Sunday, March 9, 2014
A couple of little surprises March 9, 2014 During the last couple of weeks we each had a nice surprise from Kathryn. I was telling Scott just how bad I was feeling and how much I missed Kathryn. I think this second year has been harder that the immediate and the first year anniversary. It is more real and really makes it sink in that Kathryn will not be with us as a person ever again. Scott told me he was really thinking about Kathryn and there it was for him, a penny. He finds pennies when he thinks alot about Kathryn and needs some comfort. In the book I read the author said that pennies can be a sign from our loved ones. Now I know what that doll I have is all about. The title of the doll is pennies from Heaven and she has her little hand out and has several little pennies in her hand. One day the last week of February I walked into the school building at the same time as my friend Sue. We started to talk and of course cancer came up. Her husband had a bought with throat cancer and she was telling me how a couple of other friends of theirs had the same thing too. I was telling her how I was told that Kathryn’s type of brain tumor GBM was usually found in 40 to 50 year old men and found in the frontal lobe. I have recently found or fallen upon a few young girls with GBMs and I told her that one of them was really ill and probably wouldn’t make it another week or two. She did pass away on the 4th of March at 18 years old. Her name was Amber and a beautiful girl full of love, spirit and life. Cancer is such a bad deal. There is also the 16 year old girl with the GBM (Catherine). I emailed her Mom about the T-Cell treatment. I didn’t hear from her for a couple of days but she finally responded and said she was looking into it. I’m glad to hear that. When we were in Houston this was just beginning and they would not use it on Patients like Kathryn. I’m very excited to say that our house is pretty much back in order. The kitchen is beautiful and I just got my couch and love seat back all recovered. They look beautiful. Simple like I am trying to make things here. Last weekend I spent the weekend pulling wallpaper and painting at my Mom’s house. It was fun because two of my three brothers were there. We had some good memories to share and some good laughs. My other brother had some serious foot surgery so he can’t help but he called to see how things were going and sent us some girl-scout cookies “Yum.” Scott’s been a big help too. When I first walked in it was pretty overwhelming but now it seems that it is coming together. Last Sunday, 3/2/14 I was given a sign from Kathryn. I had been feeling very down and asking for a sign from Kathryn. I asked God if I could please see her or have something that would let me know she was near. Well, My Mom and my brother Pat were all getting ready to leave my Mom’s house and we were in the garage. Now, I have been in the garage the last two weekends and even swept the garage and picked up down there. This day after asking for a sign there it was. On one of the hinges of the garage door was a green ribbon. I had not seen it before and I had looked at the garage door several times. I went over to it and said, “Do you know what this is?” I said, “This is from Kathryn’s 18th birthday party.” When my Mom and Dad moved out the house was empty around Kathryn’s birthday 2/9/09 and she asked my Mom if she and Cody (her BFFE) could have their 18th birthday party at her house. Well, of course she said yes. Kathryn and Cody decorated the garage and used those green ribbons to tie up balloons and such. As I was touching the ribbon my brother Pat came up to me and held the ribbon in his hand and said, “ You mean Kathryn’s little hands were the ones that tied this ribbon here. She was the last one to touch this ribbon. Then he held me as I broke into tears. Then I spotted another one and pointed it out. But Kathryn probably didn’t tie this one because it was up too high. We all laughed. The ribbons were either put there after I asked for a sign or they have been there for 5 years and through three different renters. I don’t know which is more believable. March is an interesting month. This is when cancer started for us. On March third 1999 I took Kathryn in for the second time and they did the cat-scan and found the tumor. On March 5th we met her surgeon and on the 8th she had her first brain surgery. Cancer has filled our lives every since then but it hasn’t taken our love or the life we still live. We still have so much and I know Kathryn is here. Not only did I find the green ribbon but I also went into her room and I could smell her so strong. I said, I know you are here Kathryn. I was borrowing some of her items for our spirit week. I knew she would love to know that I could use her things to have fun. Scott and I went to a camp-planning meeting on the 4th. There were many good ideas to make camp super fun this summer for the kids. On our way home we just missed a big accident. There was a jack-knifed semi in the middle of I-5. It just happened and I was able to drive around it and the other truck in the HOV lane. When we got home we saw it one the news and a huge back up of miles and miles. On the 5th we attended the Grapevine Event. This was also in Seattle. This is a meeting to invite new and old people who might want to or have attended the Wine Auction which is a big fundraiser for Camp. Every time I have attended one of these I meet new people who I just fall in love with. This time the speaker was a Mom of a little boy who attended the Drive-a Thon that Scott started. It was a track day that raised money for camp. This Mom spoke about how cancer changed their lives forever. They had to move from Alaska to Seattle to be closer to doctors and hospitals. Colin was diagnosed with a terrible form of Leukemia when he was 2. He has side effects that have made it so his joints don’t move. His growth is obviously stunted. He is 10 and his brother who is 3 years younger is taller than Colin. He still takes a huge amounts of meds and is watched by doctors all the time. She talked about the financial part of cancer too. The million dollar limit was reached the first 2 months of Colin’s treatment. Every year they spend 10’s of thousands of dollars out of pocket for Colin’s treatments that he still under goes. She mentioned this because she appreciates a camp for her kids that is free of charge. She understands the value of a dollar and would never be able to send her kids to camp if Camp Goodtimes was not around. She also talked about how wonderful it is for her boys to have a week of fun and she doesn’t have to worry about her sons and she is given a break. She has not been far from Colin every since he was diagnosed. She has been by his side and always watching over him. She is a full time caretaker of a very sick child. But for this one week she gets to be a woman without the worries. She knows her boys are in a safe place with nurses and doctors right there and a fun and loving staff. She gets to relax this one week. I never thought about how this week was for me until she mentioned it. It was my week to do a big project. It was my week to surprise my kids with something that I had created. I made them furniture, painted their bedrooms or maybe it was a project around that house for the family. They got to the point where they would come home and ask, “What did you do this time Mom?” I loved surprising them. It was a week for me too! This weekend Richard and Bee came down to visit. I love seeing the two of them. Richard made a delicious breakfast Saturday morning for all of us. My Mom was here too. Richard and I had a talk about feeling bitter and feeling sorry for yourself when you lose someone, meaning Kathryn. We all have those feelings but we both agreed that we can’t let those feelings take over your life. I have had those feelings and sometimes you do feel sorry for yourself but you are not alone. There are other people who have lost children and I feel sorry for them. I thought many times that I must have been a bad Mom and I was being punished for something and losing Kathryn was my punishment. But then I realize that there are so many wonderful people who have lost their children and wouldn’t deserve punishment. In fact it seems like the best parents are the ones that lose their children. I just don’t get it. So it really doesn’t have anything to do with being a good or bad parent or good or bad person. It just happens. We can’t go on feeling sorry for ourselves or being bitter because it has happened and we need to live life. Richard and I agreed that there are those sad times and when you do fee sorry for yourself but we just can’t let them be who we are. We choose to live the way we were and the way Kathryn would want us to live as best as we can. Richard, Bee and I all went over to my Mom’s house. Richard was excited to show Bee as she has heard a lot about the house. It was fun to hear him talk about how much he liked the house and I talked about how wonderful it was to grow up in this house. Then I shared with him and Bee my story about the green ribbon. I think they were a little stunned. I’m not sure how Richard takes it but I know Kathryn gave me that sign. I asked as I have before and I received just like I have before. I think if you believe you will see that the ones who have gone before us are really still here in spirit. So, tonight is the first night of the TV show “Resurrection.” Richard said it looked creepy and so did Bee. I’m curious to see how they do this show. How many of us have thought about someone coming back from the dead. You know I have. I would make it work if Kathryn were to come back. It could be complicated but I would make it work. It may be too late and I may fall asleep but Scott and I are going to try to watch it.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Tough Days! 2-18-14 Super Bowl Sunday 2/2/14 was amazing. It really kept me distracted from the day it truly represents for us. It did mark 2 years since Kathryn passed away. It was a gorgeous day just like the day she passed. I really appreciate it being sunny on that day as it helps to sooth the mood. I was busy most of they day cleaning and preparing for Richard and Bee to come over and watch the game with us. The game was really something. We had a great time watching it but it was almost embarrassing to watch the other team get pounded. We are a family that likes good competition and there was very little competition in that game. Once it was over and Richard and Bee headed back to Bellingham, it hit. I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital. My head felt like it was going to blow up. I was so down and my body felt like it was going to fall apart. I thought I was going to get the way I have been two other times. The last time I went to the ER after 15 hours of extreme pain and no sleep. Luckily I have a husband that knows how to help. He said I needed to get out and walk. Get some fresh air and so we went for a walk and it helped. I had cried all morning and my eyes were sore and I was a little off but Richard and Bee helped me pull it together. But once they were gone my guard was let down and my body just gave in. Kathryn’s death hit me hard this year. I also gained about 7 pounds because of emotions. Hopefully I can shed it and some before summer. Tuesday the 4th was a trip up to Seattle for a camp-planning meeting. It is always fun to be with our camp family. This summer is our first summer without the support of the American Cancer society so even finding a place to have meetings can be a challenge. Wednesday the 5th was Kathryn’s 23rd birthday. It pleases me so when people remember her. Whether it is on the 2nd or for her birthday the 5th it doesn’t matter. I just love it when people acknowledge that she once lived her on this Earth and brought love and joy to everyone. This year we didn’t do anything but remember her for her birthday. Our kitchen was wrapped in plastic for the most part as our cabinets were getting done. My neighbor brought flowers and a card. My good friend Robyn made a beautiful Panda picture. People sent good wishes. I appreciate all comments and wishes. Rowan’s Mom Rebecca sent me a necklace of angel wings. It arrived right on Kathryn’s birthday. On Wednesday (Kathryn’s birthday) my students in my yearbook class asked me if I believed in spirits. I told them I did and how we know Kathryn has been around. The blender going off, finding things after asking Kathryn for help and then my neighbors having a ghost in their house. A little girl, Kathryn’s size and hair color that appeared just days after Kathryn died. It was an interesting conversation. Wednesday night we had a grapevine event. This is an evening that is used to give potential donors for the wine auction a chance to get acquainted with camp. We have snacks, wine and beer, there is a speaker, which I have done in the past, and just a chance for them to met us and get to hear our story and what camp means to us. I met Louise at the grapevine. She was in the Air Force and her Husband is retired from the Air Force. I think he was high up in rank. Anyhow they lost their 25 year old daughter to brain cancer. That was years ago but as she spoke you could see in her eyes and hear in her voice that is was just like yesterday to her. I could see that it won’t ever stop. The pain of losing a child never goes away. At the grapevine event I also made sure I thanked the two board members that were there. They are two of the people who said, “Well if the ACS isn’t going to sponsor or support camp for these kids with cancer any more we need to get going and do something to make sure it