Patrick Scott remembers helping his little sister, Alex, set up and run the front-yard lemonade stand that would go on to inspire a cancer funding movement.
Alexandra Scott, the second of Liz and Jay Scott's four children, wasn't even a year old when she was diagnosed. At age 4, she wanted to raise money for doctors to allow them to "help other kids, like they helped me," according to the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, named in her honor.
Now, 13 years after his sister died from neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer, Patrick posted a letter to his sister on Facebook to catch her up on family events she missed, fill her in on how much money has been raised, and let her know, more than anything else, he remembers the lessons she taught him. It reads:
To my sister Alex,
Today marks 13 years since your death on August 1, 2004. At the time, you were 8 and I was 9. Had you lived, you would be 21 now. It's difficult to imagine, because you will always be fixed in my memory, and in the memories of Mom, Dad, Eddie and Joey, as an 8-year-old girl. It's even more difficult to think of all the things you've missed in the 13 years since you died; our family has had 65 birthdays, nine graduations and two new dogs.
I think that, if you were alive, even you would be surprised to see what your lemonade stand has become (or, maybe not, you always had a way of knowing things). Tens of thousands of events each year and over $140 million raised — quite a far cry from the table you set up in our front yard not too many years ago.
When I think of you on this day, the word that comes to mind is "bittersweet." It is impossible to recollect the joy of your life without also bringing to mind the tragedy of your death and the tragedy of pediatric cancer. Should I feel happy to have known you or sad to have lost you? Should I think of the thousands of lives that your dream saved or your life that ended too soon? Should I remember the fullness of your years or the shortness of your life? Do I remember days sitting in our backyard, you drawing and me reading, or your final days, when your illness had progressed beyond the point of no return?
I could remember you as a lot of things: the lemonade girl, a childhood cancer victim, my close friend, my little sister. But none of them do you justice; you would not be you if they were not all true.
More than anything else, I remember you for what you taught me. When asked about your cancer, you once said, "I am grateful for what I have, not ungrateful for what I don't have." You, as a terminally ill child, were still appreciative of the blessings that you had. To me, that describes you better than any label, encapsulates your image better than any picture — it reminds me that even though you were never old in age, in some ways, you were old in wisdom. For the lessons that you taught me, I will always remember you and I will always be grateful.
With love, your brother,