Happy Birthday, Maddy!

When Maddy turned seven, our family celebrated by beginning a new chapter that was be life changing, helped to raise awareness for those suffering from food allergy, and helped educate people about OIT. Now, as Maddy turns 8, and will begin the 3rd grade, so many possibilities are open to her as a child that doesn't have food allergies standing in her way!

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Check out my other blog, The Best Medicine, about my husband's battle against cancer.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Friend, Dear Friend

Maddy & Livvie

One of my favorite quotes about friendship is “A good friend is cheaper than therapy” (author unknown).  In my life, over a beer, during a car ride, in the classroom, or on the phone, many a conversation have helped me hash out my problems or theirs. My friends are as important as  family and we’ve raised Maddy to believe friendships are not only important, but essential components to a healthy life – expecting her friends to treat her well and to treat her friends the same – by giving and getting love, support, and a sense of belonging. 

The girls playing at the desk.
In our lives together, Jason and I have not only been lucky, but blessed, to have an amazing group of close friends. This remarkable group of people has been a part of our lives since college, some before. At Michigan State we studied together, partied together, and at one time or another, lived together. We’ve stood for each other in weddings and have held each others' newborn babies.  Every time we see each other we hug each other like it has been a decade since we’ve spoken, but pick up conversation as if it was just yesterday. We try to get together when we can but also reserve a few very special days out of the year just for each other, New Year’s Eve, the Fourth of July, and an especially fun day in September.  Even as we age and can hardly handle our adult beverages anymore, we party like 30-something rock stars – stay up late around the fire, argue over politics, religion, or any other controversial topic that may come our way and maintain every bit of love & respect for each other through it all. Even as the group has grown to include new spouses and the occasional neighbor or two, this is our core. Our history. 

Amazing Doc - Doctor Mayer.
Amazing staff - Nurse Amy & Nurse Lety.
Madeline has watched us with this group of friends and others. She has been witness to how we treat our friends, as well as how we expect to be treated in a friendship. Jason and I would do anything for them because our true friends, this group I speak of and others I haven’t even mentioned have been with us through thick and thin, especially in recent years. When Madeline was first born, they were there at the hospital & then the house to hold her little hands. When chemo threatened Jason’s hair, these guys shaved their own heads. When trips back & forth to the oncologist were simply too much - we were given the amazing gift of a cleaning lady to help out with the house - now that's friendship! We are surrounded with beautiful people who hold us in their hearts and them in ours. Friends keep us going at times.

One big happy family!
The beauty is that in watching Madeline experience peanut desensitization, she is learning more about friendships, too. Madeline’s best friend, Conley, will always be her BFF, “till we die” they say and we are sure to keep a regular play date going. But the “peanuts gang” has a different connection that has provided Maddy a chance to show empathy, caring, and support that she has not needed with her BFF so far, but may someday. When Ella graduated she had a chance to see where she was headed with the program. When Izzy had to stop OIT because it was just not working for her, we said prayers, talked about Izzy's feelings, her family and what it might mean for her future. We still do. And when Livvie graduated it was bittersweet. It was hard for Maddy to say good-bye but so awesome for her to see her really great friend moving on to such great things. She wanted nothing more than to be there to see Livvie eat that peanut butter and make sure all was well with that final challenge. Madeline has treated each situation with the dignity and grace of a mini adult; I am impressed and proud of her!

The girls sitting still long enough for a pic!
Maddy has felt nothing but love and support from the staff and patients at Dr. Mayer’s office – exactly what I hope for her in life. Everyone cheers her on - like this time as she went from 250 mg of peanut flour to 500 mg - the last stop before a peanut -  and she does the same for them! The day Livvie graduated was a happy one for everyone – another success story, no problems for Maddy, just another day of playing with friends for Livvie, and just another (exhausting) day at the office for the staff - and another reason to feel hope for those living with food allergies! As the parents bonded over next steps, Maddy, Livvie and the rest of the gang just had fun – because sometimes that’s what it’s all about, too!

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