Mary was assigned to be Cecily's 0-3 Infant Educator. This is likely the best present that God could have granted us. At the time, we didn't understand the purpose of a child having an Educator at the age of 6 months. It seemed wild. But our world was spinning and each day felt like a challenge. Looking back - I now can't imagine NOT having an Infant Educator. We needed Mary and her patience, her comfort and her dedication to ensuring we were providing Cecily with every opportunity possible.
Week after week when Mary would visit I would feel guilty because I would spend all the time talking to her. I felt like I was "stealing" Cecily's time (even though we were talking about her..." I always felt so much better after her visits and It wasn't until we were almost graduating from the Program did I truly appreciate that it was Mary's role to listen, offer advice, and help ensure our family's needs were being met. It wasn't until we were getting close to graduating the program that I truly appreciated all the blessings that program had provided not just to Cecily - but to our entire family, and especially to me. We will be forever in her debt. The only peace I have with her passing is that we let her know how much we loved and treasured her. She is without a doubt one of the biggest blessings in our life and she saved us during a time when we didn't even realize we needed to be saved.
To say she was a gift - is an understatement. She IS a gift. She will remain a gift. She is still a force in our lives and I can hear her calm, patient voice and see her beautiful smile light up when we shared the latest Cecily news. Mary would arrive at the house with her spirit shining and would breathe life in our home. She always included Noah. (Cason was yet to be born). She would speak to Cecily and engage with her even though Cecily seemed to be somewhere else. She always gave Cecily time to process. She believed in her and she waited for her. And Cecily always responded. She would give me endless ideas of things to try for Cecily from picture books, to visual stories, to sign language videos, to classes to embark on and schools to attend. She would listen. She would help me with my struggles of how to balance a healthy two year old boy with an infant that required 100% around the clock care. And boy - did she listen. She just had a way of making everything seem perfect - like it was supposed to be that way.
Mary was present the day we found out Judy, Brien's Mom, passed away. She was present the day I found out I was pregnant with Cason. She was always present. Without Mary, I don't think we would have been inspired to start Cecily's Closet. We were so impressed with Mary and her compassion - and so grateful for the help she provided us and our family - that we wanted to do something loving for others.
While attending Mary's memorial at the Self Realization Fellowship I was in awe of the person Mary was to EVERYONE. We only knew Mary in such a limited capacity but I found from hearing her brothers and sisters talk, and her friends, and co-workers - that we knew what mattered most about Mary - her spirit and her passion for life and the people she cared for. It turns out Mary made everyone feel like he/she was the "most" special. I can attest to this because I always felt like Cecily was her favorite! I laughed at the memorial when someone said the same thing. I knew she has a soft spot in her heart for Cecily but it turns out she had them for everyone! When she was with you she was really with you. She gave you her heart, her time, and her passion. She had a way with children - just like Cecily - and she connected.
Mary always believed in Cecily. It was Mary that scheduled Cecily's first play date with Miss Kate. (We are still friends today). It was Mary who got Cecily engaged in horse-riding. (We still ride today). It was Mary that made Cecily one of her most favorite books - a visual story about her swimming. And it was Mary who attend the swimming class to see Cecily and her brother in yet another environment.
Even though we graduated from the HOPE Infant Program two years ago - we would still send Mary updates because we knew it was because of Mary that Cecily was doing so well. She provided our family with what we needed during that challenging time. She provided hope. She provided love. And she had faith in us that we would be able to weather all the storms and be the source of strength and light for Cecily. Mary provided us with the foundation required to raise a child with special needs and see the blessings - not the challenges.
We are so sad that Mary has passed but we know her light and spirit will live on. Thank you Mary for providing us with the roadmap required for our journey. I know you will continue to guide us from above.
Her dedicated family has set up a scholarship in her memory.
Mary's Lasting Gift
RBCPC Preschool is a school where all children can receive a loving, inclusive preschool education. It was a special place for Mary and it is a community that will be forever enhanced by Mary's passionate dedication.
Donations can be sent to:
Sharing Lives Program
17010 Pomerado Rd
San Diego CA 92128
In the mom section please add: Mary's Lasting Gift
Onwards and upwards!