Saturday, July 22, 2006

This one’s for Paigey…

In a world filled with grief and pain, the type that can turn a family upside down and make them feel as though they are about to drown, few ways seem left to surface and drink in air again.
When the Marquez family lost their sparkling 4-year-old Paige -- fished from their lives by a radical brain tumor which swamped her brain stem and later rippled along her spinal cord, the holes and gaps left behind were so enormous, it seemed they’d never be seamed together again.
The only trouble was, when you talk to the family, you know that “Paigey” wouldn’t want it that way.
Before she became ill, she had boundless energy accompanied by a sense of compassion and caring unusual to most four-year-olds, her parents, Cheryl and Tim, told me when I interviewed them and tried to make absolute sense out of such a loss when there is no logic to be had.
Paige left the family behind with these sharp, but crucial memories which would lead them on a new path:
--If a fight broke out, she would wave her arms at everyone and tell the family: “Guys, stop fighting. Stop fighting.”
--When someone wasn’t well, she turned into a family caregiver, rubbing the backs of her brother, Joseph, 8, or sister, Blake, 6. She’d care for her mom and dad in the same way.
--As family members streamed to the hospital (Cheryl stayed with her every night) they would burst into tears or start crying. That made her angry. She told them to stop. Paige only cried in the hospital when she was in extreme pain.

It’s been one year since one Paige Lauren Marquez left all of us in a snap when she told doctors to stop. She was too tired to continue the series of treatments, the poking and pinching, the medicines.
It’s been one year since the family realized that Paige would want them to heal, want them to go on, and more than anything, help other children with catastrophic illnesses. Sometimes in life, people are telling us what they want us to do the whole time – just by their own actions.
I honestly believed Paige did this for her family. She left them a simple list: stop fighting, take care of others, stop crying.
On July 15, the entire Marquez family (including cousins, uncles and aunts) held a huge, dinner fundraiser in Paige’s memory in San Pedro, California with all proceeds being donated to the groups that helped their daughter: Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center at Millers Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation.
The goal was to raise $10,000. At this point, nearly $17,000 (and more keeps pouring in) have swamped the memorial fund. Often just when people see Paige’s picture – her gurggling smiles and mischievous eyes – they whip out their check books. You just can’t help it when you look at her photo – her eyes and smiles tell you what to do.
If your heart so incline’s you, look up to give donations to this site or call (310) 892-3503.
I couldn’t help giving myself. I knew Paige would want me too.
And Paigey…to you specifically: you are “somewhere over the rainbow…with skies of blue and clouds of white…where trouble melts like lemon drops…”
Thank you for helping other kids. It’s that simple.