Stephaine, my daughter, my best friend and my hero.
On July 8th 2001 I was given the greatest gift of my life when Stephaine was born. It breaks my heart that I lost her to cancer on April 11th 2015. She was the only person I have ever known that never got angry or frustrated over anything. She filled our hearts with love and laughter everyday of her life. When she was diagnosed with cancer in December she never asked why me. When it had taken away her ability to walk she didn't get frustrated. I remember fighting back tears watching a physical therapist basically teaching our 13 year old girl on how to walk all over again. While she held the walker and continued to smile with each step she took. I have met many people in my life that you could tell were bad from the first hello. Stephaine never viewed anyone that way. If somebody didn't treat her right, she would keep peeling back the layers. Hoping to find something good about them. She didn't let cancer get her down. Instead she faced it head on filled with love and laughter, just like it was any other day. Even after multiple surgeries, doctor appointments, physical therapy and radiation treatments. She was still more worried about everybody else. Prior to having an internal shunt put in, she asked me if I was OK. A couple of days after the procedure I told her I wish I could take the tumor from her and put it in me. In her typical fashion she replied " But I don't want you to have it"
In December 2014 her and I decided to start this website. Even during the worse moment of her life, she wanted to help others. Looking back now I have to admit I was scared becoming a father. However Stephaine not only made being a father easy. She also made me a better person for knowing her. The approach she took to life was a refreshing change from my own approach and countless other people I knew. She didn't follow the script like most, instead she wrote her own. While kids her age were focused on growing up, she held onto to her childhood and wouldn't let go. There was no person on this earth or even cancer that could change her script. I mentioned in previous pages and post about how cancer could not define her. She may have lost her hair, been limited physically and spent numerous days in the hospital. But it never once took away anything she enjoyed doing.
In 2011 I had my own health issues I had to battle. She stood by my side everyday and never left. We spent every night together hanging out like friends. During the day I would play Dad for a few with such things like...How was school, got any homework is everything OK. Then after that I would hang up my Dad coat and transform into friend mode. Stephaine went about school and her treatments like an adult. She would get her work done and then flip the switch back to being a child and having fun. I was fortunate enough to be the person she spent the most time with. That meant the world too me. I can still remember shedding tears as she walked down our sidewalk on her first day of school. She was excited for this new adventure, while I worried about how others would treat her. I was also selfish because there was now something that took away part of my time with her. That part was easy to get over. She loved school and if she was sick, it was a battle keeping her home. Even while she was battling cancer and undergoing numerous procedures she kept asking the same question. When can I start school again.
The hardest thing a parent can face is losing a child. There are no words that can ease the pain or stop the tears. It's even tougher when that person was more to you than a daughter. She was truly my best friend. There was never a day we didn't tell each other I love you and there was never a day we didn't share some laughs. I made a choice after her diagnosis. That choice was to not talk about the impossible odds she was up against. Instead I wanted to focus on making each and everyday special for her. I wanted those days, like all others to be filled with love and laughter. I didn't work alone in doing that, our family and friends were a big help with that goal. Also helping us were people like Anthony Melchiorri and Gabriel Iglesias.
I was lucky to have such a loving daughter who taught me so much in a very short time. She touched the heart of every person that met her. I watched numerous medical professionals shed tears in her room during her last days. Some of them never actually talked to her, the stories were enough to let them know how special she was. While she only got a little 13 years in this world, she packed a lot of life into those years. In return she packed a lot of love into our lives. While it breaks my heart she is gone. Part of me feels sorry for the countless people that never got to know her. I watch people including myself get angry over the smallest things. Then look now at how much time we waste expressing anger over them. None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. None of us are guaranteed to ever know love and experience all the things a full life has to offer. She may have missed out on a lot of things that we as adults take for granted. But she didn't waste any of her time that she was given. She embraced life, loved everybody that was close to her and made all of our lives better. In the end she left us a blueprint to help other children battling cancer. She also left us one on how we can appreciate what we have and get the most happiness out of the time we have.
I learned along the way that I was raising more than a daughter. What started as a baby girl, grew to be my best friend and ended up being my hero. I will spend the rest of my life missing her. I don't ever see a day where I wont think about her or shed some tears. However that will not stop me from finishing what her and I started. This site was called A Mission Of Love because that's what my little girl was all about. She loved school, she loved having fun, she loved anybody she ever met and most importantly she loved all of us here at home. This page is not about making people sad. It's just the opposite. It's about hope, inspiration and motivation. What she taught us is don't take your time for granted, turn anger and frustration into inspiration.
I was blessed to have such a wonderful daughter that made my life better. She inspired me in so many ways and taught me so much. I love her more than anything in this world. I will miss her for the rest of my life until we meet again. Cancer took her away from all of us. But nothing can take away all the love and happiness she gave me for over 13 years. If she was here right now she would say stop crying. While that is easier said than done. I can get the tears to stop sometimes by just reflecting on all the precious memories she left me. Those memories are from 13 of the greatest years of my life, from the greatest person I've ever known.
I love you always and forever pumpkin.