keeps going.” They did! They put together the paper work to get a project together that has 501-C3 status (nonprofit) so we could start fundraising. They named it “The Goodtimes Project.” They couldn’t call it Camp Goodtimes at the time because we didn’t have clearance from the ACS yet. To this date we still don’t have the money from the ACS that was designated for Camp Goodtimes. Thank goodness we started fundraising immediately because we wouldn’t have camp this summer 2014 without the funds we have been raising. Any how I thank Bacon and Puck for their efforts. While talking to Puck she shared that her sister just passed away 1 ½ years ago from cancer. Wow! She deals with this all the time since she is a nurse in the oncology department at Children’s. She is an amazing woman. She gives her vacation time to volunteer at camp to work once again with her patients. I’m sure it is also rewarding for her to see her patients having fun at camp. I was so glad I made the effort to talk to Puck and Bacon. They were both so appreciative that I came up and thank them for their time and effort to keep camp going. Puck said that camp gives her a mission in life as it has for Scott and myself. She said, you need something to focus on and to keep you going. She is right. Having Camp has helped our entire family. Scott, Richard and myself have all reaped the benefits of camp. Being volunteers have given us all purpose and a special way to honor Kathryn. The kitchen is getting done. When they offered this week (Feb 3rd through the 7th) for us and a 15% discount; I really had to think about it. I didn’t want to have the kitchen out of commission as we usually would have a party for Kathryn but we did it. It all worked out. They didn’t finish until Saturday and actually still have a couple of things to do. But for the most part it is done and looks great!!!! Ziggy, a young lady from camp that was a good friend of Kathryn wrote to me this week. She is writing a book about cancer and wants to include a part about Kathryn. She loved Kathryn and was inspired by her strength and consideration for others. She had heard that Kathryn had relapsed and asked Kathryn about it while at camp in July of 2011. Kathryn told her that she had relapsed but didn’t want to talk it about it because she was here (at camp) for the kids and wanted to make it their best camp ever. Ziggy wanted to make sure it was ok with our family to mention Kathryn in the book. I told her since her book was to help young people with cancer I think Kathryn would be happy to be part of the book. She would want to give others hope and peace in their time of need. This will be a book that I will read. Some of you will understand that comment. Cancer strikes our friend Nick for the 3rd time. This young man is turning 17 in April. He was just re-diagnosed with Leukemia. He started with a brain tumor and his treatment gave him Leukemia. At that time he could not have any more radiation and chemo is not considered affective. He had a bone marrow transplant and it was successful. Well, for almost 6 years. Just when you think you are out of the woods this beast comes back. It appears to be the same type of Leukemia (it’s sad that I can now spell that word) but in only on chromosome instead of two. I’m not sure what that means but I think it is better than two. I don’t know what treatment they will seek out but radiation and chemo are not in the picture. They will use chemo but knowing it will not cure him. Our little friend Colton is doing well on the T-Cell treatment. Remember he went to Philly and received his T-Cells around Thanksgiving or Christmas. So far so good! Yeah! There is also another little girl who received this same type of treatment who is also doing well. So I suggested to Nick’s Mom to ask about this treatment for Nick. You get low on options after a while. The T-Cell treatment is very new and there are only a few children to have ever received this treatment. They have only used it for Leukemia and only in the past year or so. Maybe it is the one! Nick is the little boy Kathryn told us about from camp. He had a crush on her and brought her flowers and asked her to the dance her third year there. We became friends from camp. The other day one of the men on the wine auction committee made a comment about camp. He had been taking photos at Children’s in the oncology department. One of the girls has been to camp and the other has not. The one was sharing her joys of camp and they were planning what week they would both go. He shared some other stories too. When I was at the camp planning meeting Beef (the director) said that February is like Wednesday at camp. Wednesday is the half way mark where some people are burned out and need a break but still looking forward to each day. Oh, I remember February like this: Christmas is over; Birthdays are over so now we focus on camp. We need to make sure we get our applications in so we don’t miss out. We think and talk about camp and our friends at camp until that day we get on the ferry. Richard and Kathryn would start thinking about songs and skits and when old enough what position they would have at camp. Every year it was the same. Once birthdays were over talk of Camp would begin! Camp is big for these kids. They talk about it all year long. They call each other to see what week they are going. They get excited to see their camp friends who they may not have seen in a year. Camp is a family and it creates bonds that last a lifetime. There is a new man involved with camp this year. It is kind of funny how he came in too. He was inquiring about a job and accidently sent his message back about not taking the job on the wrong email address. Well, That email address got the attention of one of the wine auction committee members and asked him if he would like to see what camp and the wine auction are all about. Well, George said he would like to check it out and is now onboard. He gets it! He understands the bond that is formed by these kids. He understands the family and the commitment that is there. He is going to volunteer at camp too. The 9th was Richard’s birthday. Of course I thought about how I would make cakes for Richard and Kathryn. For the family birthday party I always make a cake that was half Richard and half Kathryn. The last one I made was for their 20th and 24th birthday. I took the cake to Bellingham. We had a small little family birthday there. This year we went to my Mom’s house in Eatonville. Richard and Bee were at the cabin in Packwood so it was nice to have us all meet at my Mom’s. My brother Mike was there and my brother Pat and his wife Gin. Bee’s Mom and Grandma even drove down from Seattle. The kid is special. It was a nice little gathering and I think Richard appreciated it. It’s nice to be acknowledged on your birthday. I know I am very happy that little guy arrived on that Monday morning. The 10th was my principal’s brother’s birthday. He lost his brother in October. I knew it was a hard day for him. There isn’t much you can do but let someone know that you are thinking about them. I really worry about his Mom. That had to be a very hard day for her. I feel really bad because they have really been pounded. I mean just one special day after another. Wedding anniversary, Thankgiving, Christmas, Birthday and they all came in a very short period of time. Father’s day will be tough for the kids. I remember after my Dad died it was a day that just seemed so hard to even think about. It’s not special when your Dad isn’t there anymore. What is Father’s day without a Dad? I know my Mom is having a hard time with being alone. She really misses my Dad. He was a good man that loved her so much. They did so much together even if it was just sitting around having coffee. It is hard to lose a loved on and special days are hard to face. Hell the whole month of February has been difficult for me. Maybe we should have had a birthday party for Kathryn. Maybe that is what’s missing. I don’t know but this year is tough. On the 14th I donated blood. I was reading the poster on the wall and found more interesting things about blood donations. First, only 35% of the population can donate blood but only 5% of them actually donate. Did you know that a pint of blood only has 2 ounces of platelets in it? That may only be one ounce I can’t remember for sure. That’s not a lot. I remember Kathryn getting two bags of platelets at one time. It had to take a lot to get two bags. The platelets help your blood clot. Any how they draw blood from people and spin out the platelets, put the blood back in and draw more blood and spin out more platelets and continue this process until they have a bag full which takes an hour or two. I thought we were so lucky to have people that are willing to donate. I remember when Scott’s Dad was really sick we had friends and family go to the hospital and donate platelets because he needed so much. His leukemia seemed to just suck up the platelets as fast as they were given. On the 15th I went to a cross fit session that was a benefit for camp. We sold $265 in Panda shirts that day. That made me feel really good! It was cold but a lot of fun. Camp events just bring so many good people and you just can’t help but feel good about life and others when you attend these events. Speaking of camp events, we are having a benefit on August 16th at our house for camp. We will be selling tickets for $50. Of course there will be things to buy the day of the event, donations can be made and you will also be able to win prizes during the raffle. We will have food, drinks and live music! It will be a fabulous event. Today, the 18th of February I am getting Richard’s graduation announcements ready to send out. It’s funny how life is. I received in the mail a week or so ago, information for graduation announcements for Kathryn. It didn’t hurt. It actually made me smile. How great it would have been to have both of them graduating in March from the school I graduated from in December of 1982. I would have been so proud to watch both of them probably arm in arm walk down that isle together. I know they would have worked it out that they would have walked together. Just the same I am so proud of Richard. I always knew he was a good boy and smart as all get out but I didn’t really know if he would go to college or not. He has made us very proud and I know he is an amazing teacher. He loves others and has the compassion and understanding that it takes for this job. He will do well and inspire some young people to make positive changes in their lives. I also watched the news last night and they featured a boy from Puyallup who is dying from a brain tumor. They are having a special graduation for him next month since he will probably not make it to the regular graduation. He may be too ill by then or not around. He only has three months to live. But he has a good attitude. He said he is not mad because you are not guaranteed tomorrow. He said that God has him now. I think it is great that the school is doing this graduation for him. It is kind of like Kathryn’s Christmas party. It is a great way to say good-bye in a happy time. A time where the person dying can enjoy your company and is feeling well enough to enjoy the time themselves. Everyone should have a send off like this. I hope we all remember that tomorrow is not promised to us and we can look at today as a gift to cherish. Love you all, Carol
Sunday, February 2, 2014
The 2nd Anniversary of Kathryn’s Passing I have new students for my publications class this semester. They are all 8th graders and none of them are in any of my math classes so they don’t know me at all. One little girl and I were talking after school about how the use the camera and taking pictures that evening at the high school. She noticed my pictures on the wall and asked if I do Relay for Life. I told her that I did it for years. And then she said she does it here in Fife. Something was said and I told her that Kathryn had passed away two years ago. Then she looked at me again and asked, “Did you speak at the first Fife Relay? Did you speak during the Luminaria Ceremony?” I said, that I was the one. She told me that I was a great public speaker and that she cried as I spoke. She was amazed that I was the one that she heard that night. Yep, I did speak and I will do more as life goes on I’m sure. I remember telling Kathryn one time that she was hope for others and she was there inspiration. I told her that when people with cancer saw her and her beautiful smile she gave them hope and encouragement. She said, “I know Mom.” That is why she did everything she could to face her cancer with a smile and be so brave. She knew others were watching and she knew she needed to give them hope and encouragement. She did just that. The other patients in the radiation waiting room told me that her smile and cheerful attitude helped them realize that they could do this. Still funny to this day, Kathryn felt the same about them. She noticed all of the “Old People” (little old ladies and little old men) and she said if they could do it so can I. We never know the affect we have on others. Last night was the eve of Kathryn’s passing and weird things were going on. We were watching TV and an orb appeared on the screen. A yellowish green orb that was reflecting like a glass prism. Then the show went off for a moment and back on. We were watching it through Netflex. It did this about three times. Not all the same but it stopped and reloaded one time. The first time it happened I told Scott to stop touching the button. The remote was across the room. We both decided Kathryn was here. I didn’t say this to Scott last night but I could smell