I was a bit fatigued the day after receiving my 2nd COVID-19 vaccine. But it was a beautiful Saturday in February, and I know I wasn’t feeling nearly as tired or cruddy as one of our house moms who’s in the biggest battle for her life. She has breast cancer, her2 positive, which means it spreads quickly. Her treatment plan includes chemo that goes right through her—many times a day. Needless to say, she’s always tired and feels like the life has been zapped from her.
We all know people who battled cancer: some of them fought and lost and some fought and are still here, including me. But this is different. This single foster mom has 7 children living in the home. They’re all learning virtually. As a foster parent, you never know who you’ll get, what behaviors they’ll exhibit, and how long they’ll be with you.
This group of 7 kids is special. They are a family unit. They laugh, argue, clean, eat, and play together. Every single one of them has a happy disposition. Some of them are siblings. But if you didn’t know differently, you would think they’re one group of siblings.
I took all 7 of them to Forest Park Saturday so mom could rest and just have a bit of downtime. What a tremendous blessing this turned out to be. When I arrived at their home, they were waiting by the door. Each one of them had one of the specially-themed denim quilts made just for them in their arms.
The gratitude they exhibited was completely unexpected. “Thank you for taking us to this really cool park.” “Thank you for setting up this picnic for us.” “Thank you for taking time from your weekend to be with 7 kids.”
We walked in creeks, walked some trails, played Zombie Tag (I was “it” most of the time since I’m a slow runner), but even then, they came to my rescue and allowed me to catch them. We had a picnic lunch with everyone sprawled out on their personalized blankets. Other kids even came to play with us and shared their kites and balls with them.
I can’t begin to tell you what this day did for my heart and my soul. It’s quite evident that these kids are experiencing what love is. They know what it means to be part of a family. They’ve learned what it means when someone has their back.
I talked with them about how hard it is to endure chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. I talked about the fatigue, the sick feeling, the metallic taste of almost all food, the inability to sleep due to frequent trips to the bathroom. I let them know that their foster mom’s cancer is treatable and has a very high success rate. Regardless of what the doctors say, it’s scary as hell, and each day in treatment (and after) brings its own challenges.
But all the while this beautiful mama manages to smile. In fact, her tears are tears of gratitude. She and her big family have been enveloped with more love than they know what to do with. They’re receiving delicious meals from supporters, from Pink Ribbon Girls, and from Angels’ Arms. One dedicated supporter redid her bedroom to make it more of a tranquil place. Others have assisted with laundry, cleaning, building another room for storage…the list goes on.
The kindness Ramona is experiencing is the sunshine that’s attempting to take over the always-looming clouds.
At the end of the day, I brought the kids home. They each went in to say hello to their “mom” and let her know how much fun they had. Then I went in to tell this mama how full my heart was. When you get outside of yourself and spend time with kids whose parents have died, given up parental rights, abused and neglected them, it certainly diminishes your “problems” and gives your existence a new perspective.
We’re here to help each other. It takes more than a village. It takes one big-ass village.
Executive Director and Founder