I've been lucky, and indeed they have.
Here's Matthew, the first one who ever called me "Aunt Jane." He's my college roommate's son and he came into my life on July 11, 1995. Today he's a freshman at Lafayette College, the place where his mom and I met.
Here's Ian, the second one to call me "Aunt Jane." He belongs to my sister, and he came into our family on August 7, 2002. A terrific athlete with a kind heart, he loves baseball, basketball and football, card games, Sponge Bob, and hanging out with his friends.
Here's Sam, who came into my life and the lives of thousands of others on June 14, 2012, when his mother created this blog. Sam loved turtles, frogs and bugs, played the piano, and spent lots of time doing fun things with his three siblings and the rest of his family.
Yes, children come into our lives in many ways.
They're not supposed to go out of our lives, however. And they're certainly not supposed to die.
But that's what happened to Sam. Exactly 18 months to the day after his mom wrote that first post, Sam died.
Nothing can bring Sam back, and nothing can take away his parents' pain.
Nonetheless, 81 individuals--mostly rabbis and Jewish professionals from throughout the country--have committed to shave their heads in March to raise money (and awareness) for childhood cancer research through St. Baldrick's Foundation. The original #36rabbis' $180,000 goal quickly was surpassed, and the group has now raised nearly 77 percent of the updated goal of $360,000.
With March 31 quickly approaching, what better way to honor Sam's memory, support families in the midst of battling this horrid disease, and sustain hope that childhood cancer will become--speedily and in our day--a thing of the past?