her. He said he could feel her presence. She was here! We were watching the last three episodes of Dexter. When his sister Debra was put on the breathing machine it brought back memories and really made me think. I thought about how Kathryn was on the breathing machine and then how they took her off. When they took her off she immediately sat up and held her throat while turning purple and blue and said, “I can’t breathe.” They immediately bagged her and re-inserted the tube. She wasn’t able to breathe on her own. The tumor had grown and stopped her ability to make air come in and out. Then I thought, how could that have ever improved so that she could come home. I would imagine that once a tumor does this there is no returning. But Kathryn was taken off of the breathing machine and able to come home. Was this a small miracle created for her and us so she could come home? Was this God’s way of letting us share one last Christmas together. It must have been some kind of small miracle because they only talked about her being on that breathing machine forever. Then finally we had a Doctor who realized that we should try letting her breath on her own. She did have a trac put in. Why not? She is in the safest place she could be. She was monitored in several ways. If anything went wrong they would be there in a second. We already witnessed how fast they move in the ICU and with definite moments that are so right on and perfect. The fact is that they worked on getting her home. They worked on getting enough information that would say she would be safe to go home without a breathing machine. As an adult they would not send her home on a breathing machine. She would have been sent to some care facility, not home. I have never thought about how it all had to play out to get her home. We were lucky to have her come home. I know she didn’t like hospitals at all. Scott and I had always promised her (since she was 8) that we would never put her in the hospital unless it was absolutely necessary. In Houston we left the hospital at 11pm and even 2 am after her transfusions were done. She didn’t want to stay there and we told the nurses that we were not going to stay. Last night was a difficult night. I had a hard time getting to sleep. I cried and watched TV until my eyes were so sore and heavy I had to close them. I was just awake enough to turn the TV off and then I was out. All I could think about was two years ago I was laying next to Kathryn and I knew it was coming. I told her that if Jesus came to take her tonight, please tell him you don’t want to go. This morning I woke about the time that I realized that something was going on with Kathryn. The sign was her blood pressure. I had watched go up ever morning starting about 5am. This morning it wasn’t going up. I knew something was changing. There was either going to be a miracle and she was going to be getting better or she was slowing down and the end was soon. I lay there for a bit with her just hoping it was the better of the two. And then her oxygen got low. I called Richard in as he was just across the hall. We talked about the situation and cleared her airway with the suction machine. It helped a little. We both knew this was it. He said he would not bag her and I agreed. This made me think of our friend who told me in love not to try to save her but to let her die in peace and with dignity. Don’t’ put her through a bunch of stuff for yourself. And so, here it was that time. I had Richard get Scott and Grandma. It is 7:55 right now as I write and we were all with her at this time. She took her last little breath at about 8:17. She was amazing! She was beautiful inside and out. I was the luckiest Mom ever to have such a wonderful daughter. She made me proud! Speaking of proud. Richard makes me so proud. I was telling my students about his different hairstyles he has had and one student said in jest “You must be so proud of him.” I said, I am proud of him. He is a wonderful young man. Friday (1/31/14) Richard had a student in his class have a severe asthma attack. He was walking the kid to the nurse and he went down because he couldn’t breath. Richard knew exactly what to do. He got 911 and the boy was fine. Someone said that the boy had a seizer and Richard was quick to give the correct information. He didn’t have a seizer. They asked how he was so certain. He said his sister had brain cancer and had a seizer and he was there throughout all of it. Nobody knew about Kathryn expect the teacher he had done his student teaching under. They were probably really taken back. But he had the experience to handle this situation. I am proud of him. He is an amazing young man. He and Bee will be here this afternoon to watch the Super Bowl with us. I’m so glad they are coming over. This day is just too hard to do without being surrounded by loved ones. It never gets easier. The pain spreads out more but the loss and pain are still there. I fear that people even myself will forget Kathryn. I never want that to happen. I want her to live in our hearts forever. Hugs those around you and tell them you love them. Go Hawks!
Sunday, January 26, 2014
It is hard to believe what this little list that just jumped onto my computer has to say. All children all have died or are dying of cancer. All have parents wondering why this is happening to their child. One thing that they all have in common and even in common with Kathryn is that they all have a strong spirit that they are wiling to fight this disease and all fight it with such grace and enthusiasm. All of them have others say they are an inspiration to them. Others have commented how they are so brave and so up beat. It is amazing how the young handle bad situations like dying. I know Kathryn wanted to protect us from pain in our hearts so she did keep her cheerful ways through all of this. She also didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for her as she had a good life. 14 year old from camp died on buried on Dec 20th 8 year old died on Dec 25th 17 year old diagnosed with GBM (Catherine) about one year ago in November 19 year old diagnosed with GBM now 21 but it is back (Amber) re-growth after 2 years not good. She was two years out in November. Sounds like the doctors have given up. Unfortunately they have seen it over and over again and could tell you what you expect. They try to give you hope and do their best but … Chelsea still a child but around 17 also has a GBM and was diagnosed in June of 2013 . Ryan in his early 20’s GBM Diagnosed Dec 17th 2012 What I noticed about this list is the Websites that I looked at seemed to tell just the opposite about the GBM. It says that it is usually found in men that are 40 and up. But Kathryn, Catherine, Chelsea and Amber are all girls in their teens. Ryan may be a guy but he too is very young. What is going on? And Amber came home on Wednesday 1/22 to die. They are to that point. Still she is taking her oral chemo to try to stay alive. Again I am amazed by her strength and willingness to try to keep fighting this beast within her. Through Amber’s site I met a Mom who lost her daughter two years ago in October. She was 16 and was diagnosed at 11. She had Ewing’s Sarcoma. After she wrote to me telling me what she had I just wanted to hug her. It is a horrible cancer that causes tumors in the bones and is extremely painful. I can’t imagine watching your child suffer with this pain like she must have. You have heard people say, “If I can just make it through this day.” Or maybe you have said or thought, “I just want this day to be over.” I heard phrases like this from a couple of people dealing with death. My principal, when I asked how the holidays went said, “He was just glad to have them over.” It wasn’t easy going through the holidays without his brother who should have been there with his family sharing joy and laughter. No, our loved ones are gone and we don’t get to sit with them and hear their voices. We don’t’ get to laugh with them and enjoy their silly ways. Jeff’s Mom is still having a very difficult time. She met with some specialist to help her get over this deep depression. They need to sort out the medications so she can have a clear mind. It must be so difficult to watch as your mother goes through this. I hope I didn’t put my loved ones through too much as I wasted days crying and lying on the couch. I would like to offer her my viewpoint and maybe she can see that life can go on even when you lose a child. The quote from my last blog said something like when you help others heal you also help yourself heal. This is so true. Another person who lost a close relative made the comment, “I just want this day to end.” There are those days that need to just get over. I thought about when I might have felt that way. You may think someone like me would have felt that way on the day of Kathryn’s service but it was just the opposite. It went too fast and I didn’t want it to be over. That in a way meant Kathryn was over. I didn’t want this closer that is suppose to happen. I didn’t want an end to her life. However the thought of, I just want this life to get over has crossed my mind so many times. I’m sure it has for many Moms and Dads that have lost a child. Don’t worry I would never take my life but the thought of the world just ending so I could be with Kathryn sounds pretty good at times. I have Richard, Scott and others that keep me alive and well. Richard is my son and brings us so much joy. He has made us proud beyond what we ever thought would be possible. I live to see him grow. I live to see what life brings and it is good. Some amazing things have happened too. You know Scott and I both believe that Kathryn is around. Or at least her spirit is here and she helps us with things from time to time. Well her friend that she met up at college, Allie had lost her rings. She took them off and couldn’t find them. I sent a message to her telling her I hope she finds them. She then replied that one of them was a ring she had engraved for Kathryn. Then within a minute or two she sent another message to me saying she was thinking strongly about Kathryn and immediately found the ring. Yes, only one ring and it was the one she had engraved for Kathryn. She and I both know that Kathryn helped her find that ring. On Monday the 20th we had the owner of the cabinet company come over to go over the job one last time. He wanted to make sure they had everything just right. He was the kind of guy who liked to joke with you. He was teasing me the whole time. I kind of found it weird that a total stranger would tease me like this. I was ok with it and we laughed a lot. Then he said something about my computer. Well, it is Kathryn’s computer. It has a purple cover and is covered in stickers. He said it looked like some college student’s computer. I told him that it was a college student’s computer. It was my daughter’s computer. In my mind I was thinking do I tell him why I use her computer? Is this something I want to share with this man that I just met? And then for some reason I told him about her. You could see his heart break into a million pieces right then and there. As we talked I told him about Camp Goodtimes. He said he would like to help. I was wearing a Panda t-shirt and I told him he could order one. Then he said, “Wait, I have something.” He pulled a $100 bill from his wallet to donate to Camp Goodtimes. I was in awe. He didn’t really know me and he just handed me $100. He had won it the day before in a Seahawk bet. I said, “Good thing they won.” He was thinking of his two children in their teens. He just couldn’t imagine….. We talked for a long time and when he left I wish I would have given him a hug rather than a hand shake. I could tell he wanted one or wanted to give one but the handshake happened too quickly. If he comes over to check out the job I will definately give him that hug. Have you seen the ads for the new show resurrection? Wow, this will hit a bunch of people. You have no idea how many times I have asked for Kathryn to be returned. The thoughts that go with it. How do we reintroduce her into the world? How do we have her find her way back into a life that has moved on? What about legal things. How do you explain how this person that was given a death certificate is now alive and well. I know I have gone through all of these thoughts in my mind and figured each and everyone of them out. I have explained to God that I would tell everyone about the miracle. I would make his name known again. I would get people back to believing. It will be interesting how the writers of this show deal with all of the issues that I have thought about. I think it comes out in March. I told Scott that I had asked God many times for her return. I told him that I also think about this and wonder if I am selfish. Would I really want her to return to this place when she is with God and in a place without hate, hurt, disease or suffering? How could I even ask for her to leave a place that would be so wonderful? Yes, I am selfish but I am also human. Maybe I don’t ask for this as I used to knowing that it is a selfish request. Now that I think about it I have changed this request for just a moment to see her. A moment with her to talk to her. When we were in California I talked with a man by the pool who said he saw his dad after his death. He and his dad sat and talked and talked for hours one night. His wife confirmed that she witnessed this happening. I have asked for this to happen to me. I would love to have a chance to talk to Kathryn. To hear her sweet voice. Last night we went to the Firemen’s Ball. It was a benefit for Camp Goodtimes as well as raising money for Coats for Kids. I ran into my old