November 2008

November 25th 2008 – Day 80. And Day 80 seems just as unreal as Day 1.  We have all been having a tougher time lately, I guess because the holidays are getting closer. It seems so hard to accept that Jacquie will not be here to fulfill our plans and the dreams we made last Thanksgiving. We had already decided how we would celebrate this year. We were all going to go to the Hunter’s Hope Ball again, as we had done for the past 4 years. Jacquie and I were even planning to go down to Saratoga Springs for our gowns. We have some truly wonderful friends there, (Jim and Denise), who we met through my brother David and his wife Elizabeth. Denise owns a very exclusive shop in Saratoga, where she sells beautiful gowns, some from Paris. When they were up at Roswell the day before Jacquie’s transplant, to help her prepare for it, we talked about what fun it would be to indulge ourselves and buy 2 very incredible dresses for the ball. Jax was so excited about going there to shop. Now, all I can do is dream about how beautiful she would look in anything she wore. She also was looking forward to going to “The World’s Biggest Disco” with her dad again, as they had done before. She loved dressing “disco” and laughing at the idea that for a period of time, we all dressed like that for real. And Thanksgiving dinner. How Jacquie would look forward to all the great foods and treats. She really did appreciate the Thanksgiving table, but more than that, she loved being able to be with family and friends. She was looking forward to seeing all her friends who would be able to come home for a few days, and catching up on their lives. She was looking forward to a couple days of being “normal”. And now, there will be no shopping trip, no Ball, no disco, no Thanksgiving meal with family and no catching up with friends. Just the empty place in our hearts. But I think Jacquie sent us all a message.  Did anyone notice that Macy’s has borrowed our “Believe” slogan this holiday season? It’s been on the TV and in their newspaper ads. I hope they know that Jacquie “Believed” before they even thought about believing, and we will all keep “Believing” long after they have moved on to some other slogan. And please, if you can, visit a we site  My mom gave me the most wonderful Christmas poem and because of copyright laws, we are not able to send it over the internet. But it is something I think you would all like to read, I like to believe that Jacquie sent it to us. “A daughter needs a mom to carry her when she is tired.” Jacquie, I would have carried you until the day I died. No matter how tired, or sick or discouraged you were, I would have tried to carry you through it all, emotionally and physically. There is nothing I would not have done for you. There is nothing dad or TJ wouldn’t have done for you. And your family and friends, they too, would have done everything they could to help carry some of the burden. And Jacquie, I hope you know, you were never carrying your burden alone. And all those hundreds of people who were with you then, are still with you now.  And now they are also helping to carry dad, TJ and I. We thank you for bringing such wonderful and dear friends into our lives to help us through this. You gave us the gift of your friends and your friendships and we are so grateful to you. We all miss you so very badly, and we are trying so hard, but it is not easy to be here without you. My necklace with your fingerprint engrave on it is close to my heart always, and when I touch it I feel you and try to get strength from you. Please don’t leave me here alone. My Darling Daughter Jacqueline Elisabeth, I will love you forever and always, Love, mom


