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Dedication - September 1999
The IBD Parents Support Message Board and it's continued day to day operation are dedicated to the memory of little Natalie Gaines who touched our hearts and souls with her struggle to overcome and her love of life in spite of it all. In her memory may we love as unconditionally as a child, may we remember the importance of a smile as well as a shoulder to lean on, and may we cherish each and every one of our days.
The Tribute - September 2002
I struggled for three years with the question: How do we pay proper tribute to Natalie, celebrating her short and precious life, while still respecting her family's need to grieve. I have come to the conclusion that it is likely there is no way to pay tribute to her life without coming face to face with the reality of her last days, through the eyes of her mother. Surely there are lessons to be learned from those last days that live on in the hearts and souls of those of us who, in a very real sense, walked those days right alongside her mother. There are lessons about the unending and unwavering love of a parent, lessons about the unconditional love and courage of a child, and much more. This is real life, and death... the realization of every parent's greatest fear contrasted by absolutely inspirational courage and dignity in the face of that realization. It is our hope, and sincere prayer, that through this humble tribute Natalie's spirit will live on forever in the hearts of those who never had the chance to know her... just as I'm sure she lives on in the hearts of those who got to share her short and precious life.
Natalie's Path of Courage
We Will Always Remember
Even in her darkest hour, Marlene was concerned about how Natalie's passing would effect our support group family. Her selflessness was inspirational: "It is really important for me to mention that I hope Natalie's death doesn't scare anyone off the board. I was worried about this. Now more than ever, you need each other and this community spirit, to search, share, and question everything. It is the only way us parents can help our children combat this terrible disease. The only peace of mind I have right now is knowing that I never gave up. She knew it too." (Natalie's Memorial - Aug 30, 1999) I pray that God will bless the Gaines family and that somehow good has come from the hell that they have had to walk through.