Providing Smiles and Moments of Peace
One Mom at a time!
There's no medicine to cure the pain
It's not something you can get over
It's not something you can go around
It's something you have to go through
On Christmas day, 2010, Kim Jones' son died. Since his death, she was determined to find a way to give bereaved moms a reason to smile.
Grief is painful.
Grief is natural.
Grief is a process.
Grief is healing.
Supporting our moms through the healing process after the death of her child, and watching her blossom and embrace her "new normal" (because life will never be normal) is PRICELESS!!!!
Making a difference in the lives of our bereaved moms during the healing process will determine our success.
We want to be a part of the process!
Always a Mom Foundation, wants our moms to know, no matter what, they are....
Jamari Marqui Mintz was born on October 27, 1997. He weighed 9 pounds. The first time I looked into his eyes, I never thought my last time looking into his eyes would be thirteen years later.
Jamari was a normal little boy. He enjoyed sports, riding his bike, skating, dancing, cooking and playing video games with his big brother Trevon. Jamari had an old soul, a loving heart and cared more about others than himself. I didn’t know how many lives he touched until months after his funeral services. Some stories made me laugh and some stories made me cry.
In July 2010, Jamari began to complain about stomach pains. He has had stomach aches in the past, but nothing like this. Every time he ate a meal, his stomach would begin to hurt shortly thereafter. I tried the over the counter remedies and home remedies. They seemed to work temporarily, but something wasn’t right. I began taking Jamari back and forth to the doctor. So much at times, I had to ask family members to help with making appointments as I was beginning to miss too many days from work and as single mother, you have to handle both. One night in July 2010, Jamari had a stomach ache unlike any other. I took him to the hospital and he was later admitted. His liver numbers and pancreas numbers were out of control. It wasn’t clear to the doctors what was going on. They gave him an IV with continued medicine to make him comfortable.
Jamari had every test you can think of. He started with blood work, then an ultrasound, x-rays, an upper GI, a colonoscopy, Catscans and lastly a MRI. It was good news. They found a cyst next to his gallbladder, which too was not functioning. A choledochal cyst. The cyst could be removed via laparoscopic surgery. Per Jamari’s doctors, a non-working gallbladder was nothing to be concerned about. Surgery was scheduled for September 10, 2010, with a recovery period of six to eight weeks. The surgery went longer than expected and a laparoscopic surgery turned into Jamari needing to be opened from one end of his stomach to the other. After the surgery, the Surgeon came out and gave me an update on the surgery. He said, “I have been a surgeon for twenty-five years and I have never seen a choledochal cyst like that but the surgery went well and I am pleased with the outcome.”
Seven days later, September 17, 2010, Jamari was diagnosed with Aggressive Cholangiocarcinoma, a rare form of an adult type cancer that only 6% of children are born with. When asked to be told the truth about Jamari’s future, Jamari’s doctor said, “I will be surprised if he makes it to the end of the year”. Jamari died Christmas Day, December 25, 2010 at the age of thirteen years old.
Prior to Jamari’s release from the hospital on September 30, 2010 a feeding tube was scheduled to be inserted. He hadn’t had a meal since September 10, 2010. He was unable to take in solid foods. The procedure was scheduled to be less than thirty minutes. Instead, they found a huge blood clot, sitting in a pool of blood, which took a simple procedure to a three hour procedure. I watched his doctor stand for three hours, shifting from one foot to the other as he removed the blood clot piece by piece. His heart was in it and he was determined to remove it in its entirety. Needless to say, they were unable to insert the feeding tube, for sixteen hours a day Jamari would receive his daily nutrition through an IV.
Jamari was released from the hospital under palliative care which shortly transferred to hospice care.
Through it all, Jamari never complained. His transition on Christmas day was bitter sweet. He hadn’t been able to walk much and was beginning to become more and more uncomfortable. He never wanted to be in a hospital bed. He didn’t want people to feel sorry for him. On Christmas Eve, he agreed to a hospital bed being delivered on Christmas Day so that he could be a little more comfortable. Jamari NEVER complained no matter how much pain he was in. At times you could see the pain in his eyes but he would always say his pain level was three between a scale of one and ten. He was always worried about his family and his mom and brother, especially. When the bed arrived we rearranged the living room. It had been a while since he was able to walk up the stairs to his bedroom. His Dad and Uncle put him in the hospital bed. Jamari was in the hospital bed for less than thirty minutes. He was not able to get comfortable. Jamari began to try to get out of the hospital bed. He kept moving toward the edge of the bed as if there was no illness in his body. He had strength. His great-aunt was vacuuming the floor and Jamari said, “Turn it off, I can’t hear”. She turned the vacuum off immediately. Jamari repeated the following words, with force and meaning about seven times, “Come On…Let’s Go….Continue…Continue…Come on Lets Go”. Jamari made it to the edge of the bed, stood straight up on his feet with no help, something he had not been able to do in about two weeks, fell in his Dad’s arms and made his transition.
I will Always Be Jamari’s Mom! His spirit is in me and I wanted to do something with it. I want to continue to show love the way he did to everyone he came in contact with and include a smile and moments of peace for a Mom that never thought she would be a bereaved mom. You can only understand the pain if you have been through it. I have been through it and many other moms have been through it as well. Together “we” have been through it, which means “we” are not alone. With support, encouragement and togetherness we can all learn how to rebuild our lives.
Always A Mom
“I will always remember Jamari. In spite of his condition, he never complained about the pain that he must have been in. He was always smiling and encouraging. It was uplifting to me to see his tremendous spirit. I think that he drew upon the energy of his loving family members, who were always there to cheer him on. I will keep the memory of his smile with me forever. All the best with this wonderful project!"
Donald B. Shaul, MD
Pediatric Surgery and Urology
Regional Chief, Pediatric Surgery
Los Angeles Medical Center