July 31st 2009 - One week ago today, we were celebrating your life through memories at your Tinker-Ball. One year ago today, we were celebrating your newest "birthday". One year ago today, you recieved your second transplant, your second chance at life, your second chance to fulfill your hopes and dreams. We all were filled with hope and we were so grateful that you had been able to be in remission, without a fever or infection, and that you were strong enough to once again put your body through hell. We knew gong into it that it woud be rough. You still were recovering from the first transplant, your body was still beaten and battered. But your spirit was stronger than ever, and your belief in your ability to fight through whatever was to come, was incredible. We were in awe of your determination and your ability to stay positive. You never wavered in your belief that you would make it through this second transplant, and be healthy once again. We all believed it too. We believed, as you did, that when 2009 came, you would be celebrating 3 birthdays. Then why aren't you here? Why are your birthday presents for your "birthday number 3" still in my hope chest? Why were there no strawberry cupcakes with strawberry fosting for you to eat? Why do I know that for the past 329 days, the world has been missing someone very, very special? And why do I feel as though life will always be this way? Why? Why is it so hard for me to want to see your friends or talk to them? Is it because I can't stand knowing that you will not be joining them, that you will not be doing all the things that they are? Is it because they remind me of all you shared with them, and there will never be any new memories? Or maybe it is because I am jealous of your friends parents, who still have them to hold and hug. Whatever the reason, as much as I enjoy seeing them, it hurts. A lot. You belong here with them, with all of us. You should be eating strawberry cupcakes with strawberry frosting. Please say a prayer for all our friends who are still fighting for their lives, that they may continue to stay determined and strong, and not give up. There is always hope, and we must continue to believe that a cure will be found. Please say a prayer for Danny and Renee, too. "A daughter needs a mom to show her what is truly important in life." My Jacquie, you knew what was important in life. You taught all of us what you knew and now we are trying to teach others. I hope you are proud of us, and I hope you will continue to teach us important things that we need to learn, and help us to be the people you believe we can be. It is so hard Jacquie, to keep going, day after day, without you. I just want you back, here where you belong. That will never change, and I will never stop wishing to be with you. My darling daughter Jacquie, I will love you forever and ever and always, and longer than thatlove your mom
July 26th 2009 - Well My Jacquie, we did it. Your Inaugural Tinker Ball was a success. It was all it could be, and more. It was almost perfecct. It was missing you. The room was beautiful. Aunt Sheryl, Bree and the girls made the ballroom look like a dream. The flowers, the balloons, and all the extra touches made the room perfect for you. TJ selected the menu, and what a fine job he did! With Sue's help,all your most favorite things to eat were served to your guests, and I am willing to bet that no one walked away hungry. Dinner was delicious. Robyn's cupcakes and cookies were fit for a Tinkerbell, and they were delicious too. The program is beautiful, Aunt Christine, Mindi and TJ made sure it would be a lasting tribute for your guests to take with them. The baskets and silent auction items were great and Aunt Val, Uncle Bob, Larry, dad, and all their helpers made sure that there were a wonderful assortment of items for everyone to choose from. Jim did a spectacular job, the publicity before, during and after was so great. TV, radio and newspaper covered your Ball and Jacquie Walker and Lisa Flynn were wonderful speakers. Dr. Wang and Dr. Nowak also spoke and it was so nice to have them with us to share your night. I hope they enjoyed being there. Joe Mesi was our emcee for the terrific slide show your cousin Danielle put together- it made us laugh and it made us cry, but mostly it made us all so very proud of you. He also introduces Michelle's dancers, who once again honored your memory by dedicating and performing a dance to "Jacquie's Song". I hope you watched them move, and if you did, I am sure you were moving with them. Uncle Mark and Uncle David workd very hard too, bringing us 5 corporate sponsors- not bad for our first Ball, right Jax? I hope you saw our hostesses. The young ladies from the gym were all dressesd up in their gowns and fancy hair styles, and manicures just for you. They came to help us because, like everyone else there, you have touched their lives and they wanted a chance to show you how much you mean to them. Did you like the favors from Aunt Val and Sara? I know you are glad we decided to share your angel with everyone. That little angel gave us so much strength and courage when we needed it, and it still does. There are so many people who I haven't even mentioned, who put many hours of hard work into making sure that you would be proud of your Tinker Ball. In the end, the ones who made it truly the success it was, was your family and friends who came to support the event. Without people to come and eat, take part in the fundraising, dance and share their wonderful memories of you with each other, there would be no Tinker Ball. Everyone looked so elegant- the tuxedos, suits, and gowns were for you. The manicures, pedicures, and hair appointments were for you. The