When I found out I was pregnant with Gabriella, I joined an online group of other mothers expecting the same time I was. We've seen people come and go, but there is a group of us who have stuck together now for over four and a half years! These women are beyond wonderful, and I don't know what I would have done without them during this time in my life.
Gabriella wasn't the only baby born in our group on March 30th. Several were, in fact, but I'd like to tell you about one in particular. Walker.
Gabriella and Walker share a birthday. Walker has an older brother, and I remember their mom T talking about how much the two brothers loved each other. They were so sweet together. T and I chatted online one night, about our kids, and motherhood, and life in general. She is the most wonderful person.
Then around February of 2003 T posted that Walker had the flu. Or it seemed like the flu, but no one else in her family was getting it. It lasted long enough that she finally took him to the doctor. I remember her saying her husband thought she was a little silly for taking him in, because after all, it was just the flu, but she just couldn't help but feel something else was wrong.
Sadly she was right. It didn't take long before Walker was diagnosed with a brain tumor. At almost two years old he had been walking, and talking, and suddenly he was losing these skills.
All of us in the group were stunned, and scared. That little boy was one of ours! This couldn't be happening! It was a roller coaster of good news and bad news over the next few weeks. First there was nothing they could do. Then there was some hope, and we even believed all would be well in the end. Then devestating news - they couldn't do anything more. Walker left the hospital to go home, where he got to spend his second birthday with his family. Just days after he was back in the hospital - the end was near.
Walker passed away April 4, 2003 in the arms of his mother. Just five short weeks after his diagnosis. Our entire group felt the loss. We raised money for his family, we lit candles in his memory. The day he was put to rest we all had our toddlers release balloons in his honor. (To this day everytime Gabriella sees a balloon floating away she asks if it's going up to Walker.) Several mommies in the group even made the trip to be there for his funeral.
I was so touched by what Walker and his family went through. Because of him I am reminded daily to charish my children, and my family. Every day is precious. I never pass up an opportunity to donate money to cancer research in his name.
Gabriella will never have a birthday where I don't think about Walker, and his family. He was such a precious little boy, taken far too early. His life was a gift, and his death was not in vain. My heart has been permenately stamped by him - the little boy I knew, but never met.