Tag Archives: in memory of a daughter

Thank You Letter

Fall flowers and a donation to Ronald McDonald House in memory of her deceased daughter inspired kindness and generosity for bereaved mother Robin Botie in Ithaca, New York.Dear Wag’in Tail Dog Grooming in Auburn, NY,

Thank you so much for your gift to Ronald McDonald House in memory of my daughter Marika Warden. I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m not even sure Marika knew you. But I’m very grateful for your donation. Unless you are another bereaved mother you probably wouldn’t understand how much it means to know that the life of your child mattered, or could make a difference somewhere. It means the world to me that five years after her death, Marika could inspire kindness and generosity.

And I’m so glad you chose to give to Ronald McDonald House. Because in the sad parting from the city where I last “left” my daughter, and in all this time since she died, I never really thanked the warm people at Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald House-Within-the-Hospital who welcomed the distraught mother standing at their doorsteps dazed and red-eyed, early on in her journey through the wilds of cancer, sobbing, “Is this for real? You mean I can sleep here and you’ll wake me if the hospital calls?”

Imagine you’ve traveled far from your home to seek treatment for your sick child. You know no one in this city. You sleep in the hospital’s uncomfortable reclining chairs, not wanting to leave your precious one alone. You eat from your child’s almost-untouched meal trays. You’re told not to use The Patient’s Bathroom, so you dash down the hall to the ladies room when you have to, and hug the sympathetic nurse who shows you the shower in a nearby slop closet. Your kid reacts to chemo so horrifically you don’t dare leave her bedside until things stabilize, and when they do you suddenly realize how tired and disheveled you’ve become. You don’t know how to begin to resuscitate yourself. And then, one day you’re offered a very affordable room close by.

First it was a room right in the hospital, a few floors down from the oncology unit. Later it was in a house a couple of blocks away. A room with a real bed and my own bathroom. Washers and driers nearby. Flowers. Meals lovingly prepared and left for whatever hour of the night I would tear myself away from my daughter. There were other mothers to talk to. Families. People like me, living in a strange city with invisible thick rubber bands tethering them to their critically ill children in the hospital, gratefully pulling themselves back and forth from their home-away-from-home, to regroup. Ronald McDonald Charities. You picked a good place to help out.

So thank you, Wag’in Tail. For your gift, for reviving my memories, for letting Marika’s story move you, and for allowing her life to still count for something. Cheers!


PS: Wag’in, The note Ronald McDonald House sent to inform me of your donation was what gave me the most joy this week. I don’t know your real name. But I know you are no longer a stranger.


Birthday Wishes to Heaven

Ray Possen and Robin botie have birthday sushi at Mitsuba Restaurant in Ithaca, NY to celebrate the life of Marika WardenAt the last minute my daughter’s friend called to postpone our sushi dinner, the celebration of the third birthday since my daughter died. It didn’t bother me. It was actually typical of Marika’s birthdays. She used to make her birthday last a whole week.

But I was stuck. It was six on a Saturday night, not a good time to round up a friend or sit by myself in a crowded restaurant. So I decided to get a takeout and bring it home to eat by Marika’s life-size portrait, with candlelight, and her dog. Stepping into the car, I decided I would “listen” to Marika, do what she would do. For so many of her birthdays I had allowed her to lead me through shopping sprees at the Syracuse Mall, pond parties, … huge sushi platters.
“You can’t have sushi three nights in a row,” I’d laughed, knowing she could.
“But it’s my birthday,” she’d say with a silly pout. I couldn’t refuse a birthday wish. I was with her for every one of her birthdays and on those days she ruled.

Alone in the car on the evening she would have turned twenty-four, I headed for the sushi place where I would take her friend for dinner the following night. But suddenly I heard my daughter’s voice.
“Mom. Turn here. ZaZa’s!” There was barely time to check for traffic in the lane I crossed to turn into the parking lot.
“Did I ever take you here?” I wondered aloud as I parked.
“Mom, I love ZaZa’s.” So there we were. Before reading the menu, I knew we would walk out with the seafood stew and chocolate cake.

I knew that later my son would pour two glasses of scotch to toast Marika. I knew the next morning I’d hike with her dog in the trillium and trout lilies that herald in this season. I would blow bubbles into the wind and toss breadcrumbs to ducks on the pond. I’d light a candle and take her friend to the sushi restaurant the next day. And I knew Mothers’ Day would follow soon and I’d buy myself a gift “from her.”

What I didn’t know was how hard it would be still, to stand with her dog in the late night rain under a starless sky and sing happy birthday to her.