About Me

Kathryn Bradley was born on 2/5/91 and given a Hawaiian name Kahiwalani meaning "Gift From Heaven" She has been a special gift from the day she was born.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

While hanging some ornaments they bring back memories.  Most of our ornaments have some special meaning.  I hung the ones that Scott had bought for Kathryn and myself last year.  I couldn’t find the time to get ornaments.  We have a picture of Kathryn hanging hers on the tree and that picture comes to mind.  She was home form the hospital and the first few days were ok.  She came down from her room and took part in life.  But after a while she just wanted to stay in her room.  That was when reality started to set in.  The ballerinas from and Clair ornaments from the Nutcracker that we so enjoyed going to.  I didn’t go this year and probably won’t go again.  I discovered that a bunch of ornaments were not found.  They are mainly Kathryn’s baby ornaments.  When I put things away this year I will look for them.  I know they are here somewhere.  I chose not to put up the Disney ornaments.  I bought them years ago and gave a new one to Richard and Kathryn each year.  2010 was the year I finally had unboxed all of them.  I just didn’t want to deal with more stuff and then having to take them down. 

As Scott and I delivered the Christmas bags to our neighbors we stopped and chatted with each neighbor.  At Henry and Lily’s house their daughter was making cut out sugar cookies.  We asked if she was making cut out cookies and she replied with, “Of course.”  Yes, that would have been my reply too but not this year.  Kathryn and I always made the cut out sugar cookies together.  Last year she was having a hard time with putting sprinkles on because her hand was not working well.  Scott, who is very creative, dumped the sprinkles into a container and had her dip the frosted cookies into the sprinkles.  It worked out well and her tears dried up.  Maybe I will make cut out cookies some time in the future.

As Christmas Eve rolled around thoughts of the hospital came to mind.  We headed to the ER around 11 am and thought we would still make dinner at Johnny’s Dock by 5:30.  But her tumor had other plans.  It messed with her sodium and all that they did in the hospital did nothing.  They took her blood three more times after we had already taken it because they just couldn’t believe that she could possibly be coherent, speaking and able to even walk.  Her sodium was now at 113 or 112.  She should have been seizing we were told over and over.  We were in ICU not because Kathryn was doing poorly but because they feared a seizer.  We were planning on going home in the morning (Christmas Morning). We thought by then her sodium would be up to normal as they had pumped massive amounts of sodium into her body but at a slow safe rate.  About 18 hours of pumping sodium into her.  Well, it hadn’t moved much at all.  It was still dangerously low.  Scott called family and friends to let them know that we would not be having Christmas dinner at our house.  We felt bad.  Well, actually I didn’t think about feeling for others at that time.  My focus was on Kathryn and only Kathryn.  Still having fun and not letting the hospital setting get us down I joined Kathryn in her bed and she shared her Christmas dinner with me.  It was pretty good.  Shortly after dinner 7:30 pm Kathryn had her seizer.  I screamed the nurses name who had just left the room (Bonnie).  She came running as did other staffers of the ICU.  She was sitting up clutching her little fists and gritting her teeth.  Then it stopped.  Thank God.  But then another one and this time they had to put her on the breathing machine.  Oh, this was not good.  Still hoping that she would come out of this and still believing that God would heal her.  I will stop with this now as the tears are flowing and I need to stop.

Our Christmas Eve was very nice this year.  We went to Johnny’s Dock with the same group we would have gone with last year.  Well, no Matt this year and the addition of Bee’s Grandma and my Mom and friend Robyn.  We sat in the same exact place that we sat in for Christmas Eve 2010.  Wow, that was really something.  After dinner at Johnny’s we went to our house for dessert and a little bit of gift exchanging.

This year Christmas started out with stockings.  My Mom had spent the night.  It was nice to have her here.  The stockings were all hung by the fireplace.  Kathryn’s hung there empty.  Usually it would be filled with socks, maybe a piece of jewelry, some makeup and some other little things.  I bought mandarin oranges for Christmas morning because Kathryn and Richard both love them.  But I forgot to put them out.  Princess got her stuff from her stocking and we took pictures of her ripping open the goodies.  We had pictures taken and then headed out to open gifts.  Richard played Santa as he handed out the gifts.  Kathryn enjoyed this job.  I think Richard was doing his best to keep this day as normal as possible.  It was going well.  I thought about how I would normally take a picture of Richard and Kathryn in front of the tree before we open gifts.  Not this year.  We did take out family picture later in front of the tree.  It was a lovely Christmas.  We cleaned up our morning mess in preparation for our guests.  A delicious dinner and fine conversation.  Then we played the gift exchanged game.  It was fun.  There’s always a few gifts that are worthy of stealing and a couple of gifts that you get stuck with.  My Mom had wrapped a tin of clay figures that she and Kathryn had been exchanging for several years.  I don’t know who started it but they had fun with it.  It will be there next year.  I opened it and went through all of the clay pieces to show them to everyone.  Richard and Kathryn had made these at my Mom and Dad’s house years and years ago.  They sat on the TV for a long time.  When my parents moved that is when they went into the tin.  That was in the spring of 2008.