November 21st 2008 – One year ago today, we were back at Roswell, Jacquie had been admitted for a temp of 103.4. This was our second time since her diagnosis that fever had struck, and I was terrified, again. We knew how serious fevers were because they signaled an infection somewhere in the body, and with a depleted immune system due to chemo, Jax was at risk for more serious complications. The same protocol went into action as with the first re-admission, so we were somewhat prepared for what was going to be done. I tried to keep Jax reassured that this was considered “not un-expected” (the doctor’s words), and that just like the last time, they would find the source of the infection, load up on the antibiotics, and we’d be home before she knew it. But this time was more important to be home quickly, Jacquie’s benefit was to be held in 3 days, and she very desprately wanted to be there. Jax let all the nurses and doctors know that she expected to be out by Sat., and she did everything she could to make it happen, as did the staff. And in True form for Jacquie- she was discharged just about the time the benefit was scheduled to start. She was excited, but very nervous. Jacquie couldn’t wait to see her friends, she wanted to be “normal” for just a couple of hours. She had me bring her home first, so she could pick out just the right outfit to wear, and get her wig, because she wasn’t ready to have people see her bald head yet. I told her she had the most perfectly shaped bald head and she was as beautiful without hair as she was with hair. Her response was her “normal” Jacquie one -“You’re just saying that because you’re my mom and moms always tell their kids what they want to hear.” And then we laughed. I told her I loved her no matter what changes she was going through and she should always know that she was the most beautiful girl in the world to me, because her beauty came from inside her, and that is what we would all see when we looked at her. I worried the whole time we were at the benefit that she would become overtired, sick, or upset, but Jax did great. Her family had “guard duty” to make sure nobody got too close or tried to hug and kiss her.  As much as Jax would have loved to be hugged and kissed, even with a mask on, she couldn’t risk it. The day was a happy one for Jacquie, and the pictures we have show how overwhelmed she was by the huge number of people who helped out, and those who came to show their support. She kept saying “I can’t believe how many people are here for me.” Well Jacquie, those people are still here for you, and they are still fighting for you. “A daughter needs a mom to teach her that you cannot make someone love you, but you can be someone who can be loved.” There are very few people who will ever know the love that you have known. In the past 14 months, the number of people who have shown their love for you has been simply incredible, family, friends, and friends not yet met, have demonstrated over and over how much they love you. That you, at only 23 years old, have such love given to you, and makes me believe that you were an Angel, before you even left us. And hopefully, the love everyone has shown for you, is also being passed along to others. There are few things in this world that are worth so much but cost nothing to give to others, love is one of these. Jacquie gave so much love to this world, let’s all try to do the same. Please say a prayer for Becky Roselli’s friend who is fighting for his life against cancer, and he too needs to prepare for a transplant. Also, please say a prayer for Matthew Row, who died in an industrial accident last weekend, leaving behind a wife and 2 very young children.
To my Jacquie, please remember that we miss you, and I still need you very,very, much. I’m still trying to find a way to get through each day without giving up. I move forward for you, because I know you would settle for nothing less. But please know, there are days that I want to be with you again. I love you my darling daughter and I will love you forever and always, Love mom


November 18th 2008 – “A daughter needs a mom to show her the comfort of a warm embrace.” Early this morning I woke up, it was still dark out. I had not slept well during the night and I thought I might read for a while. And then, as usual, I started thinking of Jacquie, and as usual, the tears fell. But then, suddenly, I felt warm, and as though I didn’t need to be crying, because Jacquie was with me, and giving me a hug. I haven’t ever felt that way before and it was kind of a scary feeling, but oh, so very welcome and needed. So many times while Jax was sick, she would say to me “mom, will you kiss my head” or “mom, will you give me a hug,” and I realized how comforting that was to her, so she must have been trying to comfort me this morning. I hope that she knows how much I really really need to still feel her presence.. When I hug her “Jacquie Bear” I can still feel Jax holding the bear and me hugging them both. I can still see Jax holding the bear every night when she went to bed. And even though I sleep with her bear every night, last night was the first time they both hugged me back. I wish I could stay in bed forever and keep embracing them both. I know I can’t, there are things Jax would want me to do. If I knew how to get in touch with Lindsay’s mom, that would be one thing I would do for Jax. She would want me to send a card to tell her that Lindsay is with her now and they are both ok. And she would want me to give her a hug, even if only through the card. Jax, I would give anything in this world to have you hug me again. Please don’t leave me alone down here without you. I love you forever and always my daughter Jacquie. love mom


November 15th 2008 – The weather looks like my heart feels. I’m sure you are all getting tired of my counting, so I won’t. But it’s a Saturday, and I can’t escape what it means. Yesterday I was at Office Max, waiting my turn in line. I was there to have some flyers run off for Jacquie’s upcoming Vera Bradley party. And as I stood in line and re-read the flyer, I started to cry. Yes, again, the tears fell without my permission and I wondered to myself, when people look at me, (or Torey, or TJ, or any of us who are missing Jax) do they see our grief? Do they see that our lives have been forever changed, altered in a way that they can never be fixed back to the way they were? I wondered if people see the hole in my heart when they look at me, because when I look in the mirror, I see it. I see that I don’t look the same anymore, neither do Torey or TJ, or our family and friends. I see that a little light has gone out of our lives, and that place will always be dark. I know our lives won’t be dark, but the part of us that Jacquie filled will be. And then I started to look at the people in line with me. And I thought they all looked “normal”, as if there lives weren’t missing any light. But, I’m sure there were some there who were missing a light in their life. Was is possible that we can only see our own losses, or do our own losses blind us to what others around are suffering. Or, because we have no choice and we must “continue on living”, do we learn to present “normal” when we are expected to. I don’t know. I do know that these past 11 months have brought us many deaths, not just Jacquie’s. And although the others might not have left the hole that Jacquie’s death did for us, they still changed our lives to some extent. And now, we know what grief these other families have gone through, and are continuing to go through. When Jacquie’s little buddy from Roswell, Jamie, died, Jacquie was devastated. And one of her first thoughts was for her family and how it was affecting Jamie’s mom and dad and siblings. She wondered how they would ever get past the tragedy. She worried what she would say to them, and how she could help them. She wondered how they would act and look after losing a child. I had no answers at first, because I was busy praying and believing I would never have to find out those answers firsthand. Then I remembered- “A daughter needs a mom to listen closely to what troubles her.” So I tried to help her as best I could, to find some answers. As we talked, I wondered if Jax was also thinking about what would happen if she died and how we would handle it. I wondered if it was her way of helping me to prepare for the possibility that her transplant might not go the way we believed it would. Oddly enough, I can’t remember now, what I said to her. Whatever I said wouldn’t have the same meaning now. I do hope that at the time, it gave Jacquie some peace of mind and some hope. My Jacquie, everyday I miss you more, as I realize that you are not coming home to us. And I need for you to never ever forget how much we all love you and are doing our best to honor your memory and be better people. It will be very hard to go into The Perfect Gift without you next to me, and excited to find the next new Vera purchase.  But you will always be next to me, holding my hand and helping me through my days, I know you will because now I need you. I love you forever and always. mom


