Never lose sight of love
The idea that your child is sick and may not survive is enough to break any of us
Good news is hard to find these days and this is not a good news story. Rather, it’s a reminder of what’s really important. Never lose sight of the love you have for family and friends and the time you have together. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the little things that, in the end, don’t matter. I was recently reminded of just how fragile and heartbreaking love can be.
It’s a situation you never want to deal with. Words you never want to hear. Decisions you never want to make. Thoughts you never want to think about. The idea that your child is sick, that she might not make it, that she’s going to feel pain you can’t imagine, it’s enough to break any of us.
Not Michael Martinez. Michael and his wife, Dorothy, have a wonderful son in Cristiano and they had a beautiful daughter in Anya. Anya was diagnosed with leukemia when she was just two years old. She and her family fought like hell for eight difficult years — years of tremendous highs and lows, feelings of hope for the future and despair for what may never be. Her father stood stoic through a very tough battle and their family rallied together for what is unimaginable to most of us. Anya’s parents never let defeat become an option. When a treatment or trial didn’t work, they found another one. They fought for medical coverage to make some of the trials in the U.S. happen. They looked to the community for support — a community who cared deeply — for donations to help save their daughter. It worked. And then it didn’t.
What was supposed to be a rally cry for an ailing angel on Labour Day became an unexpected moment of mourning. And there was her dad, standing in the middle of a crowd of hundreds of people, mostly strangers, hugging each and every one of them. It was odd to see the pain in his face, because he always hid it so well. But backed by his support network, he came down to announce his daughter’s passing, just hours after she left. He was, after all this time, broken.
The community showed up once again, as they have for years, to do whatever they could to help the family. Their love could be seen in so many ways: donations, messages, prayers, gifts, signs and unicorn balloons. Every time Michael put out a call for help, they answered.
To all the parents who are there for their children the way the Martinez family was, I’m in awe. To Anya, a young girl who had such strength and determination and the will to live, I’ll never forget you.
Life is unfair and it’s difficult to comprehend why we lose sons and daughters, children and babies. Hug your children tight, and then hug them even tighter.
If I ever think of those thoughts we don’t want to think about — if my kids ever need me the way Anya needed her family — I only hope I have half of the strength that Michael and the Martinez family had for her for all of those years. Love and family truly are everything.
The Martinez family: left to right, Anya, Dorothy, Cristiano and Michael. Leukemia took Anya from her family on the Labour Day weekend.