donations to The Jacquie Hirsch For A.L.L. Foundation were for you. And the laughter and the tears were for you. As I looked around the room, my heart swelled with pride as my eyes filled with tears, many many times throughout the evening. Jacquie, my darling daughter, do you even realize how many people love you? Do you know how many people miss you and still grieve for you? Do you know how many people have a piece of their hearts missing since you left? Joe Mesi said something during his speech that was so prfound, it left us momentarily speechless. He said he has never missed anyone, he never knew, so much. Jacquie, since he made that statement, so many others have said that that is how they feel. People who have never been blessed to meet you, still miss you so much because of what they know about you- who you are, what you accomplished, what your hopes and dreams were and of course, your smile. I can't write anymore right now, my Jacquie. Tonight the pain is deep, as it has been since Friday night. I will love you forever and ever and always, my darling, and I will loe you longer than that. With love from all my heart, mom. Tommy, Happy Birthday tomorrow
July 24th 2009 - 321 days. Still, forever. My darling daughter, Jacqueline Elisabeth, today is your big day. Today is your Tinker Ball. And the only thing I can seem to think about is "Why aren't you here to share it with us"? I know you are watching us, and I hope you are so proud of what your family and friends have done, once again, to honor you and your life. What an amazing person you are, to have such an enormous amount of people who want to be part of the celebration of your life. So many have worked very hard to make this happen. So many showed up last night to help us set it all up, our gratitude to all them cannot be put into words. How will we ever possibly find a way to thank everybody? And Jacquie, how will I get ready for this without you, my "dresser". Jacquie, you always put me together the "right" way before I went anywhere special, for instance, the Hunter's Hope Ball. You checked my outfit, my hair, my nails, and my shoes. You put make-up on me, because I am so bad at it, without you I wouldn't have worn any! You made sure I wouldn't embarass myself, now what will I do without you? I need you here to help me, and laugh with me as we get ready together. I need you to share our jewelry and purses. I need you to stand next to me in front of the mirror when we are done and say "OK, we're ready, we look so good, let's go"! I miss our special times together and making those wonderful memories with you. I miss you, my Jacquie. Aunt Sheryl sent us four of the most beautiful lavender colored roses I have ever seen in my life. And with the roses came her card, and it said, very simply, "Forever Four' Love, Aunt Sheryl. Jacquie, that is the way is will be forever and ever, we will always be four, we will NEVER be three. I know you will be there tonight with us. If you can let me know- brush my arm with your angel wings or kiss my cheek. Let me know You will be there to help us all through your night that must be held without you. I will love you forever and ever and always, and longer than that my Jacquie. Love mom
July 19th 2009 - It seems that with each passing day, it becomes more and more difficult to think about what could have been. These days are getting a little bit easier, but by no means any better. Each day there is always a constant reminder of a beautiful smile that we won't see, a joke without laughter or a memory that wont be made, and sometimes its almost unbelievable to think that this isn't just a bad dream....its a reality. And Jacquie won't be coming back. But after a few minutes once the truth does set in and the tears stop flowing, its back to the real life, and back to "How would Jax spend today?" or "Would Jax be okay with this?" Most of the time that is enough to get back on track, keep everyone going, moving forward, and living as Jacquie would live. Thats why its so important for us to do things that Jacquie would do, and do things she would want us to in order to try and heal. Rascal Flatts was last week Saturday and it was very difficult to go. The last time we were there was 2 summers ago, before Jacquie got sick and we had the time of our lives! But this time was different. Although something was missing, there was something special. Something special about how the sky cleared up and the rain stopped as soon as the concert began. Something special about how the band read Jacquie's story and wanted to meet us backstage. It was almost like Jacquie was there, and she was smiling, and was okay. Maybe just a small coincidence but for us, things like that are all we have now, all we have to hold on to, and all we have to look forward to. Things like Foundation events and planning and telling strangers about how brave and strong Jacquie was and finding ways to try and make a difference, all things that she would do, would have done, and would have wanted us to do. Thats our band-aid, our way of trying to fix the hole in our hearts where Jacquie was, and our way of trying to make things right from now on. Any excuse we have to make Jacquie proud and make a difference is one we glady take in a heartbeat. And with the Tinker-Ball coming up fast, all the months of hard and effort and perfection that has been going into making The Life & Legacy of Jacqueline E. Hirsch the best it can be, will surely pay off and make Jacquie proud. Proud to know that she has a lasting impact, proud to know that she made a difference in her too short 23 years, and most of all proud to know that she will forever be on our minds and in our hearts. We miss you Jax. Love Always, Your Big Brother.
