Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Beyond a 13th Birthday

It’s been FORVER since I’ve posted anything here so it seemed time for an update.  My Malia Grace is celebrating her 13th birthday in heaven this next Tuesday, February 18th. As a family we wanted to do something to commemorate the day.  Birthdays, anniversaries of diagnosis, entering hospice, and of the day she entered heaven are all crazy hard, crazy strange days.  The first couple years after her passing it seemed wrong to let the days just slip by quietly, but we struggled how to celebrate when our hearts were broken into a million pieces.  Last year we solved the dilemma for her birthday. Malia LOVED ice cream and we had made an amazing family memory at the end of her earthly life eating ice cream for breakfast together while on her Make-A-Wish trip in Florida.  So we built on that memory and invited about 50 of our closest family and friends to join us in a virtual birthday party on Facebook.  They took pictures of themselves eating ice cream for breakfast and then posted the pictures on my Facebook page.  In the creative style of Malia’s spirit people sent pictures from Malls, drive-thru's, kitchen tables, couches and cars.  They took pictures of their cats getting a sweet lick or two.  They were silly and crazy and smiling and laughing in every single picture, and as I sat in front of our computer screen at home the tears fell.  I wept for the loss of our time with Malia.  I wept for the joy of knowing her celebration in heaven was outdoing ours by a long shot. I wept because I felt so very deeply loved though all of those pictures.  It got our family through the day with a lot of laughter mixed with those tears and gave us something to look forward to all day as the pictures kept coming in. All day my other two daughters would say, “Let’s check the computer again, Mom!”. Afterwards my sister made a collage in the shape of a heart out of all those pictures. It’s now a treasured memory tucked away in the deepest part of my heart. 

So this year we thought, Hey! Let’s open it up for all of our friends to participate if they chose to. So I sent the invite to my entire friends list on Facebook. Malia’s uncle Scott is a big thinker with a creative flare and gigantic heart. Half jokingly he posted that Malia’s birthday was a National Holiday and invited everyone he knew to join the “ice cream for breakfast” party.  My sister thought a National holiday was a great idea and a great way to bring awareness and support to childhood cancer warriors and the families that love them.  She made a poster to plaster all over Facebook... and it has taken on a life of it’s own.  In just 24 hours that poster has been shared over 1,200 times and one site alone has over 600 “likes” on the post, another over 300 “likes” and it’s growing exponentially.  It has already gone viral into more than 6 countries!  So... now it’s an “International ice cream for breakfast” party!  

For those close to us- it’s still about celebrating Malia’s birthday, but in grand Malia style it’s become so much bigger than our little family.  There are now people literally around the world who are going to join us in eating ice cream to honor, cheer on and remember all the childhood cancer warriors they know.  I see the gratefulness of parents and grandparents on line who feel loved and supported in that fight or in their grief, and it is mind blowing. It means so much to them to be remembered.  To be acknowledged.  To feel loved.  Who knew ice cream could do all that? After last year- I did.  And I’m thinking it’s a pretty great birthday present for Malia if she knew the impact of her birthday party gone wild.  She would think this is AWESOME!

There is a Facebook page dedicated just to this party called  YOU are invited!

(So here's an update on this story a YEAR LATER about eat ice cream for breakfast day in 2015 -on Malia's 14th birthday).  Here's the official stats from 2015

Website: 5,000 separate people came and checked it out!
Facebook: on our page alone the total reach was 147,057 separate people with 20,994 people who liked, shared or commented on a post directly from or on our page. Plus 3,841 new likes of folks who will join the movement next year! This doesn't account for anyone who posted their picture somewhere else (like on their own page or on a news article) without hashtags.
Hashtag Stats (from facebook, twitter & Instagram): Posts containing‪#‎eaticecreamforbreakfast‬ were seen by 872,319 separate people & posts containing ‪#‎icecreamforbreakfast‬ were seen by 3,918,242 separate people!  That's nearly 4 MILLION PEOPLE!!!!  AHHHHHH!!!!!

God has been doing some incredible things with Malia’s story.  I had the opportunity to speak at a Women’s Christmas Breakfast in December.  It was undeniable that I was supposed to do it, but it was an act of faith to follow-through.  The date I spoke was Malia’s Heaven day- just 3 years and 2 hours after the time she joined her Jesus. I didn’t know if I was ready to get through it without breaking down.... especially on THAT day.... especially while fighting a horrible cold... but God always gives you what you need when He has asked you to do something. I struggled some, but didn’t cough once and people’s hearts were touched in very deep places. It doesn’t take the pain of missing her away, but to know that God is using that pain to show his love and presence in people’s lives makes the pain more bearable.  It gives it some purpose, and that is a gift.

Now that I’m writing I find there is so much to share, but I don’t want this to get too long.  I may need to blog again soon.  Until then, THANK YOU to all of you who support and love us so well. Hope to “see” you on Tuesday at the party.  :)

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