Rebecca's Gift: A New Charity I Hope You'll Donate To.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 12.06% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I’m gonna tell you about a new charity, but first I have to tell you an ugly truth about kids fighting terminal illnesses:
Sometimes they die.
And when they die, sometimes the whole family goes terminal in their wake.
Which is to say that losing a child is a terrible math – you had three kids, once. Now you have two. Even answering an innocuous question like, “So how many kids do you have?” becomes an awkward thing, because by saying “Two” you’re quietly burying the memory of your dead child, but by saying “Three” you’re making things awkward in otherwise-light conversation, and Jesus how do you define your life?
Your family’s rhythm is broken.  You buy lollipops out of habit, before remembering the only person who liked lollipops is now gone.  Your kids, traumatized by having all their time scheduled in between the sick child’s treatments, now have too much free time, and the three-kid dynamic is now different and they’re not sure how to play with each other without Her in between to play peacemaker.
And all those places you used to go to heal as a family are now saturated with the wrong kinds of memories.  That ice cream shop you’d treat the kids to when they were good? Now you look at the wall, see her favorite flavor, realize she’ll never eat it again.  You want to go out with your old family friends, but sometimes they freak out at death and you actually lose support after the death, crappy as that is.
And your spouse, well, when you lose a kid it’s harder to look at the person you love.  There’s a feeling of failure saturating this household, that sense that somebody should have done something, and it’s not fair but you want to blame someone.  Maybe you blame yourself, withdraw from your spouse, self-destruct.  Maybe you blame them, snap at them, because God’s too far away to yell at and you’re exhausted from constantly fighting your kid’s disease for a year, two years, five years.
I’ve heard that the divorce rate skyrockets after you lose a child.  I believe it. Sometimes that death punches a hole in your family, and you flywheel apart because you don’t know how to redefine yourself as a unit without them.  Because you’re in your house, with a family that has to redefine itself, surrounded by all the things that used to bring you happiness but now feel like anchors to old memories.
You need to get out to somewhere new to find joy.
Rebecca’s Gift wants to help. By giving families like these a vacation.
Because when my blessed goddaughter Rebecca died, I watched the Meyers struggle – and what helped them the most to regain their footing as a family was going down to New Jersey and forming some newer and happier memories.  To remember that even in the wake of this grief, there were still good times to be had.
To go somewhere new, as a family, and explore who they were now.
And I think of poorer families, who can’t move and can’t go anywhere, and think of how Rebecca’s Gift is going to help them.
Look.  After the child dies, the official assistance often dissolves.  It’s sexy for charities to go, “This kid’s on the brink!  They might live if you chip in!  Donate now!”  But after?  All of that assistance packs up and leaves – if you’re lucky, you get a grief counsellor to spackle over the cracks – and yet there you are, with children who are ripped open from watching their sister or brother die before them, and no assistance to be found.
Grief is its own disease.  And so I ask, if you have a few bucks to spare or a platform to mention Rebecca’s Gift on, give a dollar and/or donate your retweets and reblogs.
There are surviving children, surviving parents, who might just be able to support each other if they can remember the joys of being a family again.  Rebecca’s Gift is going to do its damndest to help ensure that these families make it together. And anything you can do to lend a hand, I assure you, would be a mitzvah.
Thanks for doing what you can.

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