soccer buddy (Faith) there. She is basically like my little brother’s boss. She isn’t chief but the next step down. She said she was sorry to hear about Kathryn and said it never gets easier does it? I didn’t know that she really knew. A bit later she told me about her son. When he was 23 he had just graduated from college and he and a few buddies were out cliff jumping. He landed wrong and it killed him. He did get to the hospital but he died there. I could tell it was killing her to tell me about him. She didn’t want to talk about it so I asked about her other son. She knew. She really knew. I told her how sorry I was for her too. She is different from when I knew her. I don’t know if she is different because of this loss 5 years ago or if her position in life has changed her. She was one of the goofiest girls on the team. She was always laughing and silly. Now she is very serious and it was hard to get a smile from her. But she did smile. She said you just push through life. I think she hurts so much from her loss that she lost part of herself. I watched her and she did smile and even laugh a little here and there during the evening but still not the Faith I once knew. The benefit went well for Camp. One of the firemen had started a project to fix the golf carts that we use at camp. We use them to move things around and to transport kids who can’t get around well. Some of the kids have difficulties with balance and/or sight. Some are on treatment and just weak and need a ride. Well, the fireman found some guys that took on this project and wow did they make these golf carts over the top. They did them up in red, black and silver. They made them like little fire trucks. One has lights on top, a stereo, a hand bell, and lights that shine underneath. It also has Camp Goodtimes cut out of the steel and it lights up. The other one has a flat bed that is wood and metal. The sides of this one are shortened ladders. The work and attention to detail is amazing. One of the guys was talking to us and really, really wants to be there when the carts are shown to the kids. He is so excited to be part of a project that will help children with cancer. The family that spoke that night were great. The two boys shared their love of camp. One a sibling and one a survivor. The mom spoke about their battle with this disease. Her son was sent home on palitative care. Which means, they were going to make him comfortable as his life comes to an end. I hate that word. But they found a doctor that could do the surgery and save their son. Andrew is now a young man and wants to be a camp counselor. He did his training last year but has to take this year off. That is the camp policy. Their father did not get up to speak. He told me he was just too emotional. He has heard a lot about Panda and just meeting us and talking to us made him emotional. Well, emotions are good. I too get very emotional. As I watched the video and listened to his family speak I got emotional. I get very emotional every time I write this blog. In fact this morning I told myself that I wasn’t going to cry as I wrote this one. Well, I had tears running down my face after typing the second line. My emotions take over. I just don’t know how it happens but it does. Now some fantastic news. Richard finished his student teaching on Friday 1/24. He is now a certificated teacher. He also landed a teaching job at the same school he did his student teaching. It is only one class a day but he will be able to sub or work at the tutoring center at Whatcom Community College. He is very excited. And his girlfriend Bee just received a killer raise at her job. She has only been there two months and her raise was very significant. She must be doing a great job. So life is good and worth living through the pain of loss. Scott and I are planning a huge Backyard Benefit for Camp. I reached out to a friend for music and he said it is done. He is family and so very willing to help. I love his attitude and how he didn’t even hesitate to say yes. Super Bowl is Sunday February 2nd. We are all excited about the Seahawks going. Kathryn hated when Super Bowl fell on her birthday 2/5 or close to it. Well this year it is on the 2nd anniversary on her death. Yes, it will be two years exactly one week from today. I remember thinking last year around October or November how I never wanted that one year anniversary to come and now it is two years. It never gets easier and you do push through life. Some of us push through a little easier than others. Promise me you will think of Kathryn (Panda) on Super Bowl Sunday. As we all cheer our team she will be watching us. In a funny way she will be cursing the idea that Super Bowl has interrupted her Birthday weekend. Her birthday is the 5th and she would have had a party on the 1st more than likely. We will be taking apart our kitchen that weekend to have the cabinets redone. We usually have had a birthday party for her the last three years but will not this year. So, All of you will need to wish her a happy birthday in your own way on the 5th. I was just thinking about Faith. She said something about me having Camp to support and work for. I think I am lucky to have this as a purpose in life. It is a way to direct our love of Kathryn in a way that helps others. It is a way to keep her alive. I think Faith may have had a little envy in her voice not in a bad way but in a way that she needs something like I have that keeps me going in a positive direction while pushing through life. She noticed that it helps me. Love to all – Pushing through life with the most positive attitude that I can.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Seconds 12/29/13 It is the second year for many things. As I sat down to write this I could smell something a bit different. I really believe it is Kathryn here with me. She knows how hard it is for me to write but how good it is for me to do it as well. Thanksgiving was not difficult even though it was our second Thanksgiving without Kathryn. It was the first time that I had gone to my brother Pat’s for Thanksgiving. It was nice to be there. After Thanksgiving I had a chat with my Principal to see how things went for him. He said it was ok. We talked about his nephew and how he may not be dealing with his father’s death in the best way. I said that everyone deals with it differently and some choose ways that aren’t so good. They hurt themselves and unknowingly or not meaning to hurt those around them. It is hard to watch others deal with a loss in a manner that is self-destructive. We also talked about the memories. I have tons of memories in my house. I would never take them down or hide them. Kathryn was and is part of my life and who I am. I gave birth to her and loved her and still love her with all of my heart. As I hung Christmas lights outside I thought of Kathryn. She loved to put lots of lights up. The more the better. She would climb in the trees to hang the lights and even get a friend to help. She always helped me put the ornaments on the tree too. We would hang them and then reorganize them until they were perfectly spread around the tree. I made cookies too but not the roll out sugar cookies which were her favorites to make. I didn’t have a kitchen until a few days before Christmas so that was out. Besides, it just isn’t as much fun to do without someone to share it with. My principal also sent me a video clip of Joe Bidden talking with parents and family members of soldiers who had died. He said, “I will send it to you but you don’t want to watch now.” He knew it would bring tears to my eyes. I didn’t know that Joe Bidden had lost his entire family in a car accident. His wife and children all gone in one accident. How devistating! He told the parents about his story and he also shared that he was a strong Catholic at the time. Many people of faith have found it hard to believe that a loving God could allow something so tragic to happen. How could the God we were taught about who loves us unconditionally take our children? How could he allow our children to be ripped away from us like this? We were given this beautiful gift of a child and then to have it taken away… Some people stop believing in a loving God after such a loss. I for one have only come to believe more. I still don’t understand why my child was taken but I will some day. Joe Bidden also made an interesting comment. He said that now when you think of your loved one tears come and then maybe a smile will appear. He promised that there will be a day that you think of your loved one and a smile will come first. Maybe just a smile and no tears. It is true, that day does come. It is so strange how I can talk about Kathryn and not shed a tear and just share her joy and other times I just break down and cry. I can’t get a single word out without crying. We also talked about feeling guilty about being happy. You do feel that way. If you find yourself singing or whistling you stop for a moment and think that you should be sad for the loss of your loved one not happy. But I think finding those moments of joy are good. Our loved ones would never want us to sit around feeling sad. They would want us to embrace life and live life with happiness and joy. Just a day or so before Christmas break one of my students was looking at the pictures on my wall. She asked me, “Are Cody and Kathryn married?” There are a couple of cute pictures of her and Cody up on the wall. I told her they were BFF and Eternity. I told her that they had vow that if they both were unmarried at 30 they would get married to each other. But I said, Kathryn isn’t here any more to do that. You could see the look in her face as she remembered that Kathryn had died. Her heart sunk. I said it has been really hard on Cody. He hasn’t been able to come over to our house since Kathryn died. He has made some bad choices but I think he is getting back on track. He lost his very best friend and his rock. He could go to Kathryn with anything and she would be there for him. I received this quote recently. I thought it was very fitting and true. “To rejoice in another's prosperity, is to give content to your own lot: to mitigate another's grief, is to alleviate or dispel your own.” ― Thomas Edwards On my Dad’s birthday 12/19 I was at the blood bank giving blood. I noticed that it was very busy. There was a group that seemed to be together. One woman was unable to give because of low iron. In the back room where you give blood there was young man and across from him this jolly man trying to keep him smiling. This was his father. The Dad was doing his best to keep things light. I know how you try as the parent to make things better for your children. Their 15 year old son and brother was in the ICU. He had a rare tumor on his lung. They had to take the lung and they were all donating blood to help. Like the aunt said, “This is the only thing we could think of to do to help.” They wanted to do something but there really isn’t much anyone can do but be there. She told me that Monday 12/23 would be the day that they decide on things or know what would be happening. It was like Monday was going to be the day the doctors told them if he would be able to survive or not. I thought of this family and wanted to comfort them but I too was at a loss of what to do. I didn’t even know their names. All I could do was ask God to bring them comfort and peace. Feeling sad and missing Kathryn more this year than ever before. I jotted this down to remember what I was feeling. I know I had been cranky and tired for the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas break. I hadn’t been sleeping and crying a bit more than usual about Kathryn. She brought so much joy to us. I think this year was harder than the first. I don’t know why. The pain fades but never goes away. It is our second holiday season without her. As we have been going through things (forced to by the flood) we keep finding things of Kathryn’s. I swear she left things for us to find. I found something and now I don’t remember what it was but I jotted down “Life with Happiness and Joy.” So, Scott and I were out shopping for Christmas gifts and there were these beautiful ornaments. There was one that was so perfect for my Mom and two that Kathryn would have loved. I thought about being a weirdo buying one for my daughter who had died but then I thought that I should just do it. If she would have been shopping with me she would have talked me into buying it. She could talk me into just about anything. She made everyone melt, especially my Dad. When we finally bought our Christmas tree the man there knew of Camp Goodtimes. He worked for the Rural Ambulance Service. I think I messed up the name. They do a fundraiser for camp each year and buy a table at the wine auction. He also knew of Kathryn’s ride home. He heard about the truck getting stuck in our driveway. You don’t hear about ambulances getting stuck in the snow or ice too often. It was quit a connection that we made. Almost two years later and the tacks are still there on the road from the ambulance. This was also the second year that I adopted a family for Christmas. This is through and organization called Candlelighters. This organization helps families who have children going through cancer treatment and have financial needs. I will do this every year. It was very important to Kathryn that we always picked a name or two or three from the giving tree. They adopted out 58 families this year. My friend and I went in on it together. Her daughters went crazy shopping. They received donations from church members and by the time we were ready to deliver the gifts we had four big bags full. When I first read the list of