We received a beautiful gift from our friend Dennis.  It is a picture of Kathryn in a frame that has a saying on it that would really touch your heart.  It did make me cry.  Scott too.  Our nephew also decorated a picture frame with a Panda and bamboo.  In the frame was Kathryn with a huge, pointed, sparkly hat on.  She is in a store and being silly.  Being Kathryn!  My friend Robyn gave us a cabinet door that she painted with a panda and Kathryn’s name.  It is really done well.  She said that it should go on a cabinet that I can keep arts and crafts stuff in for Camp Goodtimes.  I didn’t know she could paint so well.  She also gave us a bamboo plant.

So, now that Christmas is over I think both Scott and I are feeling the let down.  He is not feeling well and I was so lazy yesterday.  In the evening we watched a couple of Hallmark Movies about Christmas.  They are sweet but also tear jerkers.  I feel the depression and would love to go skiing but my knee and hip are still a mess.  Scott’s ACL is not completely stable and he is fearful of hurting it again.  I’m supposed to go up with Bee tomorrow.  I think I will go even if I just ski groomers.  At least I will be out of the house.  I also need to do a few things at the cabin.  And being with Richard will be good for me too.

I thank all of your for reading.  Thank you for all of your kind words, love and support.  I don’t know how I could make it through each day without the support and love from my friends and family.  Thank you so very much.

Love to all of you,

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It’s Almost Christmas 12-23-12

It’s Almost Christmas 12-23-12

Today is December 23rd the day we found out that Kathryn’s sodium level was dangerously low.  We went to the clinic and they didn’t’ do much but send us home and told Kathryn to eat some salty foods.  Well, it didn’t work and we went to the ER after getting back her lab results the next morning.  Richard or I would draw her blood early in the morning so Scott could get it to the lab by 7am.  A team we were. 

So this last week was interesting.  On Monday, I gave tests or quizzes to all of my math classes.  That evening I had many things to do and getting all of those papers corrected just didn’t seem possible.  We were having some o f Kathryn’s friends over the next day around 4 and I had a PT appointment at 2 for about an hour.  This was not leaving me with much time to have the house clean and ready for guests.  Yes, I stress about these things even though I shouldn’t.  As I headed to bed Monday night I was not happy that I couldn’t get all of those papers graded.  I pride myself in returning tests or quizzes the next day.  I have only not made it once in almost 30 years.  I was not happy that the tree wasn’t decorated all of the way.  And there were still things to clean.  Kathryn was watching and listening to me.

Tuesday came and it would have been a half day as it was the last day before break.  Well it had snowed ever so lightly.  It was pretty and didn’t seem to be enough to cancel school.  The snow was gone before noon.  Our drive way was drivable and it is the worst when there is snow.  The phone rang around 5:45 as I was drying my hair.  I knew immediately that it was the call I didn’t want but also did want.  School was canceled.  It said, “Due to the weather conditions and the fact that today is a half day, all Fife Schools are closed.”  Oh my goodness.  Deep in my heart I was hoping to have the day to catch up but I never thought this little tiny bit of snow would close schools.  None of the other school districts were closed around us.  Was this my little angel helping me out?  Was she whispering in the ears of the ones who make this kind of desission? I believe she had a hand in this.  I was relieved to have the entire day to get things done.  I was relieved to not have to tell two of my classes that I didn’t get their tests graded.  The stress was gone and my day was going to be fine.  No worries and no stress.  Thank you to my little girl still looking out for me.

