In first grade we put on a dance show to Lionel Richie for our moms.
The record player skipped as we danced around my childhood living room and our moms clapped at the finale.
She missed Girl Scout meetings often and had silky hair that I loved and her eyes were a little bit dark.
Her family went to Disney World because “nice people sent them” and I thought that was all it was.
I got used to the shine of her bald head and the bit of wispy fuzz that covered it and my six year-old self knew her only when she was well enough to see me.
I remember the sobs from my mom’s bedroom the day she was gone but didn’t feel it the way a grown-up heart did.
We missed school to tie a pink ribbon on the tree planted in front of the elementary she attended and I remember her mom’s smile.
Always a smile, through tears or clear eyes, her cheeks pushed up the corners of her face and I didn’t see the sadness behind it.
The days after I lost my own daughter, memories of my friend’s mom flooded back. With only a pregnancy and a few days of memories, the pain stung unbearably and I wanted to know the secret. I wanted to go back in time and ask my late friend’s mom about her smile and how she managed to create it.
Her survival of losing a daughter, the carrying of all those years of moments with her and then all those moments without her, I wondered where her strength came from.
I still do.
We recently reconnected through the world of social media and the first thing I saw was the crinkle of her eyes and the smile just as I remembered.
The mother in me saw what the child in me had not. The smile she wore for all those years was for everyone else and I can only hope that years of wearing it for others have turned into days when she can claim it for herself.
My friend passed away from leukemia almost 30 years ago. I will always remember the Before and After of her family. Few organizations nurture and support these deserving families while also raising money for life-saving research like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Through their Light the Night Walk, they give people like me (and you) the chance to do a little something when we’re grasping at ways to help. Visit Light the Night to learn more about this powerful event and how you can get involved.
To read more stories of bloggers and organizations coming together to Light the Night visit SheKnows.com.
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