items the kids wanted it sounded familiar. Then I read the names. This was the same family as I had last year. Another second. When it came time to deliver the gifts I could not get hold of the family. The phone numbers I was given wouldn’t work. I finally found out that the little one was back in the hospital. He has leukimia. He was at Mary Bridge. So my friend, her 2 daughters and I all went to Mary Bridge on the 24th. The three of them headed back to the room and I stood at the reception desk. I just couldn’t go at that time. Then the receptionist and I were talking and she noticed the tears filling my eyes and handed me a box of tissues. I explained my situation. I shared how two years ago we were in ICU with Kathryn. She shared a bit with me about the family. The child (21 months) is terminal. His mother hadn’t been there for a while. The family doesn’t visit much. I asked who visits with him. She said, volunteers, nurses and people like us. He calls everyone Mama. I had to suck it up at that point. I knew I would be very mad at myself if I hadn’t spent at least a little time with him. When I went back to the room there were my friends playing and laughing with him. I joined in for a little peek-a-boo. He laughed and giggled. The nurse recognized my name and even called me Kathryn at one point. The doctor for this child is Kahtryn’s doctor. The receptionist also told me that it was not uncommon for families to stop visiting when they know their child is terminal. Wow, I know how much it meant to Kathryn to have me lay right next to her. She didn’t want to ever be alone. I told the receptionist that I couldn’t even bring myself to leave the hospital. I actually had a small panic attack when the elevator doors opened and I was supposed to go inside and head home to take a shower. I couldn’t step foot into that elevator. There was no way I could leave Kathryn for that long. Just so you know I didn’t go dirty either. I took showers in her bathroom. I hope to visit our little friend again. My friend went there on Christmas day and was really quizzed about who she was and what not. She had just missed the Dad and the child was sleeping. I was glad to hear that Dad had been there. I know the child had reached out several times to be held while we were there. It is hard to do when they are hooked up to several IVs. He was getting platelets while we were there. I thought to myself, this is where my blood goes. My blood goes to babies because I am CMV negative. I’m also O negative so anyone can get my blood. I can’t help but think of that poor child leaving this Earth and not being in the arms of one of his parents when he goes. I know that the nurses will be there for him. They are wonderful people. I didn’t mention that the receptionist asked me if we feel Kathryn’s presence. Yes, I told her of some of our experiences like the blender going off. Then I remembered that just the night before that her cat Klyde was going crazy. He kept looking out like he was looking at someone. Then he was chasing something (nothing there). He even got in our bathtub and chased something around and around. We both looked at each other and said, “Kathryn must be playing with Klyde.” She is here right now. I smell her again. That’s because we are talking about her with Mitch and his girlfriend. I was finally able to put my house back together starting on the 20th. I couldn’t touch the kitchen until the 23rd though. There was so much to do that I had no time to think about being sad. We had outside lights to put up, a Christmas tree to buy and decorate, the stuff from the china hutch to put back, all the decorations to put up around the house and presents to buy and wrap. I had bought a few things but needed to go out one more time. Christmas was perfect. We went to Seattle with Bee’s family for Christmas Eve. My Mom and Scott’s sister and family were with us too. It was a fun night. On Christmas Day we had early morning stocking opening and then a break to do a few things for dinner prep. Then we opened gifts. Richard passed them out. Richard thought Kathryn would like the ornament I picked out for her. I gave him one from our vacation in Hawaii. He gave Scott and I each something with a Panda. I received two Panda covers for my phone and Scott got a Panda tin of cookies. I’m really glad to see that he embraces the memory of Kathryn. He also bought me these beautiful hand painted wine glasses. Something he knew I would love. This was a very relaxing Christmas. It didn’t feel rushed or fast. Sometimes it feels like Christmas just zips on by but this year I was able to savor the moment. I enjoyed the time with my family and everyone seemed to enjoy each other. It was perfect. After Christmas I think I am feeling a bit depressed. All of the hustle is gone and it is quiet and there is no schedule to meet. I think not having a schedule is the hardest part. I think that allows the depression to creep in. I’m ok but I know it is there. I think about retiring and wondering if I can handle it. I know I will never fully retire. I will have to do something. I will do something part time after I leave teaching. I look forward to a good 2014. I hope to keep Kathryn’s spirit alive and live as she lived. She loved with her whole heart. She shared with others to help them better themselves. She cared for all of us far more than she cared for herself. She gave and when she received she was grateful and thankful. She knew she had a good life and wanted those around her to have a good life too. I hope to become the person my daughter was while she was here on this Earth. I can’t think of a better person for me to want to be like than Kathryn. “A healthy attitude is contagious but don't wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.” ― Tom Stoppard This was another quote that I thought was a good one. I hope for all of you a wonderful 2014. May it be filled with love, happiness, joy, and health. Love to all, Carol
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Thanksgiving is coming 2013 We set up the www.pandatees.com website. Kathryn’s t-shirts and the panda shirts are all on sale now. Only $20 a shirt! You can also buy crew neck sweatshirts and hoodies. We will also start making stickers too. I’m very excited! Scott and I attended the Camp Planning meeting. Yes, we have the funds and plans to have camp this year. We are working on the funds for the next year now. There was money in the ACS funds that were turned over The Goodtimes Project to help fund camp for 2014. We have been moving stuff in preparation for getting the floors done. They are in and next will be the sanding and finishing the week of Thanksgiving starting tomorrow. I’m thankful that we are not having Thanksgiving at our house this year! Scott came across a bunch of photos from the past. The piano bench was full of pictures. There was also a laminated “Mommy” place mat made by Kathryn. We also came across a journal Kathryn wrote for an English class when she was 12. In this journal she wrote about how a good friend would help you when you need them. They would never be stuck up and get mad. They will share food and toys. Kathryn shared her last dinner with me there in the hospital. They would go places with you and stay back when you want them to. They would be loyal, caring, helpful, successful, happy, smart and athletic. They would encourage you to do your best. They would laugh at your jokes, even the ones that aren’t funny. They would be fun too! They wouldn’t tell rumors about you or say mean things about you. She lived as she described. She was a true friend to those who knew her that is for sure. She never spoke bad about others but always found the good in each and everyone. She encouraged others to better themselves. She also wrote about us, her parents. Wow, this brought tears to my eyes. She starts off with, “I think I have the ideal parents.” They let my brother and me do just about anything as long as they know what is happening. Like we can stay up all night but it is pointless to say we are too tired for school. It’s our own problem. They spoil us with lots of presents on holidays. They take us on trips all the time. They stick by me when I go to the hospital. They show us love with lots of kisses. They let us have parties and we can invite friends over all the time. When we go camping or on a day trip we can bring friends. My parents are the best. They may have us do chores and work we don’t want to do but we have to think of all the cool things they let us do and all the things they do for us. I Love you! I love you too Kathryn. We also found a 2001 Daughter Locket Christmas ornament. It was never used. I probably was looking for the perfect photo and put it aside and forgot about it. Hopefully I will fill it this year. I received two readings of people dealing with cancer hoping for others to find God. Asking others to read the bible even is just one verse. Hoping others will cherish life and the ones around them. Amazing how people with cancer or experiencing cancer have such a love for life and find faith in God. Not only a love for life but a positive attitude. Colton – the 13 year old from Camp Goodtimes is now in remission. The T-cell therapy has worked. But as his mother expressed they don’t know for how long. A patient before him is still good after 18 months and yet others have relapsed. It is strange how cancer can be “cured” for one and the other dies from it. Kathryn’s original tumor is now at a 95% survival rate and yet in the long run she died from the treatment. They still use the same chemo treatments they used back in 1999 but the radiation has changed. We always felt lucky because we had escaped the horrors of radiation that took so much from children but left Kathryn healthy. I guess in the long run that radiation really was what killed her but it also saved her. Such a mix of outcomes. Thankful for the radiation and that she was given much less that it left her healthy and even left room for her to have more later yet too much of one kind that it created the beast that took her life. I was talking to my Mom and she says Kathryn talks to her. It usually happens when she is dressing. That’s kind of funny I think, well so does she. I received a beautiful note from my cousin Kimberly the other day. She told me that every time she sees something with a Panda she thinks of Kathryn ☺. She also has Kathryn’s picture hanging in her laundry room to remind her to Love Life! She admires how close our family is. We are! Maybe that is why Kathryn feels constant. I have said it before that it feels as though she is still here and part of my life. I know her spirit is definitely here. I was speaking to my friend Carol about making a t-shirt quilt. As we talked I told her I also had a bunch of Kathryn’s t-shirts that I started to cut up to make a quilt but I just couldn’t do it. It was so hard to think about cutting them up. She said she found it hard at first too but you just need to remember that you are making something beautiful out of them. That I can do! Now I just need the time. My friend sent me a little box with a beautiful blue bow on it to my classroom. When I opened it up I found some fluffy warm Panda socks inside. It was so sweet and thoughtful of her. I’m so glad people are reminded of Kathryn when they see pandas. Remember that essay I just told you about that Kathryn wrote, well it went missing. Scott knew I would be upset and not sleep if we didn’t find it. So, he asked Kathryn to help us find it. When Scott found all of the stuff in the piano bench there was a folder with Richard’s stuff in it. I put it in the Polk-A-Dot room on the desk since I have a file drawer for Richard and Kathryn in there. Scott said something in his chatting about that folder and I went right to it even though it was “Richard’s Stuff.” Well, there was the essay. We would of never thought to look there if Kathryn hadn’t intervened. I’m so glad it was there. Now I can rest easy and so can Scott since he was the one getting the blame for losing it. As I went by my principal’s office the other day he called me in and talked to me about the plan for observations and such for my evaluation. He then asked me about how difficult anniversaries and holidays have been. Remember he just lost his brother/best friend. They are changing up Christmas this year so it will be in a different place so it would be so noticeable that his brother is gone. I think they have made a very good decision. Now that I think about it we did things exactly the same on Christmas. We did our stockings first and then opened gifts in the living room where the tree is. Like I told him, I think we were all trying so hard to be strong for each other that we got through it. And because we had everyone over to our house we had so much to do that we didn’t have time to be sad. He also mentioned that the death of a loved on is shitty no matter what but losing a child is just beyond his something he can’t even comprehend. His Mom needs help. She stays in bed all day. But it really hasn’t been that long. I laid on the couch many of those first days. I just couldn’t pull myself up. It was bad. I know where she is. I offered my heart doctor. I didn’t know what to say to her but she knew just what to say to me. I hope she goes. I think this was something that really helped me heal. He said, some people talk how one situation is worse than another and he said they are all just bad. But I said I use this to make myself feel better. Yes, losing a child is terrible but I have another child, I didn’t lose two children like the people who just lost their two twin daughters not to mention they lost a daughter just 2 years ago. I also