Remember Joey Caretti? My girlfriend Lisa's boy? He's still struggling as you'll read in her recent update, but when asked what he wants for Christmas this year, he responded that he wants to reach out to help someone else.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
Dear Friends & Family,
It will almost be a year now that Joey Rang the Bell at Children's Hospital and celebrated the end of his long and painful treatment for his brain tumor. Just two weeks after that we found out he had Leukemia, caused from the very treatments that were suppose to save his life.
I had decided I would make this Christmas very special. Last year I could not muster up the strength to put up the tree or many decorations, knowing Joey would be going through chemo again and then have his transplant. Several weeks ago I started asking the kids what they wanted for Christmas this year, thinking I would be clever and do all my shopping early (this never happened). Richard and Maggie each gave me a few good ideas, but Joey remained quiet. I asked him again and he said he had enough of everything. I said there has to be something you want and he shook his head no and said he was spoiled and does not deserve anything. I said "Joey, you are most deserving! You never ask for anything and we want to do something to bring you happiness." I let the subject drop, but later that night he came up to me crying. He said "I am ready to tell you now why I don't want anything for Christmas. Do you remember when we were at the hospital last year and we saw that little boy all burnt up in a wheelchair?" Instantly I knew what he was referring to although we had never spoken of it. "I had been in a bad mood, feeling sorry for myself and that boy was so happy and said hi to me even though his face was all melted and he had no hands. I was so ashamed of myself. That boy will be that way all his life. He will never have hands or be able to run and play. Look at me! I have only had a few surgeries but one day I will be all done with this but he never will! Everyone sent me all those cards and gifts but his parents did not look like they even had much. So now I think about him every single day of my life. Can't we send him my gifts?"
I was crying too hard to speak. I had no idea he had been thinking about that little boy and I told him I did not know how to find that child but we could find other children in need and brighten their Christmas.
So this year I will make the house as cheerful and as festive as possible for both Thanksgiving and Christmas (and every day). We will celebrate being together and as we continue to pray for Joey we will not forget all the other children that need our love and prayers.
Joey's doctors felt that the GVHD (Graft vs Host Disease) was getting too bad and he was put back on steroids. We are praying that he will not suffer any bad side effects from this. His rash is much better however he has been getting headaches again. Not as bad as before, but bad enough to not want to get out of bed. It does seem that as soon as one issue is cleared up, another appears, but I remain positive that he will very soon feel great. That he will have a wonderful Christmas, be able to keep up with school and see his friends on a regular basis.
I want to thank each of you for all you do for my family. Your prayers, emails, food, cards to Joey, gifts...the list goes on. I could have NEVER had made it this far without all of you.
Last holiday season, 40,000 people answered the call when I held a get well card drive for Joey. Messages of love, hope, prayers and more came from all the world. It was truly an amazing experience that reached far beyond the recipient. So many senders told me just sending a card awoke feelings of gratefulness. Those who helped process the cards from the post office to my doorstep and into Joey's hands were all moved beyond words.
Who will you reach out and touch this holiday season with a call, a card, an act of kindness, a gift or the gift of time? There are thousands of Joeys -- young and old -- who need to be shown our loving spirit.
I'd love to hear who you will reach out and touch this season. Here's some places to start if you need to figure out who or what organization you are going to help?
- local churches
- homeless shelters
- nursing homes
- children's hospitals
- a neighbor who is housebound
- a family member who isn't as blessed as you
My husband and I have chosen to provide Christmas gifts for orphaned kids in Michigan through Big Family of Michigan -- specifically, the teen boys that most people don't enjoy buying for. If you are interested in this program, you can contact Jeanne Fowler at Big Family through the information on their website.
Lisa Caretti is the published author of Whistle in the Dark-a suspense/thriller. She grew up in Detroit and now resides in Washington Township, Michigan with her husband, three children and two rescue dogs. In addition to helping manage her husband's different marketing firms, Lisa is the founder of a non-profit organization called The Healing Nest, which supports women with cancer. Lisa enjoys the writings of John Standford, Sue Grafton and Linda Howard. She is currently working on her next book The Last to Know. Read more about her at LisaCaretti.com or find her on Facebook here.