Ariana was named after the daughter of one of our Representatives who, at a trying time for their family, showed tremendous inner strength by staying at her sister Alyssa’s bedside. We named this Shell in honor of her and all women who stand by those whom they love in times of trial.
Ariana and Alyssa’s mom, Patricia, shares their family story:
My name is Patricia, and my inspiration for writing this are my daughters Alyssa and Ariana. Alyssa was diagnosed with ALL [Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia] on November 5th, 2007—the day our lives changed forever. Alyssa was scheduled to get three years of vigorous chemotherapy. As you could imagine, we were all scared for her. She was only 6 years old when the doctors tried to explain this to all of us. The hardest part was watching her lose her hair on her birthday—November 25th, 2007.This was the first time I’d seen my child not wanting to have a party or have friends and family over. She wasn’t interested in opening her gifts or having cake. But somehow she got past all that, and accepted her fate.
Alyssa would have talks with me, and tell me she wanted to have wings as pretty as butterflies, and be able to fly all the way to heaven. As you can imagine it was beautiful in a sense, and heart wrenching at the same time. I wondered if God had talked with her, and told her that she wasn’t going to make it through the treatments. Did she know something we didn’t know?
As most of these children do, she endured many infections as well as pneumonia, and suffered two strokes. She was then unable to do things for herself. She couldn’t talk, walk, eat, or drink anymore. We weren’t able to hear Alyssa’s beautiful voice ever again or those special words that she loved to say was: “I love you whole bunches” and ”Bald is beautiful.” I’m reminded every day of how precious these words are to me. Through all this, I have become a prayer warrior for a lot of children who have all types of cancer.
My daughters have taught me to never take life for granted and to always tell those around you how much you love them. Ariana, my oldest, was 16 at the time her sister was suffering through this. Sixteen can be a hard age for anyone, but it’s much harder when a loved one is passing away. Ariana was always by Alyssa’s side. We were living on God’s grace, mercy, and the comfort of his safe and loving arms. We were shown so much love throughout our community and will always be grateful for that.
On February 26, 2009, Alyssa passed away. She finally received her beautiful wings.