The Power of Good Cookies
For years during Liam’s battle, the blog that Larry and I maintained called Prince Liam the Brave was our way of keeping people who loved and cared for him up to speed on how he was doing. It was our way of answering questions without vocally having to answer questions and gave us a little bubble to live in where people knew what was going on and also knew not to ask.
His fight lasted four years which went as slowly as it went quickly. Four years is a long time to live on the edge in a state of suspended animation. Our lives hung in the balance of a test result. Good scans would give you a 90-day lease on life. Bad scans would plunge you back into battle. It’s a surreal existence and drilled in me the importance of living in the moment. It’s also probably why I have a hard time planning too far ahead today. It feels like I’m taking life for granted if I do.
And then Liam died.
And the world stopped.
Ella kept it turning. Ella allows us to live. Liam keeps us grounded. Liam reminds us about what’s important.
If you’re wondering if we get signs from Liam, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that we do. The thing about signs is that you need to leave yourself open to receive them.
I’ve waited a long time for the time to feel right to get back to writing. In the early days, you just don’t know how you’re going to survive let alone live and the only words I probably would have written were ones associated with a black hole of sadness and anger. On the occasions that I’ve thought about writing, I was afraid that grief had blurred my writing lens. Could I write something meaningful or would my writing be like a rudderless ship floating in the ocean?
Which brings me to today. (Consider this a test drive.)
Let’s get one thing out of the way. You never stop missing, you never stop grieving, and you never stop wondering if it was just a terrible dream. I’m not writing today because I’m done grieving. Losing a child is not something you ever recover from. You just learn how to carry the rock. Some days it feels like a boulder and others more like a pebble. But it’s always there. I’m writing because there are stories to share….stories of people who go above and beyond to be part of the solution. Stories of people who are new, have been on the journey for more than 10 years, have passed the cookie spatula to others but who all give me the energy to keep moving forward.
When we embarked on the whole 96,000 cookie baking odyssey, it wasn’t for Liam who, at the time, had no signs of cancer. It was for other kids who needed better treatments. It was for the greater good because if there was something we could do and didn’t, that just seemed unacceptable. It’s the thing about the work we do that I still find completely mind-blowing – every dollar counts and something as simple as a bake sale can make an impact on something as big and scary as cancer. It’s truly a David and Goliath story line but the crazy thing is, it works. There are more than two dozen treatments available today that you have had a hand in helping make possible.
At some point during the heat of covid, when people were still masked and gloved and going to extremes like sanitizing every grocery store item, I saw a headline that scared me to the core. The headline said that more than a third (38% to be exact) of all U.S. nonprofits are in jeopardy of closing because of the impact on fundraising during covid. Can you imagine one-third of all nonprofits in the U.S. gone? Needless to say, as someone who knows there’s still work to be done to support funding research for less toxic treatments for kids fighting the #1 disease killer in the U.S., it was an unsettling headline to read. But here’s where the story gets good.
In 2020, during a global pandemic when social distancing and quarantines were in place, the number of grassroots events held on our behalf by supporters of all ages GREW by more than 35%. No, I’m not kidding and that’s not a typo - they GREW! I mean…if you had told me in 2019 there would be a global pandemic that would turn the world upside down and we would have people running towards us to help, I never would have believed you. And that growth confirmed what I have known for a long time: If you make people aware, they will help.
We saw events registered in all 50 states, new countries joined the roster, and people got creative to find ways around pandemic restrictions. We had to keep reprinting materials because there were so many people who answered the call to help. And as has been the case for many years, people thanked us for giving them the opportunity to help. It’s always one of those paradoxes that never ceases to amaze me – people thank us when we are the ones who are so grateful for their support.
But what I think people were responding to was the sense of community that has always been at the core of who we are. We are a community. We welcome everyone. We help each other. We support all types of pediatric cancers. We support the strongest science. We support the centers that are leading the charge in scientific advances which become treatments for kids across the U.S. We MATCH what the federal government gives for each child enrolled in the most cutting-edge treatments at 21 pediatric cancer hospitals across the country. And we do it one dollar at a time. It’s not just lip service when we say that every dollar counts. Every dollar truly does count.
Whether you’re new or have been part of the Good Cookie family for years, we’d love to have you join us in 2022. We’re doing good things. It’s working. And the power of a Good Cookie has never been more important.
- Gretchen Witt