Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Days that Change the World

Two accomplishments that I get to take credit for, though I can really only thank God for, are the opportunities to be a mother to Gabriel, Eden, and Delilah, and a big sister to Monica, Timothy, and Victoria.

I remember so clearly Victoria's first day of daycare. It coincided with my first day of my senior year of high school, and I cried when having to leave her with her new sitter, after having spent the entire summer looking after her myself.  Victoria was the first person to teach me, truly, about selfless love.  I only ever wanted to give her the world.

So, it's no surprise that this, the morning of her high school graduation, I have been teary and nostalgic for the days when she was just a little girl.  I have been recalling her first day of kindergarten, the day she transferred to Colonel Nichols halfway through her first grade year, her First Communion, and her graduation from junior high, which hardly feels like a year ago.  I remember her in my own milestone moments - The day I found Sean dead, when I came home still in shock and still regretful that I had missed Victoria's classroom Valentine's Day party, that little 7 year old girl wrapped her arms around me in a big hug and said, "I miss Sean."  I remember the day my cat Lily had kittens, on Victoria's third birthday, and upon seeing the first kitten for the first time Victoria saying "Lily has a mouse!"  I remember standing by her side as she held Delilah, her first goddaughter, to be baptized.  I remember her standing by my side on my wedding day.  I remember standing behind her, beaming with pride, as she delivered her closing arguments during this year's mock trial competition, for which I had the privilege of coaching her.  This day came all too quickly, but the years leading up to this day have been packed with memories.  What a gift, to have been this girl's big sister.

I suppose Victoria's graduation, as all graduations are for me now, is especially touching when I consider that in the blink of an eye, my girls will be graduating too.  And the sweet becomes bitter when I think about my only son, who will never graduate from high school - Something I knew several weeks before he was born.  Before he was born, the doctors told me Gabriel wouldn't live long, and though I hoped with trepidation, I never dreamed that my little boy would be the one to defy the odds and live ten days.  Those ten days have changed the world.

With a bittersweet, teary but happy joyful longing, I invite you to celebrate Gabriel's 5th Birthday by participating in this year's 10 Days to Change the World:

Day 1:  Friday, June 10 - For the first time since his birth, Gabriel's birthday will fall on a Friday, which was also the day he was born.  At 3:19 p.m. my sweet boy showed his face to this world.  I invite you to take a moment at 3:19 on June 10, 2016, to remember his birthday.  Share pictures of your clock and where you are on Facebook.

Day 2:  Saturday June 11 - The annual cupcake day.  When Gabriel made it to 24 hours, our family celebrated with cupcakes - While Gabriel and I slept.  This year, enjoy a cupcake to celebrate with us the day that Gabriel became one of the only 25% of anencephalic babies to live past 24 hours.

Day 3 - Sunday June 12 - Wristband Day!  This year I have awareness wristbands, the proceeds for which will be used to fund the next Magic Mullet Run fundraiser for Duke University's anencephaly study.  Contact me ASAP to get your wristbands for $3 each.  Children's size available.

Day 4 - Monday June 13 - Finally getting comfortable enough with my delicate little bundle, we took Gabriel's footprint on this day.  This year, find a way to leave your footprint in your community, your tattoo on your town.  

Day 5 - Tuesday June 14 - This year would be Gabriel's 5th birthday, and he would be starting kindergarten.  Last year we celebrated what would have been his pre-school years by asking people to donate to their local pre-schools or Head Start programs.  This year, I invite you to do the same.  As most schools will be out for summer break, consider presenting a teacher you know with a gift card for supplies for her classroom in the fall.

Day 6 - Wednesday June 15 - On this day we FINALLY introduced Gideon to Gabriel.  Give your own furbaby a hug on this day, and do something special for him/her/them.

Day 7 - Thursday June 16 - Bowling night!  My friends and I bowl on Thursday nights, and we have a great time.  Life is short, and busy, and bowling nights are our weekly opportunity to gather and nourish the friendships that have carried us each through some challenging times.  Take this day to spend some time with your friends, do something fun - Try bowling!

Day 8 - Friday June 17 - This year Marcos and I will be heading to the beach for this weekend.  Friday we'll be riding to Oxnard so I can appear at a hearing in the morning, then we'll be heading up the coast where later in the evening, we will meet some of our friends for a beach weekend.  Before they arrive, Marcos and I will have a chance to spend some time together, have lunch, walk on the beach.  Take this day to spend some one-on-one time with someone you love.

Day 9 - Saturday June 18 - Community clean up!  We will be on the coast, and looking for a local park or beach to clean.  I invite you to find a place in your community in need of a bit of clean up, and volunteer your time to help.

Day 10 - Sunday June 19 - Father's Day.  A bittersweet day the year that Gabriel was born - He was still with us, against all odds, but we did not know how much time we might still have.  And we didn't know that our time would be up the following day.  Honor your father today.  And honor your children.  Not a single day is promised to us, and every day is a gift.

Angelversary - Monday June 20 - As has become custom, I will be releasing balloons on this day.  Time and location to be announced if you wish to participate with me - If not, please try to release a balloon or lantern in memory of Gabriel Michael Gerard Cude, whose brief life of 10 days is still changing the world.

I look forward, as I do every year, to sharing these days with my family and friends.

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