On Tuesday night a few of Kathryn’s friends came over to decorate her room.  Scott had put her tree in her room already.  He also prepared strips of paper to make a new paper chain.  I had cut a few new snowflakes.   The house was clean and set to go.  Once we started her room was filled with boxes of Christmas decorations.  I realized we were missing a bunch of things. Then Scott remembered he had put some boxes way up high in the attic.  There we found all of the things we were looking for.  Her room looks great!  It is so Christmas!  The tree even has tinsel.  There are snowflakes everywhere!  Hanging from the ceiling, stuck to the wall and windows.  There are lights in the window too.  And all those stuffed animals sporting Christmas wears.  The best part of the evening was sharing conversation with her friends.  Matt said, “I remember laying her on her bed and Kathryn had me guess what each cloud was on her ceiling.  I asked her why one pot light had a sun around it and the other one didn’t and she said, you can’t have two suns silly.”  That would be Kathryn.  We all laughed.  To explain a little, I had painted Kathryn’s ceiling as a blue sky with clouds.  Each cloud is something.  Not a perfect something but you could or should be able to guess what it was intended to be.  She loved it when I showed her.  We laid on her bed and she guessed what each cloud was.  She had them all perfect immediately as she and I were pros at finding things in the clouds.  We had pizza and more conversation.  We left the tall stuff for Matt.  He stuck all the snowflakes on the ceiling.  I just wish I was laying on the bed with Kathryn talking to her about Christmas and Zoo lights or the Nutcracker.  Who would be coming to Christmas and who would be with us for Christmas Eve.  It was a beautiful evening even though Kathryn wasn’t there in person.  She was definitely there in spirit.

The next few days I baked, shopped, wrapped gifts and stuffed gift bags.  On Saturday Scott and I played Elves.  We had adopted a family through Candlelighters.  They have a child with cancer.  When I finally received the address, where my family lives I was taken back.  I looked it up online and did the street view.  I knew exactly where this was and I knew they probably didn’t have much.  I was glad I had bought almost everything on their list yet I felt like I should have done even more.  When Scott and I delivered the gifts I think the young dad was taken back.  He seemed to be in shock as we handed him a huge bag and a box filled with gifts.  I hope they have a good Christmas.  As least the kids will have some new toys and clothes.  Oh, I didn’t leave the Mom and Dad out either.  Then in the evening we put together a bunch of gift bags for our neighbors.  We had cookies, chex mix, banana bread, and jam for each family.  It took a while to deliver as we chatted with each neighbor.  It was fun!

Today I made more jam and banana bread for our family gift bags.  I also spent some time on facebook and found a classmate had passed away.  I also found that a young boy had passed away last night.  Liam had just turned two on the 13th.  I had opened the Love Transfusion page to find several children fighting for their lives.  I don’t understand this suffering that has been put on these children and their families but it is there.  Just like the families of the shooting victims.  Why this all happens is beyond my comprehension.  I just have to believe that God is now taking care of our loved ones and they are all healthy and happy.  We are the ones left to suffer and they are now free of pain and suffering. 

I didn’t want to end on a sad note so smile and take in this happy holiday season.  Savor every moment and memory.  I know I will be spending my time with friends and family.  I will soak up the love and enjoy each and every moment.  I will live, laugh and love to the very fullest with my family and friends because this is what living is all about.  Enjoy what God has given us.  I’m so thankful that my memories of Kathryn are all wonderful memories.  She was the light of my life.  We all loved her dearly.  I’m thankful that I had 21 beautiful years with her.  She was the perfect daughter in every way.  I will always miss her.

Love to all of you!  Merry Christmas and Cheers to a beautiful, happy, healthy and love filled 2013.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friday 14th Sad Day for many

Friday 14th Sad Day for many

I can hardly remember this week, as it is just a blur.  But Monday was the 10th and that was the date of Kathryn’s Huge Christmas – Send Off Party.  I cried when she made that invite because she called it a send off party.  She really believed that she was going to die and this would be her big send off.  I don’t know how she could be so brave and strong.  I know she held a lot of it in to save me the pain but now I wish she would have talk to me more about her feelings.

My principal’s son was send to the ER on Wednesday.  He was injured in a wrestling match.  He had to be placed on a ventilator and be in the ICU.  Did that bring back memories?  Oh yes.  I felt for him and his family.  I know what it is like to see your child heavily sedated and all those tubes going into the body.  Listening to the machine pump life into your child.  The tape on the face.  You could hardly see Kathryn’s little face.  You can’t hug or kiss your child like you would like to.  It’s so difficult to watch your child not be who they normally are.  This young man is home and doing fine now.

I had another student get a bad concussion this week too.  Days of impairment.  The mother of this student sent us an email explaining the situation.  You could feel her heart melting as you read it.  Her daughter will be fine but again her child is not who she is supposed to be right now but she will fully recover. 

Then came Friday…  Oh boy.  Now we have parents and siblings of 20 small innocent children murdered by a crazy kid.  I talked to Kathryn briefly about welcoming each and everyone of them to heaven.  Maybe God took her to help with this situation.  As I talked to her I could smell her smell.  I know she was listening.

