Dear Desirae Ava Grace Cechin,
This is my love letter and thank you note to you, beautiful angel.
In May of 2014 I received a call from a friend of mine asking if there was any way I could possibly help a local girl who had been diagnosed with a cancer called neuroblastoma. Is there really any other answer than yes when this question is presented to you?
After that yes was spoken, I panicked. What did I know about helping a child in this situation? What did I know about supporting a family whose life had just taken a turn down a frightening, dark road?
I didn’t know much, but what I did know is that I lived in a community where there were the most giving people you could imagine. You see, while my husband and I were away on a vacation in France, our pet sitter of 5 years “lost” our precious dog Bogey. While my husband and I fell to our knees helplessly an ocean away, the community we live in, spearheaded by my sister-in-law, came together and searched tirelessly for our Bogey. They spent their own money, took time out from their work days, spread the information near and far, and relentlessly persevered to try and find our dog when they didn’t even know us at all.
Our Community was good, that’s what I knew.
So off I dove into the social media world with Facebook posts and emails. The owners of Smokin’ Burgers immediately agreed to hold a fundraiser for you, Desi. The word went out and help poured in through emails and Facebook. Desi, you don’t know this but because of you I met the most loving and giving people who have become my friends. These are people who have enriched my life and given it so much happiness. I have you to thank for that, precious Desi. In fact, my dearest friend and princess partner was one of the very first to offer her help for the Smokin’ Burgers fundraiser. You see, Desi, you brought Teresa into my life, a gift I hold close to my heart.
But the gifts you gave me didn’t stop there.
After experiencing the outpouring of support from STA jets flying you on your first ever flight to a doctor visit in New York, to Mr. Matzner and Dr. Camacho working with Sloan Kettering on your behalf, to media coverage, and other businesses stepping up to do fundraisers, I was finally able to witness first hand your powerfully beautiful zest for life.
The moment you walked into the room the light shone brighter, the air became lighter, and like the warmth of the sun’s ray on a chilly day, you touched everyone’s hearts. Where uncertainty hung and sadness dripped from each person, you magically replaced all that with hope and lightheartedness by simply smiling.
With each silly face, song you sung, and dance move you showed us, we learned how to live life to its fullest. You taught us how to laugh in the face of evil and stick our tongues out at the sign of despair.
Down each frightening path, you skipped.
Through each dark night, you emanated light.
The gifts you gave us are priceless.
On March 16, 2016, on my son’s 25th birthday, you took your last breath. Not that I ever, ever would forget you, but to say goodbye to you on the date I said hello to my son, for me, seems poetic. You will always be on my mind, but now, on the day when my heart beats the proudest it will beat even prouder because a piece of your spirit has entwined deep within. Be thankful for what you have, you whispered to me in my heart as you left. Yes, Desi, I will. I will, also, be grateful for you touching my life and teaching me more in two years than I have learned in 52.
The gifts; they are ongoing.
With your family and friends starting the Desi Strong Foundation, your courage is not silenced. Your spirit remains unquenched and gently hugs each sponsored family with hope, faith, and love.
Perhaps, when each doll is placed in the hands of a child battling a fight similar to yours, they can hear you sing, feel your dance moves, and breathe in your warm light to keep them strong and fearless.
Thank you, Desi, for showing the world what pure love and joy truly looks like.
Thank you for being a never-ending gift to us all.