Sunday, February 22, 2015
Honored and blessed to be a part of "Jalene's Journey"...
Over the years, the friends that Rowan has made have not come from school, where most kids his age make friends. Rowan is home-schooled due to his compromised health, immune deficiency and frequent hospitalizations. The majority of his friends, he has met either at doctor appointments, Children's Cancer & Blood Clinic, during art therapy, or in the play room at Methodist Children's hospital. The bond that these children have, is like no other...the same goes for their parents. There is an instant kinship, a special unspoken understanding, a bond that I can't even put into words. It is a "club" that no one wants to join, but if you are a part of it, those friendships are a God-send. This post is about one of those special young friends, her unimaginably strong mother, and how we are blessed to have them in our lives.
This is one of the first pictures I have of Jalene and Rowan in the Art/Play Room at Methodist Children's Hospital. It was less than a year ago, yet nearly a lifetime ago.
They made these little finger casts and decorated them. Rowan named his "Super Rowan". Jalene's Mom, Jen and I talked while the kids worked on their project with the Art Therapist. It was therapy for us I'm sure too...having someone to talk to, someone who was going through unique yet similar trials. Little Sophia was there too, and her equally strong, amazing Mother, Rossio. During that stay, the kids would meet in this room several more times. The art projects changed each time, and the friendships strengthened. I am sure at that time though, none of us knew the changes that were to come.
Fast forward several months...Sophia has just finished her final chemotherapy treatment, had her brain mri, and been declared "Cancer-free".
Rowan and his siblings just completed their HLA typing and we are waiting to hear news from Seattle as to whether his sister Zoe, or his brother Ian, will be a perfect match for his bone marrow transplant.
And Jalene, is fulfilling as many bucket list items as she can, because her parents were recently given the worst news imaginable... her PNET brain tumors have returned, multiplied and are growing. There is nothing else the doctors can do for her. Barring a miracle, she will soon lose her life to this disease. (Though as Rowan will tell you, "It is never too late for God to do His miracles!")
Rowan and I have been so touched by Jalene and her family, that we have done our best to rally our family and friends to help her fulfill as many of her bucket list items as possible. I was blown away by the response of our loved ones. They purchased a motorized "Frozen" themed Mustang convertible power wheels, bought plane tickets for her grandmother and grandfather to join Jalene and her family on her Disney World Make-A-Wish trip, sent money, helped send them to Colorado so Jalene could see snow and build a snowman, and helped me put together the following customized gifts so Jalene can have memorable, personalized, private spa days at home with her Mom, Jen and her sister, Zoe.
On top of all of the manicure, pedicure, facial and bath products and equipment, I bought slippers, headbands, eye masks, and robes in each of their favorite colors.
Red for Mom, Jen...
Purple for Jalene...
Blue for sister Zoe...
Jalene loves butterflies, so I added butterflies in each of their favorite colors, onto their individual robes...
I love, love, love wrapping presents ( I secretly wish I worked at Gimbels as a gift wrapper), and I was so happy to find the PERFECT keepsake gift boxes with the perfect messages on them, and wrapping paper that matched and had butterflies on it.
Tonight, Rowan and I went to deliver these gifts to Jalene and her family at their home. They just returned from California this afternoon (from one of her bucket list trips to visit her cousins). They spent last night in the emergency room in California, where a CT scan revealed that one of her tumors is bleeding into the ventricle. The doctors there told her to go ahead and travel home as soon as possible, before her condition worsened. I don't take this time lightly. I can honestly say that we are the ones who were blessed by this experience, but I pray we helped them even a fraction of that amount.
One of the main reasons Rowan wanted to go see Jalene so soon was so he could "do art" with her again. This past hospital stay, she was there on the 4th floor, but he was in ICU on the 2nd floor. Then, once Rowan moved up to the 4th floor, Jalene got discharged. He never had the chance to "do art" with her this time. It has been on his mind ever since, and he just kept asking me, "When can I do art therapy with Jalene again?" That got me thinking, and Rowan and I came up with a great keepsake art project that we could do with her at her house. Rowan and I got it started at home this morning...
It was Rowan's idea that they could make a butterfly since they are her favorite. I suggested hand print butterflies. Then Rowan came up with the idea that it be half made from his hands, and half made from Jalene's hands. I call that a perfect, in every way, God-directed, art project. We brought all the supplies with us, so Jalene could finish Rowan's butterfly picture, and a blank canvas so she could make one for her Mommy, just with her hand prints, and brought lots of paint to choose from so she could make it in all her favorite colors.
(This is one of my favorite pictures...a young friend painting the hand of his even younger friend... for some reason it reminds me of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. I suppose because Rowan and I are definitely humbled by Jalene's Journey, and that he and I certainly feel it is our duty and honor to serve her and her family. If in this small way we are able to bless her and her family and humbly serve God, we are more than grateful for that opportunity.)
The butterfly paintings are not complete yet. I have plans to finish them tomorrow. Rowan will keep the one that has both of their hand prints, and we will return the one made completely of Jalene's prints to her Mom and Dad. The process, the time spent together "doing art" (as Rowan calls it) , and these pictures, with the hands of these two sweet angels... those memories will last long after the pink, blue and purple sparkly paint has faded.
One of the other little gifts that Rowan picked out for Jalene is butterfly window clings. He knew she loved butterlfies, and he knew he loved window clings. What he didn't know, is that she loved window clings too:) Jalene went straight to her newly made-over "Frozen" Special Spaces Room and started putting the butterflies onto her window.
Knowing Jalene probably needed a break, and that her family deserved as much quality private family time as possible, we thanked Jalene and her Mom and told them that we would be going. Then I asked Jalene if she liked "selfies" and if she could help me take one with her and Rowan. The outcome was priceless. I will cherish these next few photos forever and ever.
I pray that all who read this, be blessed by this story. I know that Rowan and I have certainly been blessed by Jalene and her family, and will continue to be touched by them forever. I also ask that you continue to pray for Jalene and her family (you can follow them on Facebook at "Jalene's Journey").
More than that though, I pray that you cherish every moment you have with your loved ones, and make beautiful, wonderful, special, memories like these.
God bless Jalene and the entire Salinas Family.