This post was written by Shirley Langford, in honor of her daughter Sophia Langford.
It shocks me to think that next month, Sophia would have turned six-years-old. If she were here, she would definitely be happily planning her next birthday party. She would also have been picking out her wardrobe for first grade. Would her hair still be curly? How tall would she be right now? Would she know how to read? What would her handwriting look like now? What wonderful things would she know? Cancer robbed her of her chance to grow up. Those questions will never be answered.
Fiona (Sophia’s younger sister) is nearly the same age that Sophia was when she was diagnosed with cancer. Miss Fiona loves talking about birthdays and is already talking about what should happen at her birthday party. Her birthday is months away. Sophia was doing the exact same thing when she was diagnosed. I can still hear Sophia list out all the things we had to have for her birthday party. Balloons. Birthday cake. Presents. Goody bags.
Fiona is full of life and innocence. I can’t imagine throwing the cruelty of cancer on Fiona at this age. She’s so little. She’s full of excitement for life. She’s a ball of energy who is just learning all the words she needs to know to express herself. Her imagination is taking off and she’s learning that she’s scared of what she can’t see in the shadows. Yet, at this age, 2 and a half, is when cancer snuck in and introduced Sophia to a terrifying world that nobody would want to inflict on a toddler. Sophia learned about things much worse than imaginary things hiding in the shadows.
It is just wrong. It is wrong that Sophia’s life was torn from her. It is wrong that she had to suffer terribly. It is wrong that she will not be here with her loved ones to celebrate her sixth birthday.
What is done is done. It happened. There is no turning back the hands of time and there is no waking up from this nightmare. There is no escaping the hated question of “how many kids do you have?” There is no filling the emptiness left in your heart. You learn how to function and live with the gaping hole inside of you. There are many moments of happiness. We are grateful for that fact. The grief continues to come in strong waves and it continues to be hardest at night when it is quiet.
Fiona fills our days with smiles and laughter. At night, the calm leaves an opening for the darker thoughts to enter the mind. Healing is a slow process. You cannot hurry the process and you cannot put a time limit on it.
I do not foresee moving on. I see us moving forward and continuing to live in our new reality. However, I cannot “move on” from Sophia. She is a part of us and she will always be a part of us. Fiona is now saying things on her own without prompting like, “Where is Sophia” and “I want to see Sophia again.”
Fiona delights in the things her big sister left for her. We talk about Sophia and show her Sophia’s pictures and videos. Sophia is a part of our family and we will not move on from her. We will take her with us in our hearts. We’d much rather have her here with us on earth, but it is what it is. You make the best of what you have.
So, as I was saying, Sophia’s birthday is coming up and we wanted to do something to honor her memory. Since she loved coloring, drawing, doing mazes, finding hidden pictures, and doing preschool level workbooks, we thought a coloring book drive would be a perfect way to honor her sweet life. We want to collect these things that remind us of Sophia and give them to the children fighting cancer right now. We wanted to do something that could bring a smile to the face of a pediatric cancer patient, because we know those smiles are priceless.
We hope that our friends in the Atlanta area can help us in this effort. We are gathering coloring books, crayons, drawing pads, colored pencils, maze books, hidden picture books, different grade level workbooks, and stickers. We want to have something for all the different age levels. We will distribute them to the organizations like BTFC who helped us during Sophia’s journey.
The Toco Hills locations of Gymboree and The Music Class have put out collection boxes since Sophia loved going to both places. If some local friends want to get their work places or churches to help collect the items, I can e-mail you a flyer that you can hang up over a box. Feel free to share Sophia’s story. We can figure out a way to pick up the donated items in the Atlanta area. I hope to have everything collected by the end of the first week in August. If you want to help out, just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d love to be able to make lots of cancer kids of all ages smile. Sophia colored and worked in her workbooks until the very end, even when her eyes and body tried to make her stop. She refused to quit. She enjoyed her art work and school work and she took pride in placing a sticker at the top of each page after she finished it. That is the passionate Sophia we loved.
Please help us honor her memory and help us to put these fun items into the hands of the kids who will hopefully enjoy them as much as angel Sophia. Thank you for your help and thank you for continuing to keep our family in your thoughts and prayers. Don’t forget to hug your loved ones every day.