Perhaps there is nothing more moving than a child going through the battle of their life with cancer. At first, I will tell you I was not sure that I could do this project and now, after dedicating 4 years to it.. I can not imagine not making a large part of my annually philanthropic work a part of this! Little Patrick who is the first guy featured on the gallery passed away and after becoming friends with all of us including my son he succumbed to brain cancer. James my only son stated without hesitation, “that’s ok… I’ll see him in heaven…it might be a while but I will see him and we will play again someday”…. as a mother my heart was both singing and crying… kinda like when the sun shines when it’s pouring rain! Needless to say I have been touched in ways that I can ‘t describe and can not explain the significance of my life’s work as an artist.. Good God! How does one ever put a price on a portrait of a child taken too soon? I am so blessed, as I suppose all mothers are and also we feel more compelled to state these things when faced with others whose precious babies have been taken far too soon! I am so glad to be able to gift them with a lasting portrait of there child.
Many of you know that I am also a featured columnist, and have since 2006 written monthly for several publications. Here is a piece that I wrote upon completion of this project the first edition. I hope it will inspire you to give back too!
I interviewed my son, James Edward and got his perspective on the universe and his place in it. I asked him some pretty tough questions and what I got back was sometimes predictable and at other times suprising. Many of you are aware of my work through the years with children who have cancer. I have had such an amazing opportunity to be able to meet and capture so many children, but perhaps some of the most inspiring and difficult to shoot are these small miracles. Last fall, I offered to take on as part of the series of projects in my studios Art and Medicine collection, the Snowdrop Foundation and Texas Children’s Hospital.
I am a member of the Business Referral Network and this year’s bash benefits these organizations. I am pleased to present to you my second calendar benefiting cancer patients, resources and research. For the past 7 years I have dedicated part of my talent to giving back and making a difference in my community through the “Hope and Inspiration” Surviving mothers of breast cancer calendar. The latest project entitled “Small Miracles” pediatric cancer calendar has proceeds going to The Snowdrop Foundation and Texas Children’s Hospital.
When I began planning the project I knew it was going to be just like all the others and fall into place, what I did not expect was just how perfectly aligned everything would be. If I had any doubts, they were soon dispelled because at every step of planning and creating this I got confirmation or what you know I call “ a God wink!” It all started with the initial decision to take on such a project, whereas in the past I have always captured portraits of survivors… this would be a great deal more difficult; in that the participants would be children, some of which were still receiving treatment and as it were not classified as a survivor “yet.” In addition, the calendar would have to be completed by our Sugar Land Bash May 15th, not allowing me a full year to process and mentally flesh out the greatest impact such a project could have on our community. None the less… I apparently did not need much time to go through all of the usual tedious rigga ma roll!
In the process of pulling together the project, I was so touched by my own son’s answers to the interview that I wrote about last month that I decided it would be a wonderful idea to ask those same questions to these children. I had no idea what I would get; and while so many were so young to be able to understand what I was asking them, for those that did…whoa… well just get a tissue ready…I’m just saying!
Christian Alfonso at age 11, the cover of the 1st edition, when asked if he believed in heaven; at first looked at me like I was crazy to ask such a thing. He said: “ Heaven is a place that there is no sickness or pain, or distractions of any kind. There is nothing left to do but praise God!” Morgan LaRue, age 9; when asked what she wanted to eat for breakfast, lunch and then dinner, while holding her teddy bear named Chocolate just smiled and said “chocolate.” When asked what heaven was like, she said “ there’s lots of clouds and stuff whizzing around and of course they eat lots of chocolate!” Lexi Nichols at age 5 is a big horse riding, cattle roping gal and when I asked her what she was afraid of she giggled and said “nothing!” The interviews were taped as well and those will be presented at the Bash.
If I had not had the thought to do it I would have never done it but I had the idea and what an idea it was! So here I spent countless hours shooting and interviewing all these children and it dawned on me that I should write a song. Yes…. a song. I know… I know already what you’re thinking. Alisa Murray is not a song writer. And up until just a few weeks ago I would have agreed with you, but stuff fell into place and I just sat down and wrote it and my good friend, Rudy Rios, a member of a band 80 proof and Collateral Damage just happens to also be the videographer and one of my clients. He and I in about an hour put together the melody and viola… a song was born! Small Miracles will be performed by my daughter, Victoria Ann, Denise Rios, Crystal Laman, the children in the calendar and yours truly accompanied by the band 80 Proof and presented as well in Sugar Land Town Square at the Bash.
Then I had the issue of not having a place to record it and within minutes of asking I got the call that George Darsey, owner of Texas Music Marketing had offered to record it and mix it gratis! Can we say God Job?!
The children and I recorded the song and everyone was wearing my special hats designed and donated by my good friend Hanne Rickert of Fleurs et Bisoux! We all looked pretty snazzy and the hats, all done by hand drive the design of the Small Miracles calendar project each year!