When wishes aren’t enough

florenceLast week someone asked me, what surprised you about becoming a mother? I didn’t have a very good response.

If I had to answer over again, I would say, I became forever connected to every other mother on the planet.

I imagine you feel the same way.

Since I first wrote about Florence more than two years ago, I’ve been awed by how many of you have quietly followed her story. How many have sent wishes and thoughts and prayers for a little girl you never met; a family you don’t know. How many of you have reached out through words or notes of kindness, have emailed, have left comments on their Facebook page, have posted yourselves, have donated money, have hoped against all hope for the transplant to work, the stem cells to grow, the evil unnamed disease inside her to disappear into nothingness.

It seems implausible that strangers on the internet do this for strangers. But they do. We see it time and again.

It’s because we are not strangers. We are mothers. And another mother’s pain is our pain. Another mother’s loss is our loss.

I’m sad to say that Florence died last night. She was six years old.

Her mother, my sister-in-law and I were all pregnant at the same time, the spring of 2005.

It wasn’t supposed to go like this.

It’s never supposed to go like this for a child.

In the most unbelievably exquisite, haunting, heartwrenching post you have ever read, the words of a father faced with the impending loss of his daughter, Will quoted his wife: “We have only borrowed Florence.”

I wonder if I would be as strong as they have been over the past several years, watching her fight.

I wonder if I could be as eloquent and thoughtful.

Clearly I’m not a religious person. But I do believe that when you put good into the world, it comes back to you. And I staunchly believe that your prayers and wishes and good thoughts and white light did not go to waste. They helped Florence’s family through so many months of pain and hospitals and disappointment, one day at a time. Her parents and grandparents have thanked me for all the kindness from my friends and readers, even if they couldn’t thank you each individually.

You did good. Even if you could not save Florence.

I hugged my girls a long time last night. So long that they got uncomfortable and squirmy. That hardly seemed long enough.

For those of you have been so kind to ask, yes, there is a Memorial Fund in honor of Florence for Duke’s Pediatric Bone Marrow Unit’s Family Support Unit. Info at this link.


80 thoughts on “When wishes aren’t enough”

  1. How absolutely devastating. My thoughts are with her family. It’s so true, since becoming a mom, I feel connected to every single mom out there. It’s a blessing, but it’s also a major heartache. My heart bleeds with each story like this, and I think it’s the most unfair thing on earth. No one should ever have to go through losing their child. Thanks for sharing her story, Liz.

  2. Im so sorry for your loss and for your SIL and her family. No one should ever have to lose a child. My heart is with you all at this sad, sad time.

  3. I read his post last night, and those words, the borrowing of that sweet girl, they touched me.

    Love to your whole family, Liz.

  4. I imagine there’s nothing worse than parents outliving their children. My sincere condolences to Florence’s family and friends…

  5. Liz, I’m so sorry for your loss. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

  6. I am so sorry for the loss of beautiful Florence. My heart is with all of those who loved her, especially her parents.

  7. Oh, my mother heart aches. Liz, my condolences go to Florence’s family and yours. May her memory be for a blessing.

  8. And we will never forget her strength, joy, and obvious love for all that was around her while you and her family had her here. I’m so so sorry. I have not lost a child of my own, but I watched my Mom lose one of hers…..and I truly echo what you say Liz, somehow that love stays with us, becomes a part of every thing we do, and thank you and Florence’s family for sharing it for the short time you had her.

    1. Thank you all so much for the kindness. I’m sure it means the world to her family right now.

  9. It seems so unfair that there was such hope just a few weeks ago and then, this. We are all connected to Florence now and may her family know how many people she touched in her life.

  10. I can’t imagine losing a child, and my heart goes out to you and Florence’s family. There are really no words…

  11. Love to you and yours. Thank you for sharing Florence with us. Even when these connections mean shared sadness, I’m still glad to have them.

  12. I’m so, so very sorry for your family, Liz. My heart broke when I heard the news. What a special little girl to have touched so many hearts.

  13. I don’t think there are words to express the heartbreak all mothers are feeling as we read the sad news. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  14. You are so right, we are all connected by this thing called motherhood. Our hearts and hands come together to help whenever we can with whatever we can do. When we can do no more, we grieve together and lend support. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of precious Florence and am sending my love to her family and yours on this sad day.