July 14th 2009 - Day 311. I continue to have trouble writing to all of you. I can't seem to find the right words to say on paper. I know it must be hard for you to always be reading about how sad I am. Many of you probably don't even want to bother reading anymore. I am sorry for that. I do have "good" times in my days, I don't cry all the time, but I have to be at the gym so much now, and I feel as though that isn't the place where I can be me and let my feelings show. But it makes me tired all the time, and very cranky to be away from Jacquie for such long periods of time. I think all 3 of us are feeling as though our time to grieve has been cut short and now we don't know what to do. The other very difficult part of our lives now, is dealing with the deaths of others we became friends with while Jacquie was sick, or with new friends we have met through her foundation. It seems to be almost a weekly thing, that we hear about a death from, or a new diagnosis of, cancer or leukemia. And then the pain takes over again. Yesterday should have been Anthony's 22nd birthday, instead his mom and his family and friends were left to wonder "Why"? Just as we did, we questioned why our child was not here to celebrate the next birthday. And we wondered what parent would be next to begin the counting of "Day...". Most days now, I wake up and start to count the hours and minutes until I can go back to bed. When I talk to Jacquie, I ask her to help me, but she can't because she is not here, and no amount of wishing, hoping, dreaming or believing is ever going to change that. And still, I ask. Everything is a memory and still those memories hurt. I don't want to do things that should have been done with Jacquie. I don't want to go places that we should be going with Jacquie. I don't want to eat her favorite foods because it hurts too much. Everything still hurts too much. I can't help but wonder how long this will continue. I know Jacquie told us that she is the one who got leukemia, because God must have felt she was the strongest of all of us to deal with it. Well, God was wrong. If that was true, it should have been me to die, because it is harder to be the one left behind. I am not strong enough to keep going without her, the emptiness is always there, her presence is always missed. I am tired of doing this. I know that Jacquie would never give up, and SHE didn't, she kept fighting. Her body couldn't take it anymore but Jacquie NEVER gave up. I wish I could be like Jacquie. For those of you who have texted me, or e-mailed, I am sorry I haven't gotten back to you. I will when I can, but for now, I just can't. "A daughter needs a mom to show her that enthusiasm for life is contagious". Jacquie, no one could ever doubt that your enthusiasm for life spread to each and every person who was blessed to enter your life and get to know you. This was not a life lesson you were taught by me, but a gift you were born with. Even now, people who never even met you, tell us how hearing about the way you lived your life has affected them and made them want to live their lives differently and more fully. You made life fun and gave it meaning. You showed us that we should enjoy each minute and treat our lives as gitfs given to us to share with others. You reminded us that we all need to love unconditionally. And you showed us that life is not forever. The gifts you gave us are priceless. They came from your heart to us and you never even knew how much it meant to us. Now, I hope you hear me when I talke to you and tell you these things, because you need to know them. I am so sorry Jacquie, I wish with all my heart and soul that I could have traded places with you. I wish I could have given my life for you. I wish I could see you again and hold you again. I will love you forever and ever and always, and longer than that, my Jacquie. I will always be your mom. Love, me
July 8th 2009 - Last night , when I got home from work at the gym, I wanted to write. I sat down at the computer, but nothing would come out. I could only cry. I thought if I read some of my e-mails that have been piling up, it might help. So, I started to read them, and I cried. Some of them were happy tears, but then I read one that made me so angry and sad. It came from a 27 year old girl with ALL. She is undergoing treatment at Roswell, and happened to see all our shirts at the Ride For Roswell. She went on Jacquie's web site to see what the story was behind the beautiful young girl whose picture was on the T-shirt. She said she read Jacquie's story. Then she talked a little about what she was going through, and it was as though I was reliving Jacquie's story all over again. The pain for what this young girl has been going through, and what is ahead for her, was so hard to bear. It made me so sad that one more life has to be affected by this terrible disease. One more life put on hold, dreams that will have to wait, wishes that will not come true as soon as they should. WHY? It made me angry that with all the money and research that is being poured into finding a cure, we still have to watch people we love suffer. It is a terrible feeling, to be so helpless and unable to make everything "normal" again. A year ago yesterday, Jacquie walked out of this house for the last time. I know that is why yesterday was so difficult, and today too. It was another one of those damn anniversaries that do not mean joy and happiness. She left here, believing she would be returning. We all did. She was healthy enough for the transplant to move forward, she was free of infection, and she was looking forward to being done with the transplant and having another "birthday" to celebrate. We told her that she must be really special becuase after the transplant, she would have 3 birthdays to celebrate every year, and yes, we told her she could have gifts on all of them. How could we have known. How could we have not known. How could we have been so wrong. And how she someone take her from us. Everyday, I STILL wake up and pray that this will be the day I wake up and find out I have been in some type of a coma all this time, and this all did not really happen. But, then I look around Jacquie's room, and my heart breaks, because I am awake and it did happen. My Jacquie will not be calling me, today or any other