Richard came down from Bellingham to spend the evening with us.  He was planning leaving Saturday morning and having breakfast with my Mom.  Then heading up to our place in Packwood so he could ski White Pass until Christmas Eve.  Well, he was only a half-mile from home and someone pulled out in front of him and there was nothing Richard could do.  With both feet in he tried to avoid the crash but it happened way too fast.  He’s going to the ER today to have his back checked out.  The other guy went to the hospital in an ambulance for a possible broken arm.  Both cars a toast.  Richard’s ski rack full of skis was ripped right off the top of the car.  This caused more damage to the car, destroyed the ski rack and did some damage to some skis.  One of the pairs of skis damaged he was selling in just a few hours.  He told the guy about it and made the repair to the skis.  The guy still wanted them, which worked out great for both Richard and this guy.  Richard had just bought that ski rack because last year an Elk jumped over his car and ripped the ski rack off.  I think the most upsetting thing is that Richard took a long time finding this car.  It was the car of his dreams.  And we said it was a gift from Kathryn.  You see she wanted to do something for Richard so we helped him buy this car with money from Kathryn’s car and her life insurance.  I told the guy at the accident that the car was a gift from his dead sister and that was the worst part of this accident.  They guy didn’t have insurance and he was driving with a suspended license.  And it was his fault as the police officer wrote him a ticket.  Well, several tickets.  He was a nice enough guy and felt bad about it too. 
Richard’s girlfriend (Bee) will be here on Sunday or Monday.  Hopefully Richard can get everything taken care of by Monday afternoon so he can get up to the mountain and do what he loves.  Skiing was the gift he received with Kathryn’s first diagnoses.  I still think about my brother giving himself to Richard every weekend for a year or two.  Richard thinks about it too.  He knows that it took a lot of my brother’s time and he is so grateful to my brother.  He introduced him to a life of skiing and to many new friends. 

Richard and I did a little shopping while we waited to meet the guy who was buying the skis.  He’s fun to be with but there were so many cute girly things that I would have looked at with Kathryn.  Richard and I by passed the dollar section at Target.  It would have been the first stop for Kathryn and I.  I didn’t look at the Christmas towels or the darling baby outfit I spotted.  How about the Christmas decorations?  Of course Kathryn and I would have looked through each and every isle.  Boys are just different.  You enjoy different things with boys than you do with girls. 

After we got home Richard and I each settled in with our bags of ice.  Mine for my knee and his for his back.  Scott had a movie for us to watch.  As a family we relaxed and watched the movie before bed.   I so love spending time as a family!

This weekend I plan on decorating the rest of the house.  Getting the tree up and wrapping some gifts are on the list too.  I will also go to the hospital with Richard and maybe do a little shopping with him.  I will make it a good one.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Some tough times 12/3 - 12/8

December 3rd to 8th

This weekend Scott and I went to the cabin.  We have redone the kitchen and it really looks good.  We did plumbing, painting, electrical, carpentry and clean up.  We brought Kathryn’s ipod with us and listened to her music while we worked.  As I listened I couldn’t help but think about what Kathryn would be thinking about each song.  How she might dance to the music or laugh at the words.  How would she feel while hearing certain songs?  What would she be thinking?  I know that some of the songs were songs she had for me and others for Scott and one came on she specifically told me she had for Richard.  These things I will never forget.  Scott and I did a beautiful job making over the kitchen if I do say so myself.

I was also left a beautiful message on the last blog.  Thank you! 

My friend had called while I was at the cabin and left a message.  She said that hearing Kathryn’s voice on the recording is like she is not gone at all.  I agree.  I guess that’s why it is and will be there forever as far as I’m concerned.  I have called it just to hear her voice.   I think Scott has too.

Scott was looking through some of his text messages from Kathryn.  Those things are nice to go back to and read.  I have done it too.    

So much is going on in my head.  Today (December 3rd) was the day we flew home from Houston.  It just wouldn’t leave my mind today.  For the first time this school year I had to walk out of the room to go hide my tears.  While in the bathroom one of my students from a different period walked in the bathroom.  She asked me if I was ok.  She said, I know how you feel.  I could only say, “You have no idea.”  She understood.  She knew not to take it the wrong way.  She was good about not saying too much and knowing she could say just enough to help. 

I couldn’t take the thought of Kathryn so excited to get home out of my mind.  She was doing so well that day.  She wanted to be herself and independent.  She wanted to prove she could do things on her own and she did.  She wanted so badly to get better and live.  I wanