May 09, 2015 | Posted by Kevin O'Connor
Some mornings, even now, it is tough to function, Teresa Cordeiro said. She will wake up thinking of her daughter, Megan, and of Megan’s death in June 2008 of acute myelogenous leukemia.
Megan had been sick for 18 months. She had been getting better just before she died. She lived to be 11 years old. “Some days I don’t want to get out of bed,” Teresa said.
But she does. And often one of her two daughters, Chelsea and Sarah, will see her and ask if she is OK or just put a hand on her back. It is enough, Teresa said. It helps that much. And she goes on, she said. It is what a mother does.
Megan was a wonder as a child. The youngest of three, she was determined to keep up. She sang and danced like her sisters did and followed them onto the soccer pitch, playing with a focus that made her one of the best in town in the soccer leagues for 7-, 8- and 9-year-old girls. “And she had awesome friends,” Teresa said. “She really did. “Her friends meant so much to her, right up to the end.”
Those friends, Megan’s classmates, graduated from high school in June — an unexpectedly painful milestone, Teresa said. She and John stayed home that night, but Megan was remembered with a moment of silence, the announcement of scholarship awards in her name. Several classmates had her picture and name on their graduation caps.
John and Teresa raise the money for the scholarship, $1,500 awards to Tiverton High School graduates who plays soccer and are going on to college. More than $30,000 has been awarded so far, Teresa said.
That money is raised through a soccer tournament the Cordeiros organize every May. It will be on May 30 and 31 this year. The family also organizes the Miles for Megan, a bike ride and walk that has been held every October since Megan died. That effort has raised almost a quarter-million dollars — all of it going to organizations that helped Megan and the Cordeiros: Hasbro Children’s Hospital, the Tomorrow Fund, the Hole in the Wall Gang, the Floating Hospital and Flashes of Hope.
Flashes of Hope sends photographers into Hasbro to take studio portraits of children with critical illnesses. The Cordeiros have four of those portraits on their living room wall, one of each daughter and one of Chelsea, Sarah and Megan together, smiling, leaning toward one another, close. “I sit here, every morning, with my cup of coffee,” Teresa said. “I remember that day. They had fun together. It is the last time we took pictures of them together.”
Chelsea and Sarah have chosen helping professions, one studying psychology, the other majoring in social work. “If Megan had survived, I’m sure she would have become a doctor or a nurse,” Teresa said. “She had made up her mind about that.”
And the Cordeiros have found ways to help, too. In addition to raising money for scholarship and helping organizations, John and Teresa are the directors of the Providence chapter of Flashes of Hope. They go to Hasbro Childrens Hospital every month to meet with families facing illnesses that are threatening a child’s life. They do what parents do — they try to help others get by. “After we lost Megan, it was either not get up in the morning or try to do something to help the people who helped us when we went through this,” Teresa said. “It helps us. It has helped.”
But the loss is still there, every day, Teresa said. Megan is still in her heart and in her thoughts. “That hasn’t gone away,” Teresa said. “It won’t ever go away. “She will always be my daughter.”
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