That weekend after my son, Elijah-Alavi had passed away, half of me wanted everyone to leave us alone so I could crumble into pieces and sit in my pain. The other half knew that my family and friends being around was the only thing keeping us from falling apart. At some point on Sunday, my cousin,Ruben pulled me aside and said, “Thomas, if you want to break down and cry and crawl into a corner and stay there forever until you’re ready, I hope you know everyone will understand. We'll be here. It’s perfectly okay.” I looked up at him from my chair because I knew he knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. Hearing those words was as if I had permission for the floodgates to open. But, I know my cousin. So, I looked up at him with a tear on the verge of coming out, waiting for him to finish.
“Everyone will understand. No one will ever question it and we will all be here by you guys for anything you need. That's one choice. But…”. I already knew where this was going. I started to feel the fire of pain turn into energy rising. My head barely nodded up and down. “Yeah… not another child.”
My family and I are standing here today fueled with life to create change. Elijah’s Law passed in NY and Illinois and soon hopes for, PA, and other states. Members of Congress discussing Elijah’s Law nationally; with thousands of childcare workers trained in knowing the signs and treating the symptoms of an allergic reaction and anaphylaxis; epinephrine auto-injectors initiative donated to schools and childcare facilities; with educational resources, online training with our partners Belay, https://training.webelay.com, and in-person certifications to be accessible to childcare workers around the country for free or low-cost; asthma initiatives, schools and students signing up for our ambassadors program to raise awareness and while helping to build the next generation of food allergy allies and alliances; and so on, one thing I know is true from this experience is that CHOICE is one of the most powerful tools we have available to us. In any given moment-be they unremarkable mundane moments, deeply passionate and joyous moments, or paralyzing heartbreaking moments--every single moment we have an opportunity to choose.
Well, we are here. We are alive. We get to choose to do some- thing. For Dina, Sebastin and I, it’s ensuring Elijah's life continues to have an impact on the world. It's ensuring his presence continues to echo. You are here. You are alive. You get to choose to do something, today, every day. What will it be?
"We Need Change!" And by working BETTER TOGETHER, We can make a difference.