A Zebra Story

I’ve already posted on Facebook that I wasn’t going to post today.  Truth be told, I had started a post about love (being Valentines day) while Owen was napping, but kept having computer troubles.  My system shut down on me six times during the first paragraph.  When Owen woke up after only 30 minutes; I gave up.  Maybe it was meant to be, because I just checked my email before starting dinner and found this note from a family friend.
On this Valentines day, I’d like to share this beautiful love story.  I’ve deleted a few items to give anonymity.
Dear Tatum & Kyle,
After reading about your connection to the zebra, I had to sit down and share our very special zebra story.  In early 2000, David and I  had our blood tested for possible matches for the National Bone Marrow program.
In 2002, David learned that he was indeed a perfect match for a 9-year-old girl named Emily from San Jose, CA.    She had been diagnosed with cancer when she was about 12 months old so never really knew a day not being a cancer patient.  She actually learned to walk using the IV stand.  In May, we were at the U of MN for the harvesting of David’s bone marrow.  After the procedure, his bone marrow was flown to the hospital where Emily was ready for the transplant.  It was a success!
A year later in June, David and I were invited to go to be guests at Emily’s 11th birthday celebration.  Actually, meeting David was  Emily’s big birthday surprise . . . we won’t ever forget her Dad introducing the two of them in front of 30 or so very special family and friends of this special little girl.  She literally flew across the room and into his arms . . . many tears of joy in the room that day!
Among the many special moments we shared with her during that trip was our tour of her bedroom ~ a more apt description would be the Zebra Room.  It was filled with every conceivable type of zebra you could imagine and we learned just how meaningful the Zebra was to our little Emily.  It was her focus and support during many long and difficult days . . . she loved her Zebras and was very proud as she showed them to us.  One that was with her front and center was named Dory ~ we were honored and humbled to learn that the name was a combination of David and Lori.  Emily was blessed with a wonderful family, amazingly loving parents and two adoring sisters not to mention grandparents, aunts and uncles.  There was much love in that house during our visit and we were so lucky to be a part of it.
Sadly, Emily passed away shortly after our return to Minnesota.  We learned of her passing while we were at our favorite spot in the world, XXX Lake.  We were told of the plans for the memorial service . . . a letter from David was read by a close family friend as the eulogy and the gathering ended with Emily’s favorite treat for all ~ root beer floats.  At the same time that was taking place in California, our family went to our special island with a cooler filled with root beer and ice cream and toasted Emily.  We shared that picture with her family and felt it made us a bit closer to her and all of them.
I’m sure that you can understand why the Zebra ornament given to us by her family is always front and center on our Christmas trees.  What a wonderful gift David gave ~ they had one more year with this precious little girl!  Isn’t it so true that the true blessings in life are the gifts we give?  Our gift in return was Emily and a spirit that will live on in our family as well as hers.
I’m really not the biggest fan of Valentines day.  However, I’m a true believer in love.  This story is just that; a great example of love.  Instead of a Happy Valentines day, I’m wishing you all love.
zebra heart
If you don’t know my connection with Zebras, here is the post.
If you’re not on the Bone Marrow registry, it’s easy to sign up at Be The Match.
© Copyright Tatum, All rights Reserved. Written For: Ain't No Roller Coaster

6 thoughts on “A Zebra Story

  1. What a great story, even though sad that Emily didn’t live longer than she did. Thanks for sharing and Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Tatum, and your family.


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