Friday, April 20, 2012

Callie Grace

Maxi's 4-20We met up tonight with several family members at one of our favorite places, Maxi’s. Me and Ken, my sister Diana and her husband Tom, Shane and Matt, and Tom’s daughters Heather and Jennifer, and Heather’s husband Rey and their son Liam. Still with me? It was ten of us for food and drinks and conversation and laughter. Liam turned five years old this week, and he is such a super cute and smart kid who lifts everyone’s spirits. He totally conked out early on, but came to life later and we had a lot of fun rawring like dinosaurs and just being silly!

It was not exactly happy circumstances that brought us all together this time. Tom’s father, Heather and Jennifer’s grandfather, left us this week. Heather and Jen and family were able to come out from California to be with their Indiana family for a sad occasion which turned into a family get-together...and I know Ben would approve! Tonight was a lot of fun, a chance for some of us to meet up and celebrate our connections with each other. I hate to get too smarmy or sentimental, but damn...I love each and every person who was there tonight, and I can honestly say that I would take a bullet for any one of them. No lie.

To top it all off, we were discussing various political things and science things...and Heather pushed my buttons about vaccinations. She knows that is my hot-button issue, and she knows that just the mention of it gets me going! (Her and Rey are smart parents who follow the science, and Liam has all of his immunizations. Yay!) I mentioned that I recently got my booster shot for Tdap, and that no one there was going to be getting diphtheria or pertussis from me! Heather is at risk for infections, Liam is at risk as a young person, and we all, even as adults, can pass infectious diseases like pertussis on to those who are at risk.

Callie GraceWell, our server (who was awesome, by the way) came up to us and said, “Did I hear you all talking about pertussis?” We said yes, we were talking about vaccinations. It is making me cry to think about this, but she said that her daughter died from whooping cough (pertussis), and she is now an advocate for immunization and awareness of the dangers of not vaccinating. I went over to her and gave her a hug and said that I support her 100%, and she brought us all bracelets that have her daughter’s name on them: Callie Grace.

This is the very real face of non-vaccination. This woman lost her baby daughter because her daughter was too young to be immunized and she caught it from someone else.

I’ve written here about the importance of vaccinations, but it’s one thing to just write about it. It’s a whole other thing to encounter a person who lost a child to an infectious disease that is very preventable. It was astounding to me, and a very moving moment, to be discussing this with family and to have someone overhear us and say, “Yes...I know. And I lost my daughter to this infection.”  

Here’s to my family, here’s to those who we are missing, and here’s to Callie Grace.


  1. Very touching story. It's much more real when you put a face and a name to it. I was just reading an article recently about how whooping cough is making a very deadly comeback. What'll be next? Smallpox?!?

    Also, so sorry about your brother-in-law's father. But how nice that you had a good visit with family you don't get to see often. I can remember those "rawring" dinosaur days with Andrew at about that age!

  2. oh no. What a huge loss in the angel that was Callie Grace. There is a blogger/J Lander who is in my FB, who is an RN, and who i like very much. She is the most anti vaccince person i have ever known. She vaccinated her son and swears he is autistic due to the vaccinations. She has not vaccinated her daughter at all..she is about 7. They live in a state where everyone MUST vaccinate all kids and her daughter is home schooled due to that.

    She is as anti vaccination as you are Pro vaccination. I agree with you and never bring the subject up with her. Megan did an article for her job at the newspaper about how important it is to vaccinate. I told her about my friend who does not believe in them. Meg also has met children who were not vaccinated who are in terrible shape now. Both of my kids had every vaccination offered to them except chicken pox vaccination. They were just a few years too old to get that vaccination for free and i never had it done but they had all the rest. Chad would just stick his tiny arm out at the nurse,age 1, and say, "oh get it over with already" a little old man...i would just crack up. He NEVER even cried or flinched. Megan, for EVERY shot, would scream as if being killed. Such a drama queen. She now says i make that story up. No, i don't. lol My heart is heavy for the loss of this little girl. Great photo of all of you....

  3. Wow... what a contrast between your entry and Lisa's comment... it only makes sense in a bizzaro world where you can take word of mouth hearsay as definitive evidence over proven studies and scientific trials...

    My heart goes out to your server... childhood is romanticized but I think that is the most vulnerable time of life for a human being...

  4. It was an awesome evening, and I wear my bracelet proudly!


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