know a couple that lost two children to brain cancer. I had 11 years after the first diagnoses that were wonderful and cancer free. Kathryn was perfect and lived a perfect life. We had it all. Even with the second diagnoses we still lived well up until the last 6 weeks. Even in the hospital we found ways to enjoy life. And when we came home we still found happiness. I told him I look for the good and the things I can be grateful for. There are so many things to be grateful for. I also told him we celebrate Kathryn’s life each year by having a birthday party for her. We don’t celebrate her death but her life. I did have a dream about Kathryn in a house with me. It was super strange. But then I had a dream that I was in a car pulled over on the side of the road. I saw a little girl with long blonde hair wearing a pair of jeans and that teal sweatshirt that Kathryn wore of mine. I just watched her walk down the road wishing she were Kathryn but knowing she wasn’t. Maybe this was her way of visiting me. After all I always ask her to come and see me. Richard gave me the call the other day. It was one that I knew was coming. It was about the holidays and how Bee’s Mom would like to have us over for Christmas Eve instead of us having her over. I told him I was fine with it. As long as the three of us are together it doesn’t matter where we are. But, I do expect him to be here for Christmas morning. I know that day will come too. He will have his own family and have the morning at his house. Well, we will just cross that road when it comes. For now he will be with us. I know Bee is just as important to her Mom as Richard is to me. They are both only children and very special. I think about them getting married and having children someday. That first grandchild will have two grandmas and a grandpa that will give them so much love and attention. You know that essay? Well I had to ask Kathryn for help finding again. The one I found in the folder was a different one. It looked like the one I was looking for. Maybe I was supposed to find this one too. After all I hadn’t read this one. It talked about this very special place that Kathryn had found with rainbows, birds, waterfalls and other things that she loves. But she didn’t stay because she loved her family and home more. Scott and I asked Kathryn again and I found it almost instantly in a box in her room. Yep, there it was with a bunch of stuff that we moved out of the living room. Our floors are getting started tomorrow. We just finished striping the wallpaper in the dining room and painting both the living room and dining room. It’s nice to have lots of windows until you have to cut in around all of them and they all have wood trim. Seven windows and three doorways. One doorway is the arch between the two rooms so there is trim on both sides. Then there is the chair rail around the entire dining room. We also chose to paint two colors in the living room, which means a couple of corners where two colors come together. I cut in so much I’m now a certified pro. It takes a ton of time and patience. But it is all done! Thanksgiving is coming and I hope you all remember that there is no guarantee of tomorrow. So, that means appreciate all that you have and who you have in your life right now. Live for the moment and savor the time you have with your loved ones. Be thankful for all that you have. We all have so many things to be thankful for. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and nice break from the day-to-day events. Enjoy yourself and time with your family and friends. Love you all, Carol
Monday, November 4, 2013
Tomorrow? 11/4/13 On Kathryn’s list that I found under the stairs there was Pastor Foege’s phone number too. She had a couple of phone numbers but that one was important. She loved Pastor Foege and trusted him. I think she knew she was going to be in the hands of the Lord after talking to him. She was safe. While I was giving blood I was asked if I had grandchildren – No my son is a bit behind the game I said. Then I was asked if he was my only child and I said no I have a daughter but she passed away in February of 2012. Then I explained that I think Richard and his sister both talked about adopting children but Richard’s girlfriend would love to have her own child, which I am kind of partial too myself. I think Richard is afraid that he may have a child who develops cancer. Kathryn and Bee’s sister Elizabeth both died from cancer and so did Bee’s Dad. Richard and I talked about cancer one day and how one of the nurses from Children’s believes it is genetic. But we have no brain cancer anywhere in my family or Scott’s family. Scott’s Dad died of a rare form of leukemia. We all believe it was caused from his exposure to high levels of radiation on Bikini Island. We think my Mom’s mom may have died from cancer and know that her brother Bill and sister Elaine both died from lung cancer. Bill and Elaine were both very heavy smokers their entire lives. So, I would say all of the cancers were environmental not genetic. My grandmother may be the only one that could possibly be genetic but we don’t even know if cancer was the true cause of death. There wasn’t an autopsy done so it is just a guess. I was listening to the song “Stand by Me” on my way home from work. There is a part that says there’s always tomorrow. Well that is wrong. There isn’t always tomorrow so you better make the best of today. Today is what you have and you shouldn’t waste it. Tomorrow may never come. Make the best of every day that you have here on this Earth. I called Rebecca (Rowan’s Mom). I knew it was getting close to Rowan’s birthday. I called on the 27th, which was exactly one year from the day we celebrated her 4th birthday in Disneyland. We talked a lot. We talked about family and how they were during our difficult time. We talked about fundraising and how it seems so easy for some people to get financial help for medical and not so easy for others. She asked me how it is now that it has almost been 2 years. I told her it was just as she described it a minute ago. You are having normal conversations and maybe even laughing and then you are crying because you are thinking about her and missing her. Some times I don’t think it is any better than it was when Kathryn first passed. But I did tell her the normal times become more frequent. I know that I am not lying on the couch all day crying anymore. This is a big improvement. There was actually an article about depression after losing a loved one and how it really affects some people so much that they have a hard time functioning. One lady said she put off her friends and their invitations and they finally gave up and stopped inviting her. I suggested that Rebecca take up one of those invitations and go out with a friend. It just might help her feel better. She does have an old friend coming to visit the first part of December. I really think this will give her a much-needed emotional break. Hopefully they find time to laugh and just enjoy each other. Sunday night (actually early Monday morning) at 2:25 am I woke up and heard our mirror rattle. It only rattles if someone really bounces around in the bed like jumps on the bed or if there is an Earthquake. Since Scott and I were both lying very still in bed I thought maybe someone was in the house at first. I got up and kind of investigated. Then I thought it must have been an Earthquake. No news of an Earth Quake in the morning. So all I can think is that it was Kathryn. I had been thinking about her giving me a sign of her presents since I watched The Island Median. I will leave it at that. On Monday 10/28 one of Kathryn’s friends posted this on facebook: It has been a year and three quarters since the world lost a beautiful soul, and the Comm 101 IA program director is still telling her story to inspire IAs and keep her positive attitude and passion alive. It makes me so happy to hear about her and see the difference she continues to make. I love you and I miss you everyday, baby girl! — with Kathryn Panda Bradley. She is going to send me a copy of the professor’s lecture in text and on tape. I’m looking forward to it. I remember the professor asking me if she could use Kathryn as her example. She wanted to know if I would be ok if she spoke of Kathryn in her absence. I’m proud that she uses Kathryn’s story to inspire others. Kathryn would approve. Today I also chatted with my Principal who just lost his brother and best friend. I told him I started reflecting by counting the days and then it was weeks and then it was months. A Monday for him is my Thursday. He received the news at a school board meeting I laid there in bed next to Kathryn and watched as she took her last little breath. The 2nd of every month will always be a day that reminds me of that morning. The Thursdays do too. And when it is the 2nd and a Thursday it only makes it stronger. He will continue to be reminded of that evening and the message he received. Time does heal and faith helps with the healing. So this same day Kathryn came to me again. Remember last night, Sunday the mirror rattled. I actually told her I loved hearing from her but I needed to sleep and this mirror rattling was keeping me from sleeping. So instead she sat at the end of the bed where I could feel the pressure on the bed when the blankets pulled on my toes. I have felt this before and it brings me comfort so I think she knew it would once again. I asked for a sign and now she gave me one that I would recognize and enjoy. One of my students made me a darling panda. It even has red glitter on it. Oh, Kathryn would love the glitter. Today (11/1) was Rowan’s 5th birthday, or would have been. I sent Rebecca and Chuck a quick text to let them know I was thinking of them. It hasn’t even been 6th months since Rowan passed and they are certainly hurting. I talked to Richard about it tonight and he asked if they have recovered financially. I don’t think they have. I know they spent far more than we did and now they have new medical expenses. I told him I would have another garage sale this summer and send them the money. I don’t know what more I can do to help. I sure wish I could win some money and help them out. I have couple of people I would like to help out financially. It’s hard to sit back and watch when you know people need help and you really don’t have the means to help. Tonight (11/1) Scott and I walked down by Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place. We parked over by the environmental building and walked by it. Scott mentioned that this brings back memories. Kathryn’s senior prom was there and we were chaperones. It was a good night as Scott said. Great memories and that dress was so cute on Kathryn. She trusted me to make her the perfect dress. As I have mentioned before I don’t really sew. It did turn out perfect. After many many fittings! Well, they just don’t make Kathryn size patterns for a grown up style dress. She wanted me to make her wedding dress some day too. She really had faith in me. While listening to a Subaru commercial it shows a little girl going off to her first day of school. I have watched that commercial several times but this time it hit me. Kathryn going off to her first day of Kindergarten. It was Good-Bye Mommy and off she went. Not a tear or fear, just excitement to be with all of those kids. She was social from the very beginning. She loved everyone from the start. She was off with her happiness and sharing it with others. Over the weekend I read through quotes that were sent to us from Kathryn’s friends as well as some of the things she wrote. I read this sentence and couldn’t believe what I had read. “Cancer is not just in my past, but it is my future. And I am thrilled with this.” This is from an essay Kathryn wrote. Thrilled? Really? I couldn’t believe what I read. I guess she had accepted the fact that she had cancer and she just had to make the best of it. There was nothing she could do but live life as she knew it. Happy as can be. Last night (11/3/2013) I received a message from Kathryn. It wasn’t a dream but something just coming into my brain. It was a strong message, a very strong message. It was, “Love Daddy.” It just kept playing in my brain until I rolled over and held Scott tight. She knew Scott needed me to hold him and I needed to be held. I have not had this experience before. It was so strong and amazing. “LOVE DADDY” That would be Kathryn talking. She called us Mommy and Daddy a lot. She would want both of us to feel love and be loved. Thank you Kathryn ☺ That’s a good note to end with so good night. Remember you never know about tomorrow so live today and love today the best that you can.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