November 12th 2008 – Another day. The sun is out but it’s cold. I hope Jax is warm, she’s like me- we hate the cold weather because we never seem to be able to warm up enough. I’ve had a hard time these last few days, harder than usual. I think it is because of the death of the young woman from Orchard Park, who died at Geneso over the weekend. For those not familiar with the story, she was hit by a semi truck on a street in Geneseo, near the college. Her name is Lindsay Matthews, and she was 19 years old. The accident happened a week ago today, and she was in critical condition since then. When I heard about it, all I could think of was “Oh please, don’t take another young life away from her family”. I prayed so hard that she would survive, and I tried to “believe” in her and her strength to live. But, I guess that, just like Jax, her body had suffered too much hurt. And now, another family, more friends, schools, and a community, are left to deal with another loss and the question “why”. The news of her death made Jacquie’s death seem like it was happening all over again. When they showed the pictures from the accident scene, there, in the middle of the road, was what looked like a Vera Bradley bag. And I cried. I cried for Jacquie and all of us left behind, and I cried for Lindsay, her mom and dad, her family, friends and her friends “not yet met”. And I cried for her un-fulfilled dreams, wishes and hopes. And I cried for all the injustice of it all. The pictures of Lindsay show a beautiful young woman with smile that probably could light up a room. And interveiws with her coaches, principal, and others, told of an outgoing, caring, and energetic scholar-athlete, who should never have been taken from life so soon. She sounds like someone Jax would have loved to know and be friends with. I hope they are friends now. So, if everyone would please say a prayer for her family, because we all really do know what they are going through, and we know that there is nothing we can say or do to make the pain less for them. I wish I could help her mom, but I don’t know how to do that. If I could, I would just give her a hug and tell her I care and I’m so very, very sorry. To those of you who are “strangers”, people who we have never met, and have never met Jacquie, but you write on the guest book, please don’t ever apologize for doing so. Please don’t ever think you are intruding. Your messages let us know that Jax touched more than the lives of people she knew. Your messages tell us that her life made a difference to you, and although you were never blessed to know her, you learned something important about life from her. What an honor is it for us to know you would take the time to share you thoughts and feelings with us. Thank you.
“A daughter needs a mom who believes it is okay to see things differently.” Jax and I didn’t always agree on things, but oh how I loved listening to her present her case about an issue. When she was young, her views were usually based on what she and her friends thought and did. Being a “mom”, there was little I could do or say that was as important as what “the girls” thought or did. Then one day, I realized that Jax had changed. She was now thinking independently of her friends. She still cared about what they thought and how they react to different situations, But, she wasn’t afraid to be different, and she was confidnt in defending her beliefs. That was when she started to talk to me about what I thought and felt about what was going on in her life. She would actually ask for my advice or opinion, not that she would always take it, but she at least asked. What a wonderful feeling that was, to be included in so many parts of her life. I realized then, that I was blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my daughter, and that many moms don’t have that. I would always tell her thank you for sharing with me, and thank you not closing me out of your “grown-up” life. We would talk about so many different things and she would make me feel in awe of her sometimes, when I would listen to her as she spoke from her heart. I miss her. I miss our talks, I miss our discussions, I miss our differences of opinion, and I miss our finding middle ground on issues. I miss listening to her “grown-up” out look on life. I miss you, Jacquie. I will love you forever and always, mom

