wrote to Anita and a worry stone that I had bought her a long time ago. And the 2-page layout made by Mandy Douglass from the Creating Keepsakes magazine article about us in February of last year. I always felt that she should have it instead of me, so it was in the box also. I regret that I never sent it.
Meeting her was a huge experience in my life, and so many people who read this blog (and who don’t) helped me to make the trip to Canada and make my dream to meet Anita and deliver her scrapbooks that we made for her a reality. I have always been so grateful for each one of you, but now even more so. You will never ever know what it meant to me, to see all of you strangers to me (and some not) come together and donate your money and bid on my auctions so that I could make the trip happen. Making those scrapbooks for Anita and making that trip and meeting her in person and corresponding with her via e-mail and phone before and after that trip…..the whole experience……is something that changed me as a person inside. It’s impossible to explain. I will never ever forget all of you doing that.
I will never forget HER. I didn’t know her well, but I am so saddened by the loss of her, I can’t even tell you. There are no words.
Anita, you will always be a part of my story.Filed under Life, Scrapbooking | Comment (0)