Both girls wanted to be there.
But there was too much barbecue and not enough car. For a moment, Kristen thought she might need to leave one of her daughters behind to make room for the lunch kits. In the end, however, Jasmin and Sage were both able to fit.
“They were holding barbecue on their laps,” said Kristen.
When the novel coronavirus began its spread across the U.S., Kristen thought first about kids with cancer.
“Childhood cancer kids are always on the forefront of my mind, you know?” said Kristen.
Kristen is a cancer mom herself. Jasmin’s twin sister, Kya, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia as an infant. She underwent treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and passed away in 2011 at 13 months.
Kristen and her husband, Pavan, have been helping families affected by cancer ever since.
So Kristen reached out to the local clinic near her Nevada home and asked what she could do.
“I was made aware they were operating on a skeleton crew,” said Kristen. “They were keeping it smaller, but still helping families. They were probably working their shifts and then some, with no breaks in between.”
A nice meal could help, they said.
She asked a local barbecue restaurant owned by a family friend to make up 40 lunches for clinic staff who worked on the pediatric infusion floor, as well as 15 family-style meals for the families who might come for chemo that day. The meals included barbecue, sides and salads.
And yes, the car was crowded, but they made it work.
Sage, who is 4, never met her older sister, and when she looks at Kya’s pictures she simply notes Kya isn’t here. Kristen and Pavan tell her Kya is in the clouds and in the grass and in the moon and in the stars, and even in the air they breathe. But they understand it will take time for Sage to know her sister.
Kristen texted to let her clinic contact know she was on her way and called once they arrived. Someone met them downstairs with a cart and it took three trips for the staff to get everything upstairs. Kristen thought about the families and felt good.
“I remember when our long days at St. Jude would turn into even longer days,” said Kristen. “It was always so nice to go back to Target House and see that there was a meal there.”
The smell of the barbecue lingers in her vehicle. The good feeling lingers in her heart.