The question I get asked perhaps more than any other is, “How is Izzy doing?.” I have learned to smile gently and respond with simplicity, “Really well, thank you.” Often times people take the question further, “So she’s going to be okay, right?” At this point in the conversation I clear my throat and disassociate. My mind goes somewhere else while my mouth continues to speak, “No, probably not. She will likely be on chemotherapy for the rest of her life, until she’s not. But today she feels good so I’m thankful.” And that, in a nutshell, is the everyday I live in. A constant flux of wanting to live with intention and needing to disassociate. Like the person asking questions, I want to believe everything will be okay, I want to hope for the impossible. But as the mother who has walked a very long six years, I need to disassociate from truth. I need to disassociate from my own story.
Next week will travel back to Cincinnati for two days of scans. The first scan will tell us if the radiation did what it should have – if the spots (only one was active) are gone. The second scan will look for Neuroblastoma activity throughout her entire body. If any spots remain in her abdomen or if there are any new ones anywhere, this scan will tell us if they are active. When I told Izzy we were having scans next week she boldly declared: I wish we could have scans the day before Thanksgiving because then on Thanksgiving we could have something to be thankful for – my good scans.
Several weeks ago we had photographs taken of Izzy wearing my wedding dress. We pulled the fabric tightly together, then clamped it behind her. There was so much fabric, so much beading – it weighed her down when she walked, nearly causing her to fall on more than one occasion. It was freezing that night and she told me later she thought her fingers might fall off. Standing in that park with the bitter fall wind I remember thinking – please don’t let this be the last time I do this – as I adjusted her veil. The rest of the time I stood to the side while the photographers did their thing. The sun began to set as they positioned her here and there.
When I got back the hundreds of photos an old friend graciously took for us this is the one that stood out to me. All of them were breathtaking, but this one pulled at every string of my heart. This, my friends, is a picture of faith. She is clothed in white, in innocence, and she is seated in a posture of gratitude. The air surrounding her is freezing, yet she appears completely unaffected by the conditions of this world. She is focused not on that which is around her but on that which is above her. Her smile, her eyes, they seem to stare into the heavens. It’s as if she sees the Lord and believes with entirety that He sees her too.
I don’t know what news we will learn next week. Nor do I know how that information will impact the next three months of our life. What I do know is that on December 23rd – the six year anniversary of her diagnosis – we will go downtown and serve ‘people with no homes’ (that’s Izzy’s token phrase) and we need your help. When Izzy first learned of people with no homes, she was overcome with compassion and anger. Her compassion was towards their predicament and her anger was towards me. She was furious that I would not bring them all home with us to live. After several nights of talks and tears she was determined that if they could not live with us the least we could do was take blankets to them. Last year Bundle Up grew including more of you and impacting more “people with no homes.” We gave a blanket just like we had the first year but we had so many additional donations of cash we also gave hats, gloves, socks and food gift cards.
This year we decided to be more intentional about the giving. Let’s pool those efforts together and give every person something more than a blanket, something more than a pair of gloves. Let’s give people that have ‘no home’ something that is practical for their unique circumstances – a sleeping bag. There are thousands of people that follow Izzy’s story. If just 200 of you give a sleeping bag or donate $20 for us to buy one on our own we could make a huge impact this December 23rd. We could turn a day the enemy meant for evil for our family into a day that blesses hundreds. Here’s how you can help:
- Buy a sleeping bag and have it shipped to us. I’ve created an Amazon Wish List and added it below. Just click on the link, buy the bag(s) and they’ll get shipped directly to us Bundle Up Wish List
- Donate cash for us to buy sleeping bags with. I’ve created a GoFundMe page for these donations. Give what you feel led and we’ll do the rest: Bundle Up GoFund Me
- Donate a new or gently used sleeping bag on your own. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get you our address to drop it off.
- Show up downtown on the 23rd and help! We’ll be meeting at noon at the Indiana War Memorial – look for the Bundle Up Banner and a small, blue canopy. Last year so many folks wanted to stick around and chat after they received their gifts so this year we will have cookies and coffee to help create an atmosphere for this. Just email me if you’d like to donate cookies or coffee too!
- Host your own Bundle Up in your home town on the 23rd in Izzy’s honor. Yours can look however you want. Stick to Izzy’s original vision of blankets if you want – we don’t care!
So that’s it, really. Regardless of our circumstance there is always hope. Izzy reminds me of that and she reminds me to live and give with intention. I don’t want to forever be a person who lives everyday disassociating – I want to be fully present, to be intentional about the words I speak and the choices I make. I want to be like her in this photo: focused not on that which is around me but on that which is above me.
Blessings on you today and LIFE for Izzy!