Sunday, November 3, 2013

Toronto for the Weekend

I'm sitting in a ballroom in Canada watching as 180+ people celebrate a 12 year old girl. For those of you who don't know, I had the honor of spending the weekend with my parents in Toronto for Makayla Goodman's Bat Mitsvah. Makayla and her family came into our lives about ten years ago when my mom got a call telling her she was an almost perfect match for someone who needed bone marrow. It wasn't until after my mom agreed to donate that we found out that the "someone" was a baby girl in Canada. Years after that, we finally met the people who are now precious members of our family, and we are so lucky to be able to spend this day with them.


Right now, the DJ is playing "Celebrate!" and we are not taking that command lightly! TONS of Makayla's friends and rocking the dance floor accompanied by the largest extended family I've ever seen. While this is a party celebrating Makayla's turning 13 and what that means in the Jewish faith, there is so much more to what we are celebrating. There was a time when Melissa and Ian, Mak's awesome parents, didn't know if they would be able to have this celebration. You see, Makayla was born without an immune system. She was put into reverse isolation at 6 months and stayed there for the next 10 months of her life. Only 4 members of her family were allowed to see her and care for her. During that ten months, her family did everything they could possibly do while they waited for a bone marrow match to be found. Since the day of the transplant, which was an absolute success, Makayla and her family have created a life full of lots of love, family, and loud never ending laughter.

Makayla had the religious ceremony of her Bat Mitsvah a few months ago, tonight is the reception. We (both sides of Makayla's family and mine) spent all morning with hair and make up, then we headed to the hotel where a photographer took pictures of everyone. This part of the night felt very similar to a wedding reception. After the pictures, the guests started arriving in droves. Can I just tell you, this is by far the fanciest party I've ever been invited to and its for a twelve year old. All the men are wearing suits and ties and the women are in gorgeous dresses. *Do not underestimate the amount of glitz and glamour in these dresses and shoes. It was amazing.* There is a DJ, a digital photo booth, red carpet-esque picture background, popcorn bar, lights, cameras and professional dancers to get the crowd going. Makayla, her parents, and her good friends gave speeches and then Makayla smashed a cake with a rubber mallet. I'm not sure if this was Jewish custom or just fun, but either way it was great. It's tradition for several people in the Bat Mitsvah girl's life to each give a speech and to light a candle signifying their relationship to the guest of honor, but the Goodmans did things a little differently. They only had one candle on the table and had my mom and Makayla light it together. There was not a single dry eye in the house. Everyone close to the Goodman's knows about my mom and that she gave the bone marrow that enabled Makayla's body to function correctly so many years ago.

While the bone marrow was the initial connection between our two families, our bond has grown to so much more than that. I have only spent a short time getting to know the Goodmans and their family, but I know that our lives are richer because of them. It's impossible to be with them and not feel like one of the family. It was truly an honor to be able to be a part of this very special day for Makayla.

God blessed me richly when he let me have a front row seat to one of the most incredible stories I've ever known unfold right before my eyes.  I am working on writing out the journey of this epic adventure we have with Ian, Melissa, Makayla,Zachary, and the whole family and will be posting it on here soon.


Please consider going  online and registering to be a bone marrow donor yourself. Thousands of people are waiting for marrow and it is so easy to register and maybe one day save a life. www.bethematch.org

Makayla
Lynn (my mom)and Makayla


Melissa, Zach, 
Ian,and Makayla


Makayla and I