If I had to answer over again, I would say, I became forever connected to every other mother on the planet.
I imagine you feel the same way.
Since I first wrote about Florence more than two years ago, I’ve been awed by how many of you have quietly followed her story. How many have sent wishes and thoughts and prayers for a little girl you never met; a family you don’t know. How many of you have reached out through words or notes of kindness, have emailed, have left comments on their Facebook page, have posted yourselves, have donated money, have hoped against all hope for the transplant to work, the stem cells to grow, the evil unnamed disease inside her to disappear into nothingness.
It seems implausible that strangers on the internet do this for strangers. But they do. We see it time and again.
It’s because we are not strangers. We are mothers. And another mother’s pain is our pain. Another mother’s loss is our loss.
I’m sad to say that Florence died last night. She was six years old.
Her mother, my sister-in-law and I were all pregnant at the same time, the spring of 2005.
It wasn’t supposed to go like this.
It’s never supposed to go like this for a child.
In the most unbelievably exquisite, haunting, heartwrenching post you have ever read, the words of a father faced with the impending loss of his daughter, Will quoted his wife: “We have only borrowed Florence.”
I wonder if I would be as strong as they have been over the past several years, watching her fight.
I wonder if I could be as eloquent and thoughtful.
Clearly I’m not a religious person. But I do believe that when you put good into the world, it comes back to you. And I staunchly believe that your prayers and wishes and good thoughts and white light did not go to waste. They helped Florence’s family through so many months of pain and hospitals and disappointment, one day at a time. Her parents and grandparents have thanked me for all the kindness from my friends and readers, even if they couldn’t thank you each individually.
You did good. Even if you could not save Florence.
I hugged my girls a long time last night. So long that they got uncomfortable and squirmy. That hardly seemed long enough.
For those of you have been so kind to ask, yes, there is a Memorial Fund in honor of Florence for Duke’s Pediatric Bone Marrow Unit’s Family Support Unit. Info at this link.