Maria: Magnificent Marvelous Me

“When you lose a sister who had pain, you feel icky inside. This book helped me with that…”

Maria and her sister had an extraordinary bond. The girls were two years apart and shared the typical joys of childhood. They played dress-up together and played hide-and-go-seek with their brothers. The shared a bedroom and went to the same school. Maria relied on her older sister, especially if she was having a tough day. They were the very best of friends.

When Gloria was diagnosed a rare childhood cancer, the entire family felt it, but especially Maria. The next four years became an arduous journey that included treatments, hospitalizations, and experimental medications.

GloriaStrauss_sisters-smShortly after Gloria’s death, Maria was given Magnificent Marvelous Me. It would prove to be a creative lifeline for a little girl facing big feelings of grief, loss, anger, and confusion. The book became a safe place for Maria to process the barrage of emotions she was feeling.

“When you lose a sister who had pain, you feel icky inside. This book helped me with that,” says Maria. The drawing prompts were particularly helpful. When she was angry, Maria would “scribble hard.” If she was having a good day, she could “spill” her happiness into it with bright colors. Most of all, Magnificent Marvelous Me affirmed that she was special and important.

“The siblings really do feel lost in the shuffle of things, in the chaos of the disease invading their space,” Maria’s mom told us, “So it is so important that each child still feels special.”

Maria_MMMe_PencilMeIn-smThe book helped her parents gain a deeper understanding into how Gloria’s illness had impacted Maria and her siblings. Maria’s dad credits Magnificent Marvelous Me for helping Maria become more vocal and open – and not be afraid to talk about Gloria or cry when she needed to. “Right away when she started to work in the book, there was a sense of ‘I’m important’ – you could see it.”

Maria summed it up best: “This book changed a lot of stuff for me. Like, I wasn’t blobbed all together. It made me open out. It really, really does help a lot.”