“Jimmy, what does it feel like when people show you love?” I asked after leaving a surprise celebration at his school.
“Well mommy, I think it makes me feel really good. It was so much fun. It makes my legs tingle. My tummy feel tickled and it makes my heart feel full,” Jimmy said smiling, thinking of the recent memory of it.
Cindy Foht, Jimmy’s compassionate, kind principle at Rogers primary of Shaler Area School District, called me a few days before his last treatment. He hadn’t stopped talking about being able to ring the bell at the hospital since he found out, so of course the entire staff knew about it. Principle Foht wanted to know if they could give him a bell to ring the day after his treatment if he felt up to it. She wanted to know if they could celebrate Jimmy’s victory of finishing another year of the chemo that treats a brain tumor he’s had since 4 months of age. She continued, “We will have the kids line up for him to clap and cheer him on.” She also added, “Music will be played since Jimmy loves to dance so he can have a dance party with the entire school. We think he might like that.”
I was humbled and in awe of the proposal. Of course I agreed! “Yes, Jimmy will be so excited and grateful if you do that!” I exclaimed.
Rogers Primary as a whole, the teachers, the aides, the entire staff and of course the children have supported Jimmy since he first set foot on the property almost two years ago. Jimmy’s special education teacher, Mrs.Webb and one of the aides, Mrs.Hall gave him an entire package of toys and things to do at the hospital when he first started this recent round of treatment. Principle Foht supported his change in curriculum and whatever he needed throughout the year. So many others have went out of their way to make Jimmy feel loved. The list goes on and we’ll never forget their kindness. Due to a fire, Rogers Primary has been sharing space with a sister school, Burchfield Primary, whose entire staff have also opened their hearts with support for Jimmy since day one. We miss him during the day, yet feel good about leaving Jimmy in the hands of the people at his school. This event, the level of support they were offering this time, was much different than before. This was shouting from the roof tops, “We support and love you Jimmy!!.” It was refreshing and as much as I thought we appreciated them before, it went to a whole new level.
I was excited for Jimmy, but what happened when we walked into the school was far beyond what I imagined.
The halls vibrated with the sounds of clapping and cheering. The energy in the hall was electric. Jimmy’s face said it all as he looked back at me, like, “Can you feel this mom?”
I did feel it! We all felt it. It took the wind right out of me and it was an astonishing scene. Children, teachers and staff from his entire school lined the halls. Everything was in slow motion as I watched him ring that bell with laughter and elation pouring from his face. The whole staff was smiling from ear to ear and the children were cheering and clapping. It was a beautiful sound of reverence and encouragement, something I had never heard at that volume before. It truly was moving.
I kept putting my hand to my heart as I filmed him dancing down the hall of cheer. I could feel their love and support and I knew it took Jimmy over. I had to keep reminding myself to take a breath, because that amount of people cheering Jimmy on took my breath away in the best way imaginable. Jimmy’s joyous movements flowed down the hall as he greeted friend after friend.
After the crowds dissipated back into their classrooms I thought, “WOW that was incredible!” They had one more surprise in store for Jimmy though. He walked into his classroom and all his classmates yell, “Jimmy,” running up to him, one after another, hugging him. They absolutely mobbed him and the entire class joined together in the cutest group hug I’ve ever seen. Then the music came on and he had his own private dance party with his classmates. The only way I can describe it is that it looked like LOVE in a tangible form, it was simply beautiful.
We all talk about these moments in life. The extraordinary, exceptional, prodigious moments that we watch in movies and read about in books. How often do you get to live those kind of moments in real life? How often to we get feel those extraordinary moments with the people who are around us every day connecting us all on a compassionate level. We gain a sense of humility together as whole when we come together to support someone with a tough circumstance. Jimmy embodies that experience, it is part of him now. What a gift.
Will Jimmy remember how the chemo made him feel on the last treatment? I’m not sure but I hope not.
What I hope he will remember about his last treatment is the celebration that followed, how loved and supported he felt. How it made his legs tingle, his tummy feel tickled and how it made his heart feel full. That’s a feeling a support, loving community can give, that’s community I want to be a part of. Love heals.
Follow Jimmers journey on Facebook, “I’m praying for Jimmy Spagnolo.”