My best friend, Jan, lost her grandson to leukemia 6 years ago. Had he been able to beat his disease, he would now be 17......how time flies by! Jonnie was the grandson of my heart, as Jan is the sister of my heart. We don't forget him - many of our conversations are filled with anecdotes and "remember whens" about the bigger-than-life boy who captured our hearts, and still lives within them.
Not only was Jonnie bigger than life, he was bursting with it! The sparkle in his eyes, his smile, his insatiable curiosity and depth of his love for others transcended his young age.
Jan and I commemorate his birthday each year by traveling to a little beach town up the coast from where we live. We stop in the flower shop and buy red balloons (they were his favorite), then park and take a walk on the beach. When we're ready, we let the balloons go and send them on their way, each filled with our love, memories, and celebration of Jonnie's life.
We then go into town and have some of the world's best pizza at a little restaurant....afterwards, we head to the outlet center that is on our way home, and begin our holiday shopping for our grandchildren who are still with us. Tomorrow is our "Jonnie's Day". I'm sure that Jonnie is watching us from afar, and that he approves!
If you are interested, the following is his website: www.jonniescharity.com. It was created by his other grandmother and tells the story of his journey with this terrible disease, how hard he fought it, and how he "made lemonade from lemons" by starting his own charity to help other kids with cancer - he was truly an incredible, inspiring young man.
And, please consider becoming a blood donor - you could truly save someone's life!