Today I got an email from my daughter's current physical therapist letting me know that her first PT (both in home through Early Intervention and, later, in school) passed away last week from breast cancer. I won't name any names because of the wild and wacky world of Google, but this woman was the co-owner of a large pediatric therapy group and worked with hundreds or maybe even thousands of children. When she was our EI PT, my daughter couldn't sit unassisted, couldn't crawl (she rolled), and had no diagnosis. The PT held my hand through the early days. She helped me understand what doctors were saying and what the MRI really meant. She helped me wrap my head around a diagnosis of "mild cerebral palsy" when the words were clanging around in my consciousness but not making any sense.
And she got my daughter to sit. To crawl. To thrive. She gave us hope and strength, and I looked forward to her visits for many, many reasons.
When she had to resign from being our PT the first time for health reasons, we said our goodbyes as if they were our last. (And she set us up with another amazing PT who continues to see my kid outside of school to this day.) It turns out they were, but that was two years ago (more?). Imagine our surprise when my daughter started preschool and we found that her therapist in school was this same woman. We were thrilled, but we never managed to connect with her in person. We sent notes, I sent a Christmas card/gift, and we made sure the teachers and aides passed along how happy we were to have her back in our lives.
A few weeks ago she abruptly (at least to us) had to stop seeing kids again. A new PT was hired at the school. We heard rumors of health concerns, we were told of surgery, and the last I'd heard she was doing OK, getting her own therapies, and putting off seeing kids again for a short while. And then this. So while it was not sudden nor unexpected, it totally was at the same time.
Her memorial service is this weekend. My kid is simply a terror at things like that, so I'm not sure if we'll go. I'll make a donation as her family requested and I'll keep her in my heart. I will always tell my kid about her, and we'll always remember her.
Her official obituary.