Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Silly Socks & Jess

This is a shortened version of the story that I posted online in 2012.  I posted the link to a longer version which has more photos at the end of this note as well as the link in the last sentence.  

Having felt quite alone as a CHD mom for the first 12 years of Jessica's life, I went online in 2000 to see if I could find a support group for families with children with CHD (congenital heart defects).  I found on email support group through CHIN (Children's Heart Information Network) called pdheart. I told our story of how Jessica had endured 5 heart surgeries, 2 strokes and that there wasn't anything else that could be done for her except comfort care. Jessica’s health was declining and we didn't know if she would survive until Christmas. The members on pdheart embraced us and wanted to know how they could show their support. It was a tradition on that support group to wear Christmas Socks for a child when they were going through a hard time so people all around the world started to wear Christmas Socks in Jessica's honor. The word spread like wildfire and to our amazement within a couple of months there were over 12 countries and at least 5,000 people wearing Christmas socks (or Hanukkah socks) as a way to show of their love, support and prayers. Jessica started receiving mail from all over the world as well. She LOVED the attention of course.

Christmas came and Jessica seemed to have improved a little. We enjoyed time with family and were so thankful for all the support. After Christmas was over I started receiving emails from my new-found friends asking what type of socks they should wear next! Soon Valentine's Day socks, Easter socks, Summer socks, polka-dot socks, and even toe socks were being sported around the world in hopes that Jessica would meet the next holiday and the next. After a while everyone started referring to them as "Silly Socks". 

There were many times that Jessica was at death's door and would come back to us. She had many issues including extreme heart arrhythmia, worsening congestive heart failure, bouts of nausea and worsening abdominal pain. She was diagnosed with Ischemia of the Bowels which is a very painful and terminal disease if surgery isn't possible and unfortunately for Jessica, there was nothing that could be done. In 2004 Jessica was placed in hospice due to daily lung bleeds. During that time loving people around the world were praying for and wearing their Silly Socks for Miss Jess. Jessica's hospice nurse took a shot in the dark and recommended morphine therapy to Jessica's pulmonologist and to everyone's amazement the lung bleeds STOPPED!!! 

During all of this Jessica continued to be as happy, loving and giving as she could be. Due to strokes, lack of oxygen to her body & brain (her whole life) and the diagnosis of DiGeorge, sweet Jessica never progressed beyond the level of a 7 - 8 year old. She was always our "little girl" who loved Barbies, princesses, Harry Potter, etc. 

In the summer of 2010 Jessica was nearing the end stages of heart disease and the ischemic bowel disease so we admitted her into a home hospice once again. When I announced the news to our friends on pdheart & other support groups, facebook and other social media, they once again rallied together to wear their Silly Socks for her - not for her to get better, but for her passing to be peaceful and for strength for our family. 

Our dear, sweet, beautiful Jessica Marie went to be with the Lord on October 4, 2010. TEN YEARS after the first Christmas & Silly Socks were first worn on her behalf.

I don't believe that certain socks have any particular powers but what I do believe is that God hears and answers prayers. Friends, family, church members, fellow heart families and even strangers all around the world from all walks of life, all faiths and even self-proclaimed atheists came together on behalf of one sweet, innocent, loving child. The miracle wasn't for her to be cured, but it was to bring all these wonderful people together for a good cause.  Thank you to all of you who have been such a wonderful support to us in the past and who continue to wear their Silly Socks & send messages of support.   

Every year on Jessica's birthday and angelversary we have a Silly Socks FB event where people share photos of their Silly Socks in honor of Jessica and to show their love and support for our family.  Jessica’s worst fear was that she would be forgotten.  “Oh, my dear sweet girl, how could you ever think that anyone could forget such a strong, courageous, loving child as you?”  We’ve met so many people since her death who have never met her who can still feel her legacy of love, hope and faith!  Jessica's quote, when I asked, “What would you want the world to know?” and she immediately said, “Tell everyone that I said to NEVER GIVE UP!  OK, Mommy?  You need to tell the world that I said to NEVER, EVER GIVE UP!”  NEVER give up HOPE!  NEVER give up FAITH! And NEVER, EVER give up on LOVE.

Here is the link to the original story that I posted in 2000 and edited in 2012.  It has photos from that first Christmas the socks were worn (2000).

Wearing Christmas socks:  L-R
Jessica's Aunt Alice (only one foot in photo), her Aunt Mandy, Jessica (herself -purple pants), her Aunt Karen and me - the Mom  

To read more about Jessica's CHDs (Congenital Heart Defects) click here and here. To learn more about Jessica's 5 heart surgeries please click here 

Thank you for stopping by!

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