November 7th 2008 -Two months and one day. I couldn’t write yesterday. Somehow, all these “anniversaries” keep coming whether I want them to or not. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been two months, seems like forever. Yesterday, I told myself, well, you made it these past two months, you can keep doing it. Today, I’m back to wondering if I can keep doing it. Many of you write that you think I am strong and you talk about my courage. Well- I’m not strong and I don’t have any courage left. I am still afraid and scared and desperately missing Jacquie. I wish I could be what you think I am, but I can’t. I am disappointed in myself and I keep trying but each day ends the same way it started- with an empty hole in my heart. I try to remind myself that Jacquie is better now, and I want her to be. The way she suffered and struggled for life was a horrible thing to watch her go through. And as much as I miss her, I would never be selfish enough to want her to still be here “living” that way. But I am selfish enough to still be asking “why Jacquie”. And I’m hurting enough to wish that all of us “believing” would have made her better. So, the tears continue to fall. On the days when I’m able to read the guest book, some of the tears are good tears. I cry for those of you who loved her and miss her too. I cry for all the wonderful “Jacquie stories” you share with us, and I cry for the wonderful friends and family that are letting us know what Jacquie meant to them. I still have all Jacquie’s things packed, just as they were that awful night two months and one day ago, and in her closet. I keep wondering when I should unpack and go through her things. I know I will have to eventually, but for now, everything is ready, just as is always was in case we needed and emergency trip back to ‘Roswell. I think I don’t want to unpack it because then I’ll know that I won’t ever need it again. “A daughter needs a mom to help her interpret the language of boys.” I don’t know how much help I was to Jax in this area, at least some I hope. We talked about boys a lot and she shared many wonderful thoughts and special times with me about the boys and men in her life. I want them ALL to know that I am grateful to them for being such good friends. I think Jax was blessed to have had so many caring, considerate and fun guys to grow up with. So many of them continue to stay in touch with us and offer support, which is so very much appreciated. Torey and I feel that Jacquie must have been very special indeed, to have had such wonderful boys and men in her life. To the parents of these men, thank you for raising gentlemen for Jacquie to share her life with. You should be proud of your sons. To my Jacquie, I’m trying to do what you would want me to do and be the person you would want me to be, but some days it is so hard. Please be patient with me and try to understand that living without you is a never-ending pain that I can’t overcome right now. But for you, I will keep trying. I will love you Jacquie, forever and always, Love mom.


November 3rd 2008 –  Saturday November 1st- 8 weeks or 56 days, it doesn’t matter what time frame I use, it’s still the same. Months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, or seconds, the numbers remind me how long it has been. On Saturday, Section 6 Gymnastics honored Jacquie’s memory at their sectional meet at Lancaster High School. Each team nominated one of their gymnasts to be awarded the “Jacquie Hirsch “Tink” Award. click here to read what was written and read prior to the presentations. It was incredible, once again, to know that so many people remember her love for life and her spirit. Each time Jacquie is honored and kind words are spoken about her life and her fight for life, I hope that the people listening learn from her and try to live their lives being the best they can be. It is always a very emotional time when we are at these ceremonies and Jax is remembered, because I would wish for her to be there with us, hearing what is said, and seeing the respect and admiration people have for her and her fight against leukemia. I’m sure she is watching everything from heaven, but to have her next to me again- what I wouldn’t give for that to be possible. I was looking through cards this weekend, and came across one my mom sent to me when Jacquie was at Sloan Kettering for the first transplant. I thought it would be nice for all the moms and someday-to-be-moms to read and keep in their hearts. Thank you mom, for teaching me how to be the kind of mom Jacquie would need.
The love between a mother and a daughter, is a bond of the strongest kind.
It is a love of the present, interwoven with memories of the past and dreams of the future.
It is strengthened by overcoming obstacles and facing fears and challenges together.
It is having pride in each other and knowing that our love can withstand anything.
It is sacrifice and tears, laughter and hugs.
It is understanding, patience, and believing in each other.
It is wanting only the best for each other and wanting to help anytime there is a need.
It is respect, a hug, and unexpected kindness.
It is making time to be together and knowing just what to do and say.
It is and unconditional forever kind of love.
This, my Jacquie, is why a mom needs a daughter.  I love you Jacquie, forever and always, and I will still always be here for you. Love, mom