Maintenance Day 517: A Letter I Will Never Send
Today was supposed to be a great day: our beautiful daughters’ first day of school. While all of the other parents were laughing and encouraging their children, enjoying this special moment, we were pulled aside by the teacher. As she went through the children’s medical records, she discovered that one of the children in Scarlett’s class is not vaccinated. There are many things I would like to say but my conscience stops me. I understand that nothing I say can convince another parent to change their beliefs. It’s not going to matter so what is the point. But when I am upset, I write. So here is my letter to that parent:
This morning, my daughters got dressed
for their first day of school. They had
new outfits that they picked out
themselves. They got their backpacks.
They took their pictures. They smiled
and laughed on their way in to preschool.
They were just like your child.
Except my daughter is not like your child.
My daughter has cancer. She has had a
drill bored into her hips. She has been
poked with a needle more times than
we can count. She has had surgeries,
lost her hair, watched friends die. She
has suffered through sickness and pain.
She has suffered enough.
As parents, we have watched all of this.
We have held her head as her whole
body wretches. We have washed her
bloody hands, raw from the medications.
We have wiped her bottom while wearing
masks and gloves because our own child
is too poisonous for us to touch. We have
worried and cried and planned. We have
neglected our other children. We have
We have raised money. We have opened
every aspect of our lives to the public to
bring awareness in the hopes of a cure.
We do this, not for our child, but for yours.
We hope to stop this horrible disease in its
tracks. We hope that not one more child is
diagnosed with cancer, not one more child
suffers, not one more child dies. We do
this for society, for the greater good.
Today my daughter went to school.
Tonight, we have to make the decision
of whether or not to send her back
because you did not vaccinate your
child. You put our child at risk with
the decision that you made. Now I
have to make the decision of how I
am going to make my child suffer
even more. Do I risk exposing her to
a disease that is nearly wiped out in
America, brought back by unvaccinated
children? Or do I break her heart and
tell her that she cannot go to school any
more? A “simple” disease like chicken
pox could kill her. We have made enough
decisions in the past two years. Decisions
that our child’s life depended on. You are
forcing us to have to make another decision
that we shouldn’t have to make.
We ask one thing of you after all of our
suffering. Take care of society, think of
the greater good. Vaccinate your children
to protect ours. Vaccines do not cause
autism. Vaccines do not cause cancer.
Vaccines save lives. FACT.
I can call you selfish. I can call you
stupid. I can call you names that are
a lot worse because I am that angry
today. But that won’t help me tomorrow.
You won’t be there to wipe away my child’s
tears because she can’t go back to school
or hold her head as she lays in a hospital
bed dying of measles. Your decision
doesn’t truly affect you. You will probably
never see the ramifications of your actions.
Because we vaccinated our children for
the greater good. We vaccinated our
children to save yours.
I am just a mom, trying to protect her child. The difference is that I have science, facts and statistics on my side. I am angry, sad, hurt and ultimately helpless. I cannot force the school to tell this child’s family to vaccinate or change classes. But I can use my voice to encourage my state to eliminate personal exemptions for school vaccines. I’ll just add this small task to my very short list of things to do.
This will be a letter that I will never send because I am a coward. I will not confront this family (partially because I don’t know who they are). They may never know that my daughter is (or was) in their class. I am too much of a coward to let them know how much they made me and my daughter cry. They will never know how much their decision affected our family.
So I ask you, please think of children like Scarlett when you consider vaccinating. And please pray for Scarlett to make it through the year healthy and safe.