day. I will not be going with her to buy a yellow dress to match her yellow shoes she bought in NYC. I will not have her with me to go grocery shopping, or buy flowers for the garden she planned. She will not go to any more country concerts with her friends, and Torey, TJ and I. She will not get all excited when the new Vera Bradley catalog comes, with all the new styles and patterns, and she picks out which ones we should buy together and "share". And she will not sing with me in the car. Now, I sing to her, alone. To the young girl who wrote to me, I do not know your name, but I know you. I know you are strong, and courageous, and you are a fighter. So was my Jacquie, she was more courageous than anyone I have ever known. I know you will keep fighting until your battle is won, and you will not be fighting alone. You see, Jacquie has the most wonderful family and friends, who were there for her every step of the way while she was fighting. And, they are still fighting for her. They will fight for you too. These incredible people have been, and continue to be, at our side supporting Jacuie and her foundation and making sure that Jacquie's dream comes true. So they are fighting your fight with you, and they will do all they can to help you. If you need us, we are here for you. And, we will keep you in ur prayers. To my Wonderful, beautifu daughter- I miss you, I miss you so much and it hurts. I know you live in my heart, but I will always ask why you culdn't be here with us, where you belong. I'm glad you visit your friends in their dreams, please come to see me too. It is getting harder, not easier, as time goes on. I need to be with you. I will love you forever and ever and always, and longer than that. Love,your mom
July 3rd 2009 - Day 300. It has been very hard this week. Too much going on, too much to do, too little time to do it, and way too little time to spend with Jacquie. I have continued to go into the gym to try to help out, and at first I thought that would be a good thing. I would have to get up in the morning, and I would be getting out of the house to do something that I know Jacquie would want me to do- to help Torey and TJ at the gym school. But it is hard to go in every day, and be there without Jacquie. She is everywhere- in the children's eyes and their laughter. She is in our hearts and her spirit is everywhere we look. Her pride in being part of the gym school and making it the success it is, can be felt and seen. But she is not there, and it hurts so very much. I cannot help but be angry at the people who come into the office and have such petty complaints about things, things that are really so trivial in the scheme of life. Some people seem to find fault with everyone and everything and they seem to have no idea how really precious life is. If they would only stop for a moment, and ask themselves "Is this really that big a deal that I have to make an issue over it", or "Do I really need to waste time complaining over something so small". Can't they see that time lost cannot be gotten back. Can't they see that we have so little time here on earth, and that life can be taken away in a heartbeat. Why do they want to find ways to hurt other people's feelings. I know I see things differently now, I know that having Jacquie taken from us made me think about life in a new way. I don't ever wish this pain and suffering on anybody, but I do wish that people would be able to learn what we have without having to suffer the loss. I think of all the times when Jacquie was so sick and yet she still found a way to smile, not only for us, but for family, friends and even strangers. Why is it so hard for some people to give away a smile? I am so grateful everytime somebody tells us that one of the best things they remember about Jacquie is her smile, and th way it would light up a room. Wouldn't our world be such a wonderful place if everyone made an effort to give away more smiles than complaints. Think how great it would be to have a world filled with "Jacquie smiles". Imagine, having a bad day, and then having a perfect stranger smile at you for no reason at all, except because you look like you needed one. Just imagine. And now, just BELIEVE that if all of Jacquie's believers make an effort to give out more smiles, we could start something big. We could be part of making someone's day better. Maybe we could all try to do this. And maybe, those we give our smiles to will pass them along to others. We really need to try. "A daughter needs a mom to teach her that everyone deserves to be happy". Yes, we all do deserve to be happy, but we need to work at it. Life is hard, and life is unfair. And sometimes, it seems as though life is too much work to bother with. But when we are surrounded by family and friends who care, and support and love us, it is not so hard after all. And at the times in our life, when we think it is not worth working at being happy, or that maybe happiness will never be ours again, our family and friends are there to help us. We are so blessed that we have all of you in our lives. We still hear from you through cards, e-mails, letters, phone calls and texts. And each time we hear from someone, it brings back to us, some of the happiness we have lost. I don't know how long it will be until any of us feel "happy" again, but I do know that we are filled with happiness knowing that all of you shared in Jacquie's life, and gave her so much happiness. For that, we will be forever grateful, because Jacquie truly deserved to be happy. My Jacuqie- These days I am feeling so overwhelmed with all there is to do, and the little time we all have to get it done. Your dad and TJ are working so hard to keep things going and to keep moving forward. I wish I could make it easier for them. I wish you were here with us. There is no stronger "four" than we are. Our "four" is unstoppable. And although some may try, nobody will keep us from the dreams and goals that we have set out to finish for you. Never doubt that. My Jacquie, I miss you so much, I can only talk to you and sing to you, but I cannot hold you, and I cannot comfort you. Please remember to say with me, and visit me in my dreams. I still need you so much, we all do. I will love you forever and ever and always, and longer than that. With love, mom.