A message from Alyssa's Mommy to the Fluvanna County High School Class of 2020. Many of these students have been wonderful volunteers for The Alyssa House, extending their kindness and compassion to the children we serve.
Thank you for opening your hearts to Alyssa and our Alyssa House kids. 💙
"Dear FCHS Class of 2020,
I have wanted to thank you for years and I couldn’t ever come up with a way to do that. So, here goes.
Way back when you kiddos were just third, fourth and fifth graders, you let me enter your world as I came to school with Alyssa each day she was able to attend. I played wheelchair tag with you on the playground, I opened fruit cups at lunch, I answered honest questions about cancer and I rejoiced in your care for my daughter.
Some of you (K’Juan) asked repeatedly for the privilege of pushing Alyssa’s wheelchair. Some asked if it was okay to join us in play or at lunch. Others stood nearby wondering how to help. Some of you wore her Live Alyssa Live T-shirt to bed or to school. Some put “Live Alyssa Live” magnets on your lockers and bracelets on your wrists. Some of you drew pictures or held fundraisers - or helped make a quilt. Some of you were in videos for her or helped her ride a horse and still others sang songs dedicated to her. Some of you prayed faithfully for Alyssa’s body to be rid of cancer. To my parent’s heart, you were always trying to be kind to the little bald girl with the limp… and then the little bald girl with one leg.
In the midst of a situation which was probably very confusing and scary to your young minds and hearts, you responded with compassion and care.
Thank you. Thank you so much.
The last day Alyssa was able to attend school prior to her terminal diagnosis was September 19, 2012. That happened to be the day the middle school set aside during September, Childhood Cancer Awareness month, to wear blue (Alyssa’s favorite color) or gold (the color of childhood cancer awareness), both of the FLUCO colors. So many of you showed up wearing your blue and gold. You wore those string bracelets your classmates made, you showed off the magnets on your lockers, the shirts you had, the rubber Live Alyssa Live bracelets and everyone said, “Hi” to Alyssa that day.
She even got to eat lunch with a group of her besties. You made a powerful impression on her that day. How do I know?
Alyssa had to leave school a little early that day to go to yet another doctor’s appointment. As I opened the front door of the school for her to wheel herself out, she said something to me that I have wanted to share with you for years. Alyssa looked back over her shoulder as I followed her out and said, “You know, Mommy, I had no idea so many people cared about me.”
You did that.
You made her feel special.
You made her feel loved and cared about and seen.
In a world that was cruel and unfair, you helped her to know she mattered.
Thank you. Thank you so much.
As you move to the next phase of your life, wherever that might take you, I hope you might hold on to this. Whatever you do, whatever challenges may come – even cancer – even cancer in your child – while you may not be able to change the outcome, you can always offer compassion and care. You can let people know they matter – just as you did for Alyssa. You showed up.
You cared about Alyssa. She saw it. I saw it. I see it still in the thoughtful way you wanted to include her in the yearbook and the ribbons you planned to wear on your sleeves at graduation.
It mattered. You mattered.
As so many of you are rightly grieving the losses that come with this pandemic, I want to encourage you to continue to be your resilient selves that care about the world around you. I want you to carry a little bit of Alyssa’s spirit with you to play the hand you are dealt with grace, strength and dignity. She rarely complained... except to say she missed her old life... her friends... you. It’s okay to miss what you had. Then, Live Alyssa Live... Live the life before you with as much love as possible.
For your parents, I cannot imagine the grief of watching your senior suffer through this. (Alyssa’s losses were many - but different). I connect because it is never easy to watch your child hurt. I hope that you can and will recover many of these events and moments when this is over because you still have your Senior... and that is the most important piece of this. That’s why enduring these losses is so essential... to keep our beloveds alive.
For me, Alyssa will never have another group of people who went to school with her... no other school connected to her in the future. No future classmates. Thus, you become even more precious to us. You all are IT for us... a part of our hearts in ways I hope you never have to understand. I am forever grateful for the ways you have held Alyssa in your hearts. I hope you continue to remember her and that she inspires you in some way to live your best life.
Because you chose to be kind, you chose to honor her, you chose to remember and include her, you made a huge difference not just in Alyssa’s life, but in the life of her family. Thank you.
Thank you, Fluvanna County High School Class of 2020. I wish more than anything Alyssa were here to miss these moments with you... but I trust maybe she does... because somehow she’s safely tucked away in your hearts.
Alyssa’s (and Lexie’s) Mommy