WHO IS CLAIRE?
Claire Elizabeth Ratliff is a beautiful little girl who lived life for the precious moments that make each day special. Her short life was all about loving others; she had a special knack for finding her way into your heart. Though she left us at 2 years and 4 months, she somehow understood what was important in life: unconditional love and caring for all those around her.
From early on, we knew Claire was extraordinary. She interacted with other children gently and thoughtfully. She was expressive in her mannerisms. Whether it was an all-over body smile or her furrowed brow followed by a question, she always found a way to make your heart smile. If you knew Claire, then you remember being asked your name. Most people struggle with remembering names, yet for Claire this came so naturally. Within the first few months of being in the hospital, she knew all four of her oncologists’ names, her nurses’ names and even her surgeon’s name. An explanation for this ability at such a young age is simple: It proves just how much she loved others. When someone makes an impression on your heart you remember their name.
Claire knew no boundaries when it came to her all-inclusive spirit. There was always space in an already cramped hospital room for one more nurse, nurse assistant or environmental service staff member. It did not matter if you were the first person in the room or the eighth, she knew you were there and you knew you were welcome. If you ever thought you could sneak in and sneak out for a quick visit with Claire, you had better just wait until you had time to hang out. She would pull you in with a question, give a sweet smile or giggle, and ask a few more questions. By the time you left the room and came down from your emotional high, you would realize you had no watch, no keys and no pen in your pocket. She had not stolen these things from you, she had simply convinced you that she needed them a whole lot more than you did. This was also her way of making sure that you would come back to see her. Once back in the room to say goodbye for a second time she would usually give you a present to take with you. She would blow you a kiss, tell you to catch it and tell you to put it in your pocket.
In her most painful days Claire was aware that those around her needed to see her smile so that they could feel okay and she naturally delivered. She showed us that love conquers all and that sharing your love with those who need it most is the greatest priority. Claire’s selfless love taught us the true meaning of life–to love whenever and wherever possible.
So, while neuroblastoma stole her body from us, her vibrant soul remains and it’s the reason we continue her legacy by caring for families fighting childhood cancer.