  15. I am so very sorry for their loss and for yours. I wish upon a thousand stars and more that no parent would have to endure this loss and that no family would feel the emptiness of life after the loss of a child. All I can say is thank you for sharing Florence’s journey with us.

  16. I am so, so sorry that anybody has to go through such unimaginable pain. The world is a narrow bridge indeed.

    I hope it’s not inappropriate to leave a link here to a wonderful organization that provides support to parents who have lost their children — http://griefhaven.org/ They are good people who have been down this road. If it IS inappropriate, I am really sorry and please delete.

  17. Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t follow the story of Florence, but my heart goes out to any parent who looses a child.

  18. I was sitting next to my six year old when I read this (the first time…had to come back and hoped it hadn’t really happened). He asked why I was crying. All I could do was give him a hug. Sending love to your family.

  19. Been trying to find the words, all I can say is that I am so sorry for your and your family’s loss. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. You are all in my heart.

  20. Oh, I’m so, so sorry. Life can be so unfair.

    I’m home with a sick toddler today. I will hug her and be grateful that she’s just got a cold. We had a scare with her last year, when we thought she might have something seriously wrong. It turns out, she just gets fevers easily. Annoying- but having stared into the face of the alternative, I’m grateful. I am so sorry that Florence and her family were not so lucky.

  21. I’m not a mom, and this still breaks my heart. My heart goes out to you and Florence’s family.

  22. I can’t even fathom the loss. I will go home tonight and hug my 6 year old and thank whoever is listening for every day I’m lucky enough to do so. I’m so, so very sorry for you all.

  23. Liz – I am so so sorry to hear about Florence. I have been following along for the past few months. Truly heartbreaking. Sending love and support

  24. Oh my gosh, how do people survive an earth shattering loss like this?

    how do they go on?

    It’s really not living anymore, it’s like just making it through another day.

    And wondering why.

    I am so very very sorry.

    1. They go on because they have still a daughter who is alive and healthy and vibrant and wonderful. We live for the living.

  25. My husbands grandmother lost her youngest of 7 children at 13 years old from a hunting accident. She was an amazing women who I was lucky to know. When she died suddenly at 82 years old his picture was the only picture in her wallet. At her funeral the priest who also came to the house the same day her youngest died recounted meeting her at the door when she said ” how lucky we were to have him for 13 years”. I think about that now that I have a 9 mo old and don’t know how she had the strength, how your brother has the strength… But thank god that we find the strength. I will say a prayer for you all tonight.

  26. Life is so unfair. Peace, love and strength to her family and friends.

  27. Oh Liz. My entire body hurts with this news, but mostly my heart.

    It’s hard to type through the tears. Please know that I’m sending you love from my heart to you, your family and Florence’s.

  28. Oh my heart…. Liz… I’m so very sorry sweet Florence is gone too soon. Your family, her family… her sweet big sister…. you are all in my thoughts. Love to all of you.

  29. I am so sorry for all of you dealing with the loss of sweet Florence.
    What devastating news for all of you.

  30. I’m heartbroken for a little girl I never met. It makes me think of my little Erika who will be 6 in August. I can’t even imagine the loss Florence’s family is feeling. I am so, so sorry.

  31. I am so very sorry. Much love and strength to you and to her family.

  32. I am so very sorry as I have been thinking about her recently. So much love + prayers to all.

  33. So very sorry to hear this.
    Mala (long-time reader from India)

  34. Your story breaks my heart.. I really hope that you’ll be more strong to over some it..

  35. It’s taken a day for me to come back and write this: I’m so sorry, Liz. So sorry for you and your family. I feel lame that sorry is all I can manage, even after knowing this news for a day now, but it is. What more is there when something is so unfair and makes so little sense. I wish I knew. We will continue to send peace, love and strength to Florence’s family. Our thoughts continue to be with Florence’s family.

    1. That’s so lovely, Stacie. Thank you so much.

      And thank you everyone. The kindness is overwhelming.

  36. Just reading this post, and your others about Florence, makes me tear up and sob. It’s so true to feel that being a mother is a connection to other mothers and pretty much every kid in the world. I wish for calm and peace for Florence and your family.

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