The greatest things you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.
February 21st was National Caregiving Day, and the perfect opportunity to let my friends know why I created a nonprofit named after my beloved son Christopher. Through this foundation I embarked on a newly realized journey of recognizing and thanking thousands of Caregivers for their selfless acts of kindness. In a very short time, we have provided awards to more than 100 deserving caregivers.
I feel fortunate to have been Christopher’s mom. He was a special and unique child who changed my life for the better. When a child has special needs, the family finds itself defined by the love it gives and receives. When that child dies, the family suffers not just the loss of the child, but the loss of an intense and focused life. Such was the story of our family.
The idea of the foundation was formed two years ago at a time when Christopher was receiving 24/7 loving care from family and a cadre of incredible doctors and nurses while in the critical care unit of UMC, and later Saint Rose hospital. When we were told that he was very ill, we thought we were prepared for the loss of him; this little man was the glue that held us all together. In the hospital, his brother Jason and I sat together, quietly considering the remarkable life of this much-loved son and brother. We knew all too well how special he was, and how lucky we were to have him. Chris knew he was greatly loved as we, his adoring family, sat bedside to support him and the medical team. We were all blessed to have Caregiving friends in Sonny and Raquel.
Being a caregiver means different things to different people. For some, it’s a profession often chosen by extraordinary humans whose sole mission in life is to ease pain and stress. For others it might conjure an image of a parent or sibling, like our family, caring for a child with a disability. Others might think of a spouse caring for a partner with Alzheimer’s. And then, there is the adult child who provides care for an elderly parent. These are the “family Caregivers” who work for free, around the clock, some for a few months, others for a lifetime. Many do this while holding down a full-time job to support the family.
The Christopher Smith Foundation exists to say thank you to people who are juggling work, a family, and the demands of caring for a vulnerable human. You are not alone, and we love and recognize you.
Linda Smith, Founder of the Christopher Smith Foundation