This morning I woke up early, missing you… and I came downstairs, made a cup of coffee, turned on all the beautiful twinkling lights on our Christmas trees, and looked at the five stockings hung on our fireplace mantel. There’s a unicorn for your little sister, who is now the same age as you were when you left this Earth, a choo choo train for the little brother you never got to meet, and a gorgeous angel with white wings and a tutu (of course!) for you, sweet girl. Your stocking will be filled this year, just like it has been the last two years, with your favorite things… princesses and My Little Pony, glitter, a green mermaid, and other little odds and ends that we know you would love to find tucked inside. But you won’t be here to open it. Last year your little sister excitedly opened all the gifts for you, while your daddy hid back the tears, and  I cried openly. I know this year will most likely be a repeat of the same.

Three short years ago was our last Christmas with you, while we watched the cancer take over your little body, but your spirit fought on, determined to open Christmas presents and smile for the camera, our little Christmas miracle. I want to ask other parents, “What would you do if you knew it was your child’s last Christmas?”

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We had exhausted all the options to defeat the neuroblastoma staking its’ claim on your body, and doctors around the country telling us, ‘take her home, enjoy her.’ So we did. We brought you home, we decorated the house, we had play dates, and took you to your beloved preschool when you felt well. We snuck in a trip to Disney World, even though an infection cut the trip short…but we tried to fill as much joy and living and laughter and most importantly, LOVE, in those last days.

So on Christmas, when you waved your hand and said to give all your presents to the other kids on the oncology floor, your heart as big as an ocean, we promised we would.

This year marks our third annual Teeja’s Toy Drive for children and their families fighting cancer over the holidays. Our trunks are stuffed all the way to the top with books, games, crafts, toys, and more to bring a little bit of cheer to other children facing cancer. We hope we are making you proud, sweetheart.

We love you and our hearts are forever missing you. Merry Christmas, Teeja!

Featured Photo Courtesy: Tana Johnson