by Liz Scott, Alex's mother
Today marks what would have been a big birthday for Alex—she would be turning 21!
It is hard to picture Alex as a healthy 21-year-old. Cancer was such a part of her life that I can’t imagine her without it — maybe it is because even if she had survived, the cost to her health would have been significant. Or maybe it is just too painful to try to create the 12-plus years of living Alex missed. But, I think it is really because I don’t want to think of her as anything but exactly who she was – my daughter, a sister to her three brothers, a friend. Alex was a girl who faced more adversity in her short life than most of us will face in a lifetime, but still dared to dream of a better future for other children. She is forever 8 in my heart.
In trying to put my thoughts together as we mark Alex’s birthday, I decided to go back to an old online journal I used to keep. I thought I could get some inspiration from reading about 8-year-old Alex. I couldn’t bring myself to read most of it because it was so tough, but I did come across a poem that was written for Alex that I hadn’t read in quite a while. It was written by her Aunt Lisa on her 8th birthday. It says so beautifully what Alex’s life was about, so I thought I would share it with you:
When you face one more day where you’re too tired to play,
And that same awful pain just won’t go away,
Close your eyes and dream.
When each second of the hour feels way too long,
And all of your choices just seem wrong,
Close your eyes and dream.
Dream that warm, safe arms are hugging you,
Just like Mom’s and Daddy’s do.
Dream of all the people you’ve touched, who smile,
And say you’ve made their life worthwhile.
Dream of all the kids you’ve helped to say,
“I’m feeling better every day!”
Dream of shining power deep within,
To face the darkness and scream “I win!”
For in dreams we make our hopes come true;
We shade the glass we’re looking through,
And despite how it can often seem,
Nothing can take away your dreams.
Everyone who knows you is dreaming for you,
That your days will get sunny and your skies be clear blue,
That you’ll get all you need and then so much more,
That you’ll never feel sick and your spirit will soar!
See, we don’t have to dream, the way some people do,
About strength, love or courage, for we know they are true.
You’ve shown them to us by the way that you live,
Through all that you go through, your one wish: To give.
So dream really BIG of all you wish for,
Close your eyes tight and look forward to more,
And remember with every fight you go through,
We love you and know all your dreams will come true.
It was written with so much love. At the time, it represented that little tiny bit of hope we still had that some miracle cure might come along for Alex. Now, looking at this poem today, the words take on a different meaning to me. It speaks to something much bigger than Alex, and in so many ways the words are truer today than they were when they were written 13 years ago.
Obviously, Alex did not get to live all of her dreams for herself. She had a lot of them that she would be old enough now to have accomplished – family vacations to places like the Grand Canyon, shopping and sightseeing in Paris, designing and creating clothing, going to college and so many more. Cancer stole those dreams from her and I wish I could tell her how sorry I am for that.
She would probably say as tough as cancer was, she was tougher. We all know that was true, because Alex was strong enough to dream a dream so big that cancer couldn’t take it away: the dream that all children with cancer could be cured someday.
That dream has not only lived 13 birthdays past her last birthday, but it has grown even bigger as more and more people have taken this dream into their hearts and have worked to keep it going. Most importantly, this dream IS coming true for more and more children every day. We are seeing the progress made, the lives saved and the difference it is making. It is such a gift in so many ways. I am grateful for it and it inspires me to keep going and doing more, until the day when we can mark her birthday in true celebration, knowing that her dream finally came true.