I have been diligently following the Facebook page, Make a Wish with Gabriella, throughout the year. It is on that page that I learned about her involvement in fundraising for childhood cancer, the family's trip to Paris, Gabriella not only authoring a book but also her getting an honorary college degree at Shenandoah University. I was also entertained with her giggling, her poems and many wonderful photos of daily life with her 'younger' brother; "he's 6 years old, but he's not my little brother - he's my younger brother! He's taller and heavier than me," wrote Gabriella in a blog entry on the Smashing Walnuts Foundation site.
On Wednesday I read that Gabriella's health had declined and she was at home with the care of hospice. My heart sank as did all who have been touched by Gabriella and her family (to include the 19,268 and growing by the minute followers of the FB page). I obsessively thought about Gabriella and her family almost all day of every day. How could I not? How could any one not think about this bright personality being snuffed out by the beast that is cancer?
The community rallied with hope and prayer. On Friday there was a request on the Make a Wish for Gabriella page to make tissue paper flowers. " We are going to take all of these flowers and create giant bouquets of hand-made flowers in bright colors, just like Gabriella loves." And so the flowers bloomed, big, beautiful and bright like Gabriella's smile and personality.
This morning, I learned that Gabriella passed away last night. Heaviness abounded. Her spark has been darkened, but not extinguished; Gabriella was fierce and has left behind an energy and passion that will continue. She stated in her interview for Truth 365 "if I lose my battle, I want other people to carry on with the war, they're going to win this war".
Gabriella, I pray with all of my being that we will continue your war and win it. Like your mom frequently posts "I HATE cancer". No one should ever have to hear the words "your child has cancer". I thank your family for sharing you with us; I can't imagine how difficult that must have been, caring for you and your brother, dealing with personal grief and continuing to advocate, fight and share with all of those who care so desperately about you, your battle and childhood cancer. Gabriella, may your memory be a blessing, Z"L.
Gabriella's family has requested that those who wish to honor Gabriella make a contribution to her cancer awareness and research foundation at www.smashingwalnuts.com.