Chapter 6 Excerpt…

A remarkable step towards healing after Jackie’s death; Mickey Mouse and the New Bedford High School Marching Band!

I hope this excerpt encourages you to embrace those around you, who knew and loved your lost loved one, for they are the ones to help pave the road to healing.

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5 thoughts on “Chapter 6 Excerpt…

  1. Jay and I remained on the Executive Board of the marching band during Jackie’s illness because we hoped our continued participation would inspire Jackie to keep a positive attitude towards her difficult treatments and hospital stay, as well as show our belief in her recovery. We band parents had been raising money to finance a trip to Florida, where the kids had been invited to perform in Disneyworld during the April, 1990 school vacation. After Jackie relapsed and her transplant was canceled, her hopes of joining her friends on this trip were dashed, and we gave up our spots as chaperones. With her death, it has felt too painful to go without her.

    However, Jackie’s band family has embraced us in a way I will never forget. They have invited Kristine to carry the N.B.H.S. banner down Disneyworld’s Main Street, in memory of her sister. Kristine is both flattered and honored, since her heart is set on auditioning for the color guard this coming August. They also have made Beth an honorary member, by having miniature color guard flags made especially for her. On top of everything, the parents have voted to use Jackie’s allotted trip allowance to pay Kristine’s expenses.

    With building the house, incurring so many expenses during Jackie’s illness, losing my income to care for her and paying for her funeral, we are flat broke. Never before have we asked my parents for financial help. Now there’s no choice. We have to take the trip to Disneyworld, to be a part of such a tribute to Jackie.

    My parents and my brother, Tom, and his family decided they want to witness Kristine’s honored place in the band, too. Traveling with over one hundred and thirty kids, chaperones and instructors, plus all the instruments, flags, and uniforms is a great adventure. Despite it being bittersweet, seeing my girls with these band kids lifts my spirits. It’s so obvious that Jackie’s friends need to be with Kris and Beth, just as much as Kris and Beth need to be with them.

    By noon, the sun is on fire, and the temperature soars to a scorching ninety-three degrees on Disneyworld’s Main Street. The kids must wear their winter marching uniforms, and they dread the thought of getting dressed. Luckily, the dressing rooms are air-conditioned. Knowing that once they hit the sunshine they’re going to roast, I take charge of the girls in the color guard and cut off the sleeves and body of their turtleneck jerseys, leaving only the neck, dickeys style, under their sequined tops. That should help a little.

    The Disney crew takes the kids underground to the staging area. Not wanting to miss a moment of the parade, we join our group of family and friends at the head of Main Street. The heat is so oppressive that everyone looks as if they’re about to wilt. The sun is blazing mercilessly, and there isn’t a cloud in the sky to provide relief.

    When I hear the drums, I offer up a silent prayer to my special angel. Then, as if by magic, the moment the twirling flags are in sight, a cloud appears and the sun kindly slides behind it. A gentle breeze begins to blow and immediately the searing temperature is brought down by ten degrees. It’s then that I hear Manny, my friend and fellow chaperone, announce for all to hear, “It’s Jackie, she’s here. She’s here taking care of her friends.”

    By the time the band reaches us, every one is in tears. Even a family from England, whom we told about Jackie while we were waiting for the parade to begin, is crying.

    As I watch Kris lead this talented group of young musicians, looking so proud and smiling from ear to ear, I know Manny is right – Jackie is here. I can see her in Kristine’s smile.

  2. I remember this trip and that performance like it was yesterday. Such a special moment for all. I think each of us who marched or performed with the band after Jackie had passed, dedicated it to her each and every time out. We were really one big family. Knowing Jackie and how she fought, her courage, and strength, has been an inspiration every day since then.

    • Thank you Brandon for your kind words. Like you will always remember Jackie, we will always remember the Almeida family for their limitless love and compassion offered to us in the days/weeks/months during and after Jackie’s illness and death.

  3. Sue, I’ve read the book, but I forgot about that. Being a band parent from 1996-2000, I was a chaperone on a DW trip twice and a parent who took the trip to see my son in his freshman year perform there. I got chills reading this excerpt from the book. I know Jackie must have been a wonderful girl, and the band missed her. We had a loss in the band in 2000 when we returned from DW. Chunk was a great kid, and he also passed away too soon. Amazing what that band did for our kids, and for us as parents. God bless you and your family.

    • Thank you, Pat, your message is appreciated. I also remember when Chunk passed and the same effect it had on the kids as when Jackie passed…no doubt a difficult time for all the kids, instructors and parents.

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