October 2013 After the guys left with all their fans and heaters from our flooded downstairs, I ventured under the stairs only to find it soaking wet. You would think that 6 days of 96-99 degrees in the house would have dried everything but not. I found a note under that stairs that Kathryn had written. Kathryn was writing notes about her cancer. I think she was gathering information for a paper. I just can’t imagine what she was thinking as she wrote I was clear of cancer until 2010, lack of strength, Look up Camp Goodtimes, Glioblastoma and Tumor was possibly caused by from radiation to treat the first one. No 19 year old should ever have to write notes like this. Looking down at my socks today I noticed they had KB on them - actually Kathryn’s socks. I remember the KB is what sold me on them. Having her initials on the socks just by chance was a nice surprise. Socks are about the only thing of Kathryn’s that I can wear. Her closet is still full. I looked through a few things the other day. Never to be worn by her again. Well, maybe I will give them away or sell them at a garage sale so some other little girl can wear them. Monday – my trainer looks at me as I stood on tippy toes to reach something and said, “Just how tall are you?” Last week we had an issue of me not having a long enough torso to be able to use a machine correctly. I told her I was 5 foot and then said my daughter was only 4ft 8 in. I probably look taller because I actually have large bones not little skinny petite bones like Kathryn did. She was definitely child size not adult size. There is a lady I work with who is built a lot like Kathryn only a bit taller. Her feet are little like Kathryn’s short, skinny and thin. Tiny little feet. My Principal’s brother died. He is in his 48. It was a heart attack. It’s so hard to lose someone you love and enjoy life with. Nothing ever seems the same once a loved one leaves this world. Faith in the everlasting life helps. Faith that you will be together again gives peace. I really thought about this today. I thought about how I still feel as if Kathryn is with me and alive in my life. I know she isn’t here but I don’t feel like she really left me. Oh, I cry but I have so many hours of peace and not feeling like she is gone. It’s like I feel her with me. I thought about how she and I slept together every night since Houston. We would hold hands and fall asleep. I would wake up in the night and my fingers would hurt. I would have to take my hand out of hers and rub my fingers. I think she was holding my hand so tight or maybe our bones just touched in such a way that it hurt after a while. That first night without her made me panic to go into my dark bedroom. It took a while before I could get into my own bed and once there I had to get up and leave and then have the light on. The first night without her was terrifying. Wednesday – Visit with Irma. Irma who is a 90 something year old woman who lives by my Mom and Dad’s house in Tacoma. The house I grew up in. She is all by herself and doesn’t drive. I wanted to go there with my Mom and offer her a ride to the store any time she needs one. She actually walks to the store (over a mile one way). I wanted to go with my Mom because my Mom is the only person in the world that Irma will trust. She trusts me too but I have a hard time communicating with her. Her hearing is shot and her eyesight is terrible. Anyhow we had a wonderful visit and laughed a lot. My Mom first became friends with her during a tragic moment in Irma’s life(1990). My Mom saw the medic truck at her house and police so she went over to see what was wrong. Irma’s son who was diagnosed with terminal cancer had fatally shot himself in one of the bedrooms. This was her only son. My Mom not only gave her comfort that night but also helped her make the funeral arrangements. She also asked our minister to do a little service for her son. Only Irma and my parents were at that service but it meant the world to her. Since then my Mom has helped Irma with anything she needs and also send away bothersome real-estate agents who want to steel her house from her. It has a great view! My Mom is a wonderful person and has set a beautiful example of how to love and give to others. I put up my picture of Rowan and me in my classroom. I was asked who she was. I told the young girl that she was Rowan and this was at her 4th birthday party at Disneyland. She said she looked so happy and so did I. I was happy and Rowan was having the time of her life. I was happy because Rowan was doing so well. She was walking and talking just fine. She was smart as a whip and so loving. I was so happy that Rowan seemed to be beating this beast with in her. I told the young girl that we met Rowan and her Mom and Dad in Houston when we were there for Kathryn’s treatment. And how Rowan passed away at 4 ½ in May of 2013. Jeff’s (my principal) brother’s funeral was on Friday and I think 7 or 8 of us went to it from school. You could tell he was a well-liked man with a good sense of humor. I held together even when they played Brother Iz “Over the Rainbow.” I talked to my principal about talking with someone about his grief. I told him that it helped me. Just to have someone who is separate from the situation listen to how pissed off you are is good. He said he was pissed and I certainly understand. When someone leaves us who we loved so much we get pissed off. Life just doesn’t seem fair sometimes. We talked about his brother’s children and coping. He had written them both letters and what he said in them was perfect. To the son he told him to be himself and not feel like he needs to be the man of the house. To the daughter he told her that her Dad showed her how she should be treated with love and respect and that is what she should always expect. Don’t let anyone treat you less. This is not the exact writing but the idea is there. We also discussed counseling for the children and he said they were already getting it. The minister has been their rock. I really thought he was wonderful. I told Richard how I had talked to him about counseling and how Scott has finally sought out a counselor. He said he may talk to a counselor someday. I hope so. He needs to bust open and let it out. Richard and I also talked about Bee. Her Dad’s 10th anniversary is coming up on October 27th. Richard said she is already feeling it. I know I lost a very dear person in my life and people wonder how I can go on, but Bee and her Mom lost her Dad and her sister just a year and a half later. I can’t imagine that. Like Richard said, Bee helped with her sister’s care for a long time. We only had to care heavily for Kathryn for a little while. I know we lost a lot but there is always something to be grateful for. I’m grateful I didn’t lose more. I’m grateful Kathryn didn’t suffer or was real bad off for a long time. I would say it was really hard but for short period. I received a nice note form one of Kathryn’s elementary school friends. He attached a video about a young man who has cancer and is posting his progress. He is only in his 20’s. Erik wanted to know about Kathryn’s tumor and what we were given as a prognosis. He sent me another note the next day apologizing for having me watch that video. I told him that it didn’t bother me at all. I look up cancer stuff all of the time. I’m very curious to know how the research is going. How close were we to saving Kathryn. There are things in the works but Glioblastomas still have only a 15 month survival rate. Not too good but an increase from 6 months only about 5 years ago. Today 10/9 one of my students asked how old Kathryn was. She said, “She is so pretty.” Of course I added that she was the sweetest person on the Earth. She never said anything bad about anyone. She always said good things about people. She always tried to help others better themselves. Of course I teared up! “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed. I don’t know if you saw the news about this 15-year-old boy who has invented a test for pancreatic cancer. Hearing you have pancreatic cancer is just about as bad as hearing you have a Glioblastoma. The boy’s name is Jack and he lost a friend to pancreatic cancer. The deal with it is that it is usually caught late in the stage and then it can’t be stopped because it has already spread to other places in the body. My friend is living with it now. She lost two of her family members to it. But she is a fighter. I will be calling her today. Anyhow, Jack found a way to detect the occurrence of pancreatic cancer with a simple blood test and it catches it in the early stages. How great it that? Kids are amazing! There was a track day on the 11th. We have been working on a huge fundraiser to have at the track on the 19th for Camp Goodtimes. On the 11th we had two of the campers go out with their Mom, Grandma and family friend to raise awareness of Camp and the Fundraiser. Well, the guys treated these kids like royalty. They took the kids and the ladies for rides around the track. They had a great time. I didn’t know exactly everything about Connor (the one who had cancer). His grandma wrote about it. Oh my, Connor is short because of his radiation and chemo at such a young age. He was diagnosed at two and is now a foot shorter than his 7 year old brother. Connor is 9. His joints are fused from his treatment. That means he can’t bend his wrists, ankles and has a stiff walk. He is being tested constantly to see what is happening to his little body. They are hoping it will not cause problems with his organs and such. His brother is concerned about him being shorter than him. It’s nice that he only knows enough to be concerned that his older brother is so short. I shared the picture of Connor in a race car with is huge smile. My students were interested because we had just talked about t-cells, chemo and cancer as a problem in our math book prompted these ideas. I also shared with them about Colton. He is another boy who is a Camper from Camp Goodtimes. Unfortunately he is in the middle of his battle. He has had chemo and radiation for years. He has had two bone marrow transplants and one stem cell transplant. None have fought off his cancer. Now he is a test child, I think he is #22. He is receiving t-cells. He received them on the 15th and 16th of October. He has had high fevers since but they control them with Tylenol in the hospital. He is in Philadelphia for this. Here in Washington they are doing the same type of treatment and had their first success story just this week with a young girl. The deal is that they don’t know how long this treatment will last. The question is will the body continue to fight off cancer like it should? Even though this girl shows that she is cancer free there could be cancer floating around and will the t-cells continue to do their job. They are also thinking that if this young lady stays cancer free (which we should all pray for) then maybe bone marrow transplants can be thrown out and t-cell treatments put in their place. Bone marrow transplants are really a 50/50 deal. I don’t even know if they work 50% of the time. It’s a lot of risk. I read an interesting article about t-cells. They are the ones that fight cancer. What they found is that the t-cells kill cancer quickly and efficiently in the lab. But in the human body the cancer cells form a coating that keeps the t-cells out. They are now coming up with a drug that will break down this coating. If they get it to work then the body can kill cancer with its own t-cells. Of course they say that fighting brain tumors and solid tumors is more difficult. The brain tumors are very difficult to fight. They have a good grasp on a couple but not so lucky with others. On the 16th I had a young lady in after school taking a test. We talked about cancer as her Grandpa is dying of pancreatic cancer. I told her about Kathryn asking me if she was dying and how I said, “I don’t know and nobody really know but God.” I told her how I knew people that were told they were going to die and are still alive today and they were told this 40 years ago. I told my student that she just needed to make every moment with her Grandpa count. Make it special. I know I did everything in my power to be with Kathryn as much as possible and to make ever moment with her good. We shared happiness. The track day on the 19th was a huge success. We raised over $40,000. It was cold but no rain. Everyone had a fabulous time! After we went to Eatonville to have dinner with my Mom and visit my brother. Mike just had foot surgery. He did find someone to keep his business going while he is mending. We had a great time. I let Richard drive my car from the track to Mom’s and then back to our house. I think he enjoyed it. He thanked me for letting him drive it. We have been working with the Wine Auction committee too. Richard, Bee, Scott and I have all been working hard to get things going to raise money for camp. It has been a lot. I think that is why I just lost it on Monday night. I fell apart and just cried hard. My emotions just get too high sometimes. One of Kathryn’s friends posted a picture of her on Facebook. It is a photo that I love. She is wearing her big bright smile. I love to see her photos or anything in remembrance of her posted on Facebook. I enjoy getting notes or whatever. It is nice to know her friends think of her and remember her in special ways. Keep the memories. One of my students asked me Thursday (10/24), “Mrs. Bradley, If you could have anything what would it be? I looked at him and instantly said, “I would want my daughter back.” I smiled and said, “That was an easy one.” His eyes got big and he quickly moved them to look at my pictures. I think I took him by surprise. If I could have anything that is exactly what it would be. Thursday morning we woke to fire trucks in our road. There were 7 different fire vehicles. Scott went up to investigate. Our neighbor’s house had caught on fire. They had a portable heater in the back room that started the fire. Didn’t’ think I would get to work on time but they left just as I needed to leave. Not a ton of damage to the house but enough. I don’t think anyone was home at the time. They weren’t there that night either as Scott and I snooped around. On this same day one of the high school teachers lost his house to a fire. I was just talking to him at the soccer game on Tuesday. We were talking about retirement and such. His house burned to the ground. They lost two dogs and one is running around missing. I couldn’t imagine this happening. I would be so mad. I have all those memories in my house. I have pictures and Richard and Kathryn’s artwork. I would feel defeated. On Friday I had a bunch of girls in my room waiting to go to the dance. They didn’t want to wait in the hall so they rather hang out in my room. They commented on Kathryn’s beautiful smile. Yulissa said she loves to look at her picture because she has such a big beautiful smile. I said it was so beautiful because it comes from with in her. She was such a beautiful person. We also talked about her room, the clouds on the ceiling, the clothes still hanging in her closet, and how it is still the same as when she was alive. They said to leave it. I said I would but some day I will change it, just not yet. There’s no reason for change at this time and I don’t like change. They also commented on my Panda necklace and then asked about Panda. I told them that was her camp name and explained about camp and how her name came to be. I also told them that her room was full of Panda’s. They proceeded to write things like “Panda Love” on my board. I was touched by their sincere love for Kathryn and me. It was a great afternoon. I had noticed feeling a bit down in the past couple of weeks. Then Scott asked about some dates and made a statement about October. It was a tragic month. October 13th MRI there is something but what? October 17th spectroscopy there is definitely new tumor growth October 19th given 3 to 6 months to live. October 26th or so head to Bellingham to gather Kathryn’s clothes and things October 30th Carve Pumpkins for the last time with Kathryn October 31st Fly to Houston Now I get it! Well, I am a survivor and will continue. We are carving pumpkins tonight. The day is on the right track and I will keep it that way. I still have my memories and the feeling of her constant companionship. I have my faith that will keep me strong knowing we will reunite again some day. I have beautiful photos of that beautiful smile. All is good. Take care, Carol
