My Jessie Journal:: Hi Sweet Pea, it’s daddy=). I love you so much and so very proud of you. Last week was full of so many emotions but I felt you with me the entire time. Thank you! As you know, one of our local courageous kiddos joined you last week. Please make sure you help him get settled into his room and meets lots of friends. He fought so hard for over three years but, like you, God needed him in Heaven sooner than anyone else wanted. His parents have asked me to officiate his celebration of life service, which I’m honored to do. While these special services are never easy, this one will be a little different as I will be in the same room and in the same spot I stood when I did your service. I know you will be with me!!!
My cold continued to get worse leading up to the gala last Saturday. Thankfully this amazing mom and son brought me some of their “healing soup”…it tasted so good! I wish I could cook like that…so yummy.
Last Friday as we were leaving the office to head home and get ready for the gala on Saturday, Shaya called us and told us Ripley was shaking in the garage and couldn’t get up. As you know, our sweet lab that lived 14 and half years is now with you. So thankfully Aunt Kimmy was here to help mommy. His play mate for all of those years, Roxy, is still looking around for him. They were best buddies. Due to the gala being the next day, we had to press on and didn’t really get a chance to grieve Ripley until Sunday. We will miss him so much.
The team and hundreds of volunteers pressed on through all of the emotional stress of the week and put on our best gala ever. Over 750 people attended the event and raised a lot of money to help us spread hope, joy and love to more kids and families. We gave out special Jessie Awards and two of them went to people you know…Melinda Heights Elementary School for seven years of JoyDrives. They have collected thousands of toys for JoyJars. So amazing!!! I love this picture of us together when you were at Melinda Heights.
We then presented the Caregiver of the Year to that wonderful caring man who took your blood each week. You called him your personal vampire=). Jamie was so appreciative and from the podium simply said…Love you Jessie!!! We all cried…it was a very special moment.
Mommy, Shaya and JT did such an amazing job sharing about you, your foundation and the impact you have forever made on their lives. I know you are so proud of them. I sure am. They have taken the greatest tragedy in their lives and turned it around for good. They are so honored to be your forever mamma, big sis and little bro. I have to say, JT isn’t little anymore…he is almost 17 and will soon be the tallest in the house…LOL.
We had over 46 Courageous Families in attendance and they all got their own Jessie award too. They are our true inspiration and are so strong and brave. During dinner, I talked with many people and heard lots of comments about how YOU not only were…YOU still are…an inspiration to so many. One guy even asked if he could meet with me to talk about a movie. While that would be cool…not sure it’s a reality due to costs, etc. We will pray and we will wait.
The gala ended with a courageous family sharing about the impact you and the foundation has had on them. Their sweet boy Hollis, who is also with you, loved getting your JoyJars. He even took one of his JoyJars to Germany with him during treatment. They shared about your motto NEGU and what it meant for them when they were with Hollis and what it means to them now. They are a very special family and I’m honored to call Hollis’ daddy…FRIEND! While we are two grieving fathers, my life is better because of him and his encouragement to me. #MostBestDays
Jess, I’m forever grateful and thankful you left us with something to do…Help kids fighting cancer NEGU! While fundraising is so hard and hearing “no” stings…seeing kids smile, super sibs feel encouraged and parents feel loved…is so worth it. Thank you so much!
Now that the gala is over and my cold is gone…it’s time to get ready for your 20th Birthday Celebration Weekend…yeah!!! This year we will stuff 2,000 JoyJars over 20 hours with a lot of volunteers. I can’t believe you will be 20 years old in just a few days…April 8th. I wish I could see you now…your smile, your eyes, your tan skin…your beauty!!! Dang it…I tried so hard not to cry today and there it went. I miss you so much Jess.