The Neverending Story

'The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.'
--John N Mitchell

We set up this website in late October for our wonderful, inquisitive, loving Aiyana. Yana is our eight year old daughter, sister, cousin, niece, friend and granddaughter who was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of leukemia (MPAL).

Aiyana had an amazing life and we are filled with hundreds of heartwarming memories. May all of us take to heart how much a little girl from Lockeford, CA, impacted the world and be reminded and inspired to never let the sun go down without living each day all the way through.

Her Spirit is in every Butterfly.


Coins for Aiyana!

It's me again!

You probably know that Washington School came up with this great book drive to add reading books to the library at Aiyana's school. She loved to read. In fact, her mom and pop tell stories about her as a toddler playing with books rather than regular toys.

Well I can sure attest to her love of books. Her house is full of them. Her mom is a wonderful artist and Aiyana loved books with really good illustrations.

In the first few weeks after Washington School started the coin drive, her schoolmates had earned over $100 just with their pennies and nickles and dimes. By the night of the winter concert in January, the fundraiser had reached over $500.00 and included checks from two anonymous businesses.

Aiyana's Coins jars were now in other places, too: shops and businesses. Money kept coming in, dollars now, and bigger than that.

And then last night, there was a crab feed. Three hundred and fifty people packed into the huge firehouse in Clements to benefit the Lions Club and their service projects. Have you been to one? It's a lot of fun with the raffle and auction, great food, spirited families and lots of friends.

Part of the evening included a "Coins for Aiyana" jar and Korina spoke to the crowd about how special and beautiful Aiyana was and what the fundraiser would do for her elementary school. By night's end, $720.21 was collected!! You should have seen the young woman talking up the jar and encouraging donations. At one point, even the manager of the bar emptied the entire tip jar into Aiyana's coin jar.

While all this was going on, her wonderful brother worked nonstop to collect all the recyclables from the event to add to the total. And the fire chief noticed him, and handed over all the recyclables from the firehouse.

This small community continues to overwhelm us with support and generosity. Thank you.

The Christmas Concert

Thanks for visiting Aiyana's page. I will try to do a better job of writing regularly again, to share news of life now and how we transition to it. And when there are momentus occasions, they'll be here too!

I think we're all caught up with how different the landscape is without our hunny bunny. We ache for the old patterns and anticipating Aiyana and Avry hurling themselves into our arms. We miss seeing her smile light up her heart and the excited exchange of ideas between the girls as they raced off into another adventure.

In January, Washington Elementary did another fabulous thing for the community and the family. These kind hearted teachers and administrators had a winter concert. All the grades were represented and there was a good turnout, I hear due mainly to an ice cream bribe by the Principal, but they sang their hearts out for it and played bells and recorders and rhythm sticks. It was great.

Just before the last song, the Principal announced it was a dedication to the family of Aiyana and that she would remain forever in their hearts through her love of music. All the grades sang the Song of Peace together and learned sign language along with the lyrics. Is that not great??

Afterwards, as the family made our way around the room thanking staff, the Principal and I briefly spoke and another loving supportive idea came tumbling out: at the bench dedication in March, the book I read to her in the hospital, Two Ways to Count to Ten, will also be dedicated to the library -- and maybe I will even be able to read it to some of her school friends!

It comes on suddenly, getting all choked up by someone's compassion that is unexpected and genuine. We are deeply grateful to Washington School and this little group of loving people in the middle of nowhere that serves the families of this little valley town. Through their love, they are helping us heal.

The lessons the children learn here aren't just taught in the classroom. The educators model compassion and community spirit that will make these children citizens of the world. I look at what's going on here and it's not hard to imagine an educational system throughout America that teaches leadership alongside academics and compassionate citizenship. If Washington School could be the template, I do believe we would end up with a bunch of honest-to-God leaders.



I have been avoiding this, not intentionally at first with all the holiday traffic and activities, but it's time to check in and move things forward.

You've all been wondering, I'm sure you have, how the family did this year during Thanksgiving and Christmas, pageants and parades, food galore and gathering after gathering.

Well they did fine: better than fine, worse than fine, and it's over now. Aiyana was present everywhere and reminders kept popping up unexpectedly. Songs she sang came on the radio and there were her tree decorations to contend with and her brothers' concerts. We so missed seeing the girls race down the lawn to greet the car when we drove up. And yet, the welcome mat greeted us warmly and hugs were everywhere.

It's hard to know what to do and trust that a visit will bring comfort rather than pain. But in truth, it's always the right time to drop in and fill the house for just a little while and to transport them somewhere other than where they've been. It means more than you know.

The bench for Aiyana's school is in the final planning stages and it will be exciting to see it take shape. Greenie friends are designing and building it out of beautiful reclaimed and recycled wood for students at Washington Elementary to sit on after school. Korina will set her imagination to work when it arrives, to honor Aiyana who waited there every day. She would like that. And I think she loved our antics on Christmas Eve as we giggled and danced the night away, letting aches and cares slip below the radar for just a little while.

It was grand.