By Jamie Leary
ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – A faculty member at an Arvada elementary school is helping a student recover from a loss through writing.
It was just six months ago, when 7-year-old Gwen Blair lost her mother to ovarian cancer.
“We were seeing that she was going into hospice and how it was affecting Gwen in class. Just that she seemed sadder and quieter. Then I remember the day that they called the kids to the office,” said Robin Gubanich, an Instructional Coach at the school.
Gubanich says when Gwen and her brother left, she along with other staff cried. It hit Gubanich hard, it was several months prior she also lost her mother to ovarian cancer.
“It felt sharp to me, just being an adult and realizing how much I miss my mom. I was sympathizing and empathizing with Gwen on what that would be like for her to not have her mom with her for so many events in her life, and I also was realizing that a lot of her memories would disappear for her because of her age and so I said ‘If you ever want to talk come talk to me because we’ve got this similar thing.’”
Robin invited Gwen to her office and proposed that they each write a book. Once a week, the pair sit down to fill the pages.
“Each time that she comes, we write a new story and we talk about our moms,” said Robin.
The impact is immeasurable.
“I think it’s healthy for both of us because there’s a point where you go from thinking about that person as a sick person to thinking about the life that that person lived.”
Gwen shared the first story she wrote:
When I was about 5, we went to the mountains.
We saw the trees change colors.
She said, ‘it’s wonderful!’
We took pictures.
We are at the mountains of colorful Colorado.
Mom had golden hair.
Robin is modest about the impact. She says teachers at the school pour their hearts into the students daily. For Gwen, the weekly meetings have been life-changing.
“I think my mom is looking down on me because she’s seen how wonderful I’m writing this story, and I think she’s just impressed that I’m writing these stories so she’s like happy for me,” Gwen said with a grin.
Robin noticed Gwen is happier.
“It just feels kind of good because we do it once a week… so the rest of the week kind of helps me feel better,” said Gwen.
Robin has talked to Gwen about publishing the book eventually. She thinks other children who have lost a parent can empathize and hopefully benefit the way Gwen has.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.