Around the end of winter last year, it was like my stomach had an internal clock that was buzzing like my snooze on a Monday morning. It was time for minty chocolatey goodness. Creamy caramel and coconut perfection. Sweet, yet just the right amount of tart, bright lemon. That’s right, it was Girl Scout Cookie season. New to the area, I needed to find “My Girl Scout” to sell me those familiar, yet sorely missed boxes of cookies. I decided to post on a local neighborhood page, asking if there was a local troop that could support my cookie addiction. Our neighbor messaged us, and let us know she had just the girl, as one of her friends had a daughter who was a Girl Scout!
I took the name, messaged the fellow Mom, placed my (way too big) cookie order, and counted down the days. For some reason, that year’s cookies seemed to be a bit delayed (okay, maybe I was just in a hurry to eat my weight in cookies), but that delay allowed me to connect with a likeminded mom in our community. We chatted a little here and there after I checked on the cookies. A few (painful) weeks later, I got a message that my cookies would be delivered that evening. I hurried home in anticipation of my long-lost friends, and couldn’t have been more excited when the doorbell rang.
Standing there with her mom was a sweet, lanky brunette girl, hands full of cookies. She quietly greeted me, and of course me being the always busy, loud woman I am, quickly invited them in our house, and started digging for my check book. I don’t really remember the small talk we made, but I remember thinking I needed to stay in touch with this mom because I bet this quiet little girl, with wonder in her eyes, would make a great baby sitter someday. The one thing I will always remember, is telling this little girl that she was now my permanent Girl Scout Cookie Saleswoman, and that I was a very loyal buyer, so she needed to come back next year.
Next year never came.
Fast forward to about 6 months later, it was August 22nd, and I had noticed a Facebook status that My Girl Scout wasn’t feeling so well, and had made a visit to the local emergency room. That ER visit turned in to a trip to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. A few days later I was aimlessly looking through Facebook, and I read the status that no parent ever wanted to write. My Girl Scout, this 12-year-old sweet little girl with big, beautiful brown eyes was diagnosed with an epithelial hepatoblastoma (the scariest way to say liver cancer) that had also spread to the lungs.
Three weeks later, My Girl Scout was still battling this terrible disease. A close friend and I were talking about making a last-minute weekend road trip to Little Rock. While we were both new to the area, and didn’t know the family well, but we figured that us moms should stick together. We wanted to personally put together a few gifts for My Girl Scout, her mom, dad and brother, as we could only imagine what it would be like to be in this position. Honestly, we didn’t want to imagine being in this position, so it felt like the least we could do.
Those plans quickly changed. 22 days after not feeling well, this terrible, awful, no good childhood liver cancer took My Girl Scout away too soon. 22 days of tremendous fight, but unfortunately childhood cancer is relentless and ruthless.
Sunday, September 17 was the day we were supposed to be driving back from our quick road trip to Little Rock. The day started out with a little bit of sun, but the afternoon turned chilly, grey, and rainy. It was the day of My Girl Scouts memorial service. I felt strange going, but we are a community. Us Moms should stick together. I found a Girl Scout Green shirt, and a black sweater in my closet. I went to stand with my close friend, my neighbors, and my community as we helped her parents celebrate her life.
The rain cleared up a bit on the way home, and as I was getting out of my car, I saw a preying mantis on the back window. Normally, bugs aren’t my thing but I went inside, scooped up my little boy, and we marveled at the sight of this creature for a long time. Maddy sent that reminder to me.
Maddy was an extremely bright student at a local Jr. High. A lover of all creatures, she wanted to be a vet or zoologist when she grew up. As a 6-year member of the Girl Scouts, she worked hard to volunteer at the local animal shelter, protect the environment, and enjoy all of life’s creations from the smallest of bugs to the biggest of the animal kingdom. She loved the local Bella Vista Rocks! Community and could often be found with her little brother searching and hiding painted rocks left by the community.
While her time on Earth may have been way too short, her impact on our community was larger than life. Maddy has made me become a better Mom. I have put down the phone, the lap top, and turned off the television. I have taken more time to entertain the curiosity and spirit of all the little creatures, human, fur, or otherwise, around me each day. When I feel myself wanting to say, “there’s just not enough time, we need to hurry up,” I quickly pause and remember that there will never be enough time. So, savor every moment. I have learned to be a part of the community and step out of my comfort zone. I have signed up for meal trains for families in need, reached out to moms going through the ultimate struggle of watching their baby go through the unthinkable, just to say, “I know it hurts Momma, but keep your head up because you’re doing a great job.” It doesn’t matter how well we know one another, we are a community of moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, siblings, and when one of us hurts, we all hurts.
I couldn’t bring myself to buy cookies this year. I am a loyal shopper, and they just aren’t the same if they’re not from My Girl Scout. In fact, I still have one of last year’s boxes from Maddy in the cabinet. Another reminder to stop, and enjoy the little things. I think I’m going to keep them there for a while. Thank you, Maddy, for your constant reminder to enjoy the world around me, and soak in every second I have with my little guy, our fur babies, and my family. I’d say rest in peace, but I know you are too busy exploring and soaring with the angles.