They say the first year is the hardest, but after three years of watching Isla and Thomas get bigger without Jude there beside them I’m throwing that tired idea out. Every year without your child is the hardest. The shock has (mostly) worn off and laughter comes more easily, but tears are always just under the surface and pain can come from unexpected places.
Everything hurts more because Jude is gone. Everything is better because he was here at all. Three years ago today he left us and in those three years we’ve tried to find ways to honour his life by making the world better for others. May 6th three years ago was Mother’s Day weekend, so this year we’re putting out our call for good work through this week, and asking you to help us keep families together and honour other families who have lost their children and are doing good work in their memory. We’ve listed some of our favourites and we’d love to hear what you’re doing to leave the world better than you found it. Our tiny Superman is gone, but his impact continues. Thank you for being here with us.
We miss you, Jude, and we carry you with us wherever we go. We love you, tiny lion.
1. Canadian Blood Services – Give Blood
2. Green Shirt Day – Organ Donation
3. Ronald McDonald House
4. SickKids Get Better Gifts – Mother’s Day
5. UNICEF Life-Saving Vaccines
6. The Ana Grace Project
7. Many Hands, Doing Good
1. Canadian Blood Services
People often wonder how they’d act if they were in a position to save someone’s life. I have great news – it’s easier than you think. All you have to do is roll up your sleeve and give blood. It won’t cost you a dime and they’ll give you juice and cookies when you’re done. Not enough of us are currently giving and we’ve been running at a critical low in Canada. you’re never too late to start giving. Wondering if you’re eligible? Check here, then book an appointment. Please note that if you were ineligible at some point in the past you may now be able to give as some rules have changed. Take a look!
American? This is your link!
Please go if you’re medically able.
2. Green Shirt Day – Organ Donation
A year ago Logan Boulet helped us have a conversation that we’ve been long overdue to have. At 21 he registered to become an organ donor. After the Humboldt Broncos bus crash they were able to donate his organs to six other patients. Lives were saved because of his selfless choice. To honour his decision and help continue his good work, his parents have created Green Shirt Day to encourage others to register.
We can’t take them with us. We have no use for them after we’ve died, but someone who’s still here might live because we’ve taken action to register to donate. We don’t have a national registry, but this link will connect you to your province or territory’s registry. I have friends who are alive today because they received organs. Leave the world better than you found it. On your way out, give someone else a second chance at life. After you’ve done that, have a conversation with your loved ones to make sure they know your intentions. Registering is quick. If you aren’t sure of your status as a donor, check online and make sure you’ve done what you need to.
3. Ronald McDonald House
When you’re sick you want someone who loves you with you. This is true for adults, but it’s especially true for young ones who need to go to a hospital that’s far away from their home. Ronald McDonald House provides a place to stay for families while their children are receiving care.
Wednesday, May 8th is McHappy Day, and with the purchase of every Happy Meal, Big Mac, and hot McCafé beverage $1 will be donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities. Can’t make it to McDonald’s on Wednesday? No problem. You can donate any time to RMHC with this link. Help keep families together while they’re facing medical challenges.
Americans! Apparently McHappy Day is uniquely Canadian. While I hope that your stores will pick this up in the future, in the meantime you can support Ronald McDonald House in store or with this link.
I love this one and I return to it over and over. It feels especially appropriate at this time of year, with Mother’s Day just around the corner. I can’t tell you how badly I wish I could have just one more new memory with Jude. It would never be enough, but it would be everything. I love the SickKids Get Better Gifts. Throughout the year they’ll recommend different gifts for different occasions, but they also have a full list for you to go through, for anything that might make your heart happy. There’s something for any budget, whether you want to give a kid a break from the hospital with their mom, craft supplies and games, or give to medical supplies or research. It’s all there. Your $20 gift can bring a big smile to someone who’s having a hard time, and when we’re talking about kids in the hospital, that’s pretty amazing.
The idea of Mother’s Day is kicking my butt this year. I’m so glad to have this beautiful way to make it special for other moms and kids who are having a tricky time.
‘About 1.5 million of the children who will die next year will die from diseases that we can prevent with vaccines. ‘ – Melinda Gates
In 2017 we saw The Gates Foundation come together with world leaders and innovators to give us a report card on health. They touched on a wide range of topics and I wrote about their observations and work on child mortality. If you have a few minutes I encourage you to take a look at the post, and if you have a little more time check out the Goalkeepers data report.
Our old favourite ‘Super Hero Pack’ isn’t available anymore, but we love the available options to provide life-saving vaccines to children. You could protect 50 children from the measles, 100 from polio, or 500 from tetanus. You could provide treatment for children with malaria, or a vaccine carrier to keep the vaccines effective until they’re delivered to their destination. All of these options are surprisingly affordable and a reminder that no one is getting rich off vaccines.
In 2016 Jude was one of five million. There are five million stories just from that year that are just as sad and awful as ours, and approximately 1.5 million of them from vaccine preventable diseases. Let’s do better. Let’s contribute to public health and prevent children from contracting these illnesses in the first place.
On December 14, 2012, the unimaginable happened in Newtown, Connecticut. 26 families and a community were changed forever. Please take a few moments to visit My Sandy Hook Family to learn more about each of the 26 lives lost that day. And then I’d love to direct you to The Ana Grace Project. Ana was a beautiful six-year-old girl who loved music and singing and purple and dancing. Ana loved her family and her friends and life. Ana’s life was cut far too short and now her family is working to make the world more beautiful in her memory. The Ana Grace Project is promoting love, community and connection for every child and family through three lead initiatives: partner schools, professional development, and music & arts. Read through their site to learn more about the incredible work they’re doing. I love you, Nelba.
Love wins. ♥
7. Many Hands, Doing Good
Jennifer Neville-Lake. My goodness. This work you are doing in memory of your dad and your kids is so beautiful, and I’m completely blown away by you. Thank you for you. I think of your family often and you’ll be in my heart this week.
In case you haven’t heard about it, I’d love to introduce you to Many Hands, Doing Good. Jennifer created this organization to honour Gary, Milagros, Daniel, and Harrison, by creating opportunities for children who have experienced trauma to explore what these four were so passionate about: music, art, dance, and broadcasting. Do you know a child who could benefit? Please send on the link to Jennifer’s organization, and please support as you’re able.
All the love in the world to you, Jennifer, and to your beautiful family. Now and always. ♥
Jude’s not here. We’ll never know where he would have put his efforts, who he would have wanted to help, what difference he would have made. But we know that our loving, caring, hilarious little boy would have had a huge impact however he would have chosen to. We’re still here, even though some days it feels too heavy to still be walking around when your child is gone. In whatever time is still ahead of us, we’ll do what we can to leave the world a little better than we found it. For Jude, for everyone. We’d love for you to join us and make a difference in whatever way speaks to you. We are strongest when we hold each other up, so we’re going to keep doing that. This week is going to be hard, but together we can make life a little easier for someone else out there, bring someone a smile, make someone’s dream come true, save someone’s life, be someone’s hero.