See, the thing is, she's a baby -- been on this here Earth only four short years.
And over the last few weeks, this pretty little chocolate girl with bright eyes and a mile-wide smile -- the daughter of a dear friend of mine -- has been battling a disease much too big for any child to bear, much less a kid who's yet to see the inside of a kindergarten classroom.
Her mother, Jennae Peterson, broke the news of her daughter's plight on her website, GreenYourDécor.com:
"It's still hard to write that word. It's even harder to say it out loud, because it feels like that will make it more real. But as much as I wish I could turn back time and change the diagnosis or deny it altogether, this is what we're facing. Every time we think about what her tiny body is doing to her, it breaks our heart a little bit more. This is pretty close to my worst nightmare come true."
This. This is what hurts me to the core. Because no baby should have to fight and claw and wrestle like this. And certainly, no mother or father should have to stand by and cuddle and rock and rub and put on the brave face when her or his child is suffering. I can not, for even one second, put myself in Jennae's shoes -- imagine the might she must muster to steel her back and square her shoulders and smile for her daughter's sake, even when tears have sapped every ounce of joy there is to be had.
What's worse is that Jennae's family doesn't have health insurance. Her husband? Looking for work. Jennae? Self-employed. The medical bills? Insurmountable. With all that's on their mind, they're also facing the very sad, very scary reality that the care baby girl needs may not be within their reach because they neither have nor can afford health insurance.
Um, hello Congress: Healthcare reform? Public option anyone? Do you want to, oh, I don't know, do your job so that the people you represent can count on tangible, sustainable, much-needed help? Because babies need not be in hospital wards with their mothers and fathers on their knees, praying for miracles and money.
Not when chocolate girlpies are sick and their mamas and daddies are barely holding on.
Though I'm tempted, I'm not going to launch into a missive on health care reform and the need for more meaningful legislation to help families (at least not in this post). Instead, I'm going to make an appeal to each of you -- my fellow moms, who can identify with Jennae on the most human of levels. Go over to my website today and make a donation toward my friend's daughter's hospital bills and chemotherapy treatments (using the "Chip In" widget in the left hand sidebar). No amount is too small or too big; anything -- and I mean anything -- is appreciated.
So, too, are your prayers for the pretty little chocolate girl with the bright eyes and the mile-wide smile.