Alesia’s Magnolias: Blooming only for a short while...

Written by Toula Foscolos
Taken from
While regular readers of my column know that I don’t shy away from strong opinions, I generally don’t broach very personal topics. But sometimes life requires we make exceptions.
A little over a year ago my cousin and his wife lost their two-year-old daughter, Alesia. Already the parents of another girl, they were seven-months pregnant with a third girl on the way. Life seemed perfect.
Knowing that free time was going to be at a premium in the months to come, they left their kids with their best friends and decided to get away for a bit. They were walking through the Botanical Gardens when every parent’s nightmare came true, in the form of a frantic call from their friend, informing them that Alesia was not breathing and was being transported to the Montreal Children’s Hospital. When they got there, they endured what I can only imagine was the longest wait of their lives, only to be told that their two-year-old could not be resuscitated and had died.
Living in this strange world that we do, I got the news via text from his still-shocked brother. I forwarded via text to my sister, who refused to believe the news. I texted my cousin immediately, but have to shamefully confess I could not bring myself to pick up the phone to call him for two entire days. I, who make my living with words, knew that there were no words, none at all, to offer solace to someone who had had their entire world yanked out from under them.
Attending her funeral was one of the hardest things I’ve had to experience. If one ever needs to understand how randomly cruel life can be one only has to bear witness to a tiny coffin for a two-year-old. There are no words…
Through it all, my cousin Billy and his wife Sheyda were remarkably composed and strong. I don’t know how they did it, but I have the utmost admiration for them.
This admiration only grew exponentially, when they decided to pour all their hearts and souls into organizing a family fair fundraiser in honour of her memory.
They chose the name “Alesia’s Magnolias” because, like the beautiful flowers of the Magnolia tree, Alesia bloomed only for a short, but beautiful, time in this world.
The fundraiser is not only a way of giving back to the Montreal Children’s Hospital, but also essential healing; a transforming of something so tragic, to something so hopeful. Because, it’s an indisputable fact that one can’t help another without ultimately helping themselves.
I always referred to Alesia as an "old soul" because she was never easily impressed. She had a way of staring at adults (myself included) like she knew they were full of sh-t (we usually are) and any minute now she was going to call you on it. I know that even that little cynic would be proud of what her parents are doing in her memory.
The fair is taking place this coming Sunday, May 15, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Chateau Royal Reception Hall (3500 chemin du Souvenir, Laval). Admission is $10. Raffle tickets (with some astounding prizes) can be bought online. If you’d like to donate or find out more about the event, go to: