Within seconds of her daughter's terminal cancer diagnosis, Patricia Fragen's physical and emotional exhaustion set in.
During Melissa's two-year bone cancer battle, her mother was able to pull herself together enough to take her to the doctor and to sit quietly next to her and play Scrabble. But while Fragen's world was being turned upside down, the outside world didn't halt.
The snow still needed to be shoveled, the lawn needed to be mowed, the dogs needed to be walked and the plants needed to be watered. Notices from the village threatened fines if Fragen didn't whip her lawn into shape.
While she was able to pull together a few friends and neighbors to help with the everyday things, Fragen and her daughter realized not everyone was so lucky.
One month before Melissa died, she and her mother founded Normal Moments, a non-profit organization that sends volunteers and paid service providers to help with anything families need. Services range from sending a cleaning service to the house to building a swing set for a 5-year-old boy with leukemia so he could have a safe place to play.
"The goal is to do what we can to give parents and children more quality time together, because while we really do love the wish-granting organizations, when a child is scared or not feeling well, they don't really want Disney World, they just want Mommy or Daddy," Fragen says.
Currently, Normal Moments serves 165 families in the Chicago area and just launched its first national chapter in Delaware and the greater Philadelphia region.
Danielle Braff lives with her two daughters and husband in downtown Chicago.
See more of Danielle's stories here.