Thursday, September 26, 2013
The Flood 9/26/13 Friday morning 9/20 we woke up to a mess. Scott went downstairs at 4:45 am to take the last step off of the stairs into a puddle of water. He yelled up to me and I headed down to see the downstairs flooded. I couldn’t believe it. We were calling the insurance company to tell them that the hardwoods were all finished and we were satisfied so they could cut the final check. You could hear the water gushing in. The faucet was running full blast. Luckily we have a shut off valve in the hall closet and I turned the water off immediately. The hose to the freezer for water and ice had come off of the faucet and so that water was just shooting in full blast. We have no idea how long it ran. It covered the hardwoods and flooded the laundry room. The family room carpet was all soaked but one small corner of the room. The water got into the living room and dining room about four feet in. I scooped up water with a dustpan into a big garbage can. I filled the garbage can three times. Scott cut the thresh hold off of the front doorway so we could just push the water out of the front door. That worked well. Then we soaked up the rest with towels. When I laid a towel on the family room floor it soaked up water instantly. Then the cleaning crew can. 18 fans and dehumidifiers were set up in the house and several under the house. The floors were covered with special mats that had hoses running to and from them and plastic covered the floors. The plants all had to be removed as well as candles or anything that couldn’t with stand temperatures of 96-99 degrees. The upstairs was tented off so getting to our bedroom meant we had to go through a zipper tent. 20 garbage bags of insulation were gathered form under the house. The laundry room floor was all cut out and thrown away. Oh and all the ductwork was taken apart under the house and the insulation from it thrown out too. What a mess!! In spite of it all I kept a good attitude. What can you do? I made it to work about an hour late. One of my students actually picked the perfect day to tell me, “You are always so happy Mrs. Bradley and it makes me happy every time I come into your room.” Wow, I guess I must be doing ok for a student to say that. Later in the week my friend told me her aunt said she couldn’t believe how calm I am about all of this. She said that I have been through so much in my life that this was nothing. She’s right. I have been through so much and this is just a little tiny deal. Nothing to get worked up about at all. Saturday I went to Woodenville to do some wine tasting with friends. There were 7 of us including Richard. He was the only man in the group. It was supposed to be all girls but two people canceled last minute so I told him he should come with Bee. It was fun and several of us ended up buying some wine. We also had dinner and there was live music. On Sunday I saw a little girl sucking her thumb with her blanket. When Kathryn was little she sucked her thumb. Richard did too. When Kathryn went to kindergarten she decided that sucking her thumb was not something she should be doing at school. She had all of these cute little tops that had a satin bow on the collar. She would rub that bow and suck her thumb. One day she told me she couldn’t wear the shirts with the bows to school because they made her suck her thumb. She amazed me at 5 years old how she could see that she had to stay away from the bows to stop sucking her thumb. It worked! On Sunday there was fabulous Rainbow. Most of you here in our area saw it. It was the most crisp rainbow I have every seen. The colors were so clear and bright. Usually the colors fade into each other and are fuzzy. I Bought a Panda Watch in Hot Pink, skinny black jeans and sparkly blue shoes. All in Kathryn’s memory. She would have loved the outfit I wore to school on Monday. Most of my students commented. Even a Mom I met with after school commented on my shoes. Kathryn would have been so proud of me. I was kind of stepping out of my comfort zone. Out to dinner every night because our kitchen is not useable. The fans are loud, the plastic on the floors and the hoses running everywhere are dangerous to walk around. And, let’s not forget the 96-99 degrees in that part of the house. While at El Toro’s I heard a family behind me ordering a grilled cheese sandwich. That was what Kathryn ordered there for years. She said they made the best grilled cheese sandwiches. Better than any other restaurant. She did move on the Taco Salads when she got older. Taco salad with beans, no meat. Wore the beautiful pink heart pendent Kathryn bought me while in Europe with People to People. I love it. I will wear it more now that I have a chain that I feel comfortable with. I had a chain but it had a bad spot in it that I always feared would break and I would lose the pendent. Now I have a nice strong chain that is shinny and beautiful just perfect for the pendent. I will never forget how Kathryn ran to me at the airport when she returned home from that trip. It was the first time that she had spent away from her family for more than a couple of nights. She was gone 3 weeks. She ran to me crying as I ran to her crying. We hugged so tight and gave each other a kiss. She said, “I’m never going on a trip like that again.” Than she explained that she did have a good time but she would never go on a trip without us for that long again. We both missed each other so much. I was so happy to have my little girl back home. I sure wish she would come home now. I spoke to God again today about letting me see her or at the very least dream about her. I told Kathryn that I know we will be together soon as this lifetime is just a blip in time. A short little period that will someday be filled with life everlasting and time with Kathryn once again. It’s already Thursday 9/26. Time is flying as usual. Our house is still a mess and will be for a while. The floors need to be replaced because of the flooding. That means more dust and mess. 160 gallons was removed by the machines plus the 40 gallons we mopped up! That’s 200 gallons, a lot of water!! The rest of the blog is a letter I wrote to help you understand a little bit about pediatric cancer and Camp Goodtimes. Cancer Sucks as we all know. It has touched everyone in some way. You may not be the one who has had cancer but maybe you know someone who has had to deal with it. Or even someone who has died from it. For myself I know way too many people who have died from cancer. I have always expected that some day I would hear the words you have cancer. It does run in my family. But, never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined my child having cancer. I didn’t even know that children got cancer until it hit my child. Yes, Cancer Sucks! It really sucks if you are a child. Your life is just taking off but you have no idea what is happening to you. You may not feel good so you go to the doctor and they start poking you. You are told you have cancer. This makes your parents very sad. It makes other people act very strange around you. Then you are told you have to get treatments and those treatments make you feel even sicker. You lose your hair and you are just a child. Only old people are bald! Maybe you were a girl with long flowing hair or a boy with nice wavy hair. Now there is not one hair left on your head. People stare at you as they try to understand why you might be bald. Your classmates may treat you differently. Well, that is if you are allowed to go to school. Your blood counts may be low and you may need to stay home or even worse be hospitalized (again). You have a thing stuck in your chest to ease the pain of being poked regularly. The radiation makes you so weak and tired. You were an athlete or at least a kid full of energy. But now you can hardly handle a day. Naps become something you naturally take to like you were 2 again. People just don’t understand that you are suffering. You have lost your childhood maybe even your friends. You just can’t be yourself any more. Cancer has changed everything. But then you find a place. There is this place in the world where everyone understands because they are just like you. Even the adults have had cancer experiences. They understand your limits yet encourage you to participate and have fun. Your baldhead is not different just part of who you are. You may have even found a new friend who is bald too. Your feeding tube is not stared at or questioned. There may be another child with a feeding tube. The scare from your surgery is normal and may look just like others in the group. You may even compare scares with other kids here. You feel loved and accepted. You have a spirit in you that is brought alive. What is this place? It is Camp Goodtimes. It is a place where kids with cancer can go and feel normal for a week. A place where cancer is put on the back burner and forgotten for a week. A child gains back their childhood for a week. It may only be a week but it is enough to carry this child through a year until the next week of camp. And if this child survives this bought of cancer then he or she may grow into an adult who has learned to give. This child may become a volunteer at camp to help those other children gain back a week of their childhood to carry them through a year that can be filled with disappointment and pain. Not just physical pain but emotional pain too. This place also gives the parents hope. Hope that their child will grow with happiness in their heart. Hope that their child can be a child not a cancer patient waiting for results and suffering from the side effects of treatment. Even if for only a week. Parents also see the sibling of the patient come back from what could be some deep depression as they have had to watch their sister or brother go through so much and not understanding why. Well, no one really understands the why. The sibling gets a week of rest. Rest from protecting their brother or sister from any more pain. Protecting them from cruel people. They too get to be a child again if only for a week. It doesn’t sound like a week is very long but this week of camp builds new relationships. It has built a community, a family that works together for each other. They support one another and now this family is in danger. The American Cancer Society supported Camp Goodtimes for 30 years. But the ACS has decided to put all of their focus on finding a cure so we won’t have to have cancer camps but regular summer camps. Without the ACS we (the Camp Goodtimes Family) need to work hard to bring in funds to keep this week of camp going. We actually have three weeks of camp. Two separate regular weeks of Camp for about 260 kids and one week of Kayak camp for older young adults. My two children have benefitted greatly from camp Goodtimes. Kathryn called it the Happiest Place on Earth. Richard continues to volunteer and is a driving force for fundraising to make sure camp continues. My children learned to love with their whole hearts, to give to others and care for others. They learned to give back too. I could not imagine our lives without camp. This camp gave my children a wonderful childhood and allowed them to blossom into grateful and loving adults. So, I am asking for you to make a donation. It will be in memory of Kathryn Panda Bradley. Any amount will help. It is truly a special place that deserves to continue. The kids deserve to have a childhood, if only for a week. I would love to have all donations collected by Kathryn’s birthday February 5th. Thank you so much! Carol Flower Bradley Checks can be made out to The Goodtimes Project memo: Kathryn Panda or just Panda Send checks to me at: Carol Bradley 6711 71st St Ct W Lakewood, WA 98499 The tax ID # 46-2489916 it is a tax deductable donation. http://www.dwellable.com/u/add_post/2776