September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Today is National Daughter Day.
This Saturday, over the final weekend of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I will take on Ironman Maryland. It is a personal life goal, but really, it is the culmination of 7 years of sweat and tears shed to power through my daughter’s battle and my family’s journey fighting childhood cancer. As we close in on the milestone of 5 years out from treatment when hopefully Lily will become a survivor, nothing short of this event could provide the release of overwhelming emotions – fear, hope, rage, gratitude, sadness, awe – churning within. I can’t falter a step when I think of my own daughter’s unwavering strength and heroic bravery even at age 3. My efforts will also be dedicated to another truly incredible child. Mariah Cooper moved the heart and soul of Riprap Friends, and if she had not lost her courageous fight with cancer over the summer, she would be turning 5 on Saturday.
Everyone saw and knew what Christina and RipRap meant to Mariah. She was her big sister, and everyone knows her as Mariah’s big sister. They were together for all of it, she never left, and Mariah loved her so much. We are so grateful to RipRap, and we want more children to have what Mariah had and what we will always have. – Mariah’s Parents
Please consider supporting the meaningful experiences Riprap can provide for children like Mariah. Any amount goes a long way in growing Riprap’s ability to reach more children. Support Riprap!
Before RipRap introduced me to Mariah almost exactly a year ago, I didn’t believe in soul mates. But in a way that is difficult to put to words, I knew after a few times of seeing her that we were, in a very special and rare way, soul mates. Mariah was a child who was never meant for this earth. She was made of so much bigger and brighter and wilder and deeper things.
Her love, for life and her family and me and dogs and any other living thing and doughnuts and pickles and the color blue, was fierce and relentless. She had the fearless tenacity and precocious gumption of a child, and an empathy, wisdom and selflessness that exceeded that of any adult I’ve ever known. She was strong in the face of pain no one should ever endure and was soft and warm in her grace for those she loved. We all talk about how she was inarguably her most strikingly beautiful, powerful and, honestly regal, towards the end, when her body was merely a fleeting vessel for a soul that transcended it with its blinding brightness.
We continue to love each other, to love fully and deeply and without fear even when it is scary or hurts. And we dream and create and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and stand in the sun a little longer than usual and push our healthy bodies the extra mile knowing that she would be furious if we didn’t . Which is why this Iron Man, Tracey’s own journey of blood, sweat and tears, is such a fitting testament to Mariah and to RipRap, journeys that are all about grit and strength and brutal battles and transcending the physical limitations by reaching deep down and high up for something greater to drive us on and lead us to the finish line.
Losing Mariah has broken my heart into a million pieces, but I’m learning that the best way for us to honor her is not to try to put the pieces back together or get swept below by the brokenness, but to let the fierce, bright sunshine sparkle and shimmer through the cracks. Saturday, we celebrate what would have been her fifth birthday, and as we run and laugh and swim and cry and take deep breaths of the newly cool September air, she is here with us, and I hope and believe that she is whole and free and smiling out of satisfaction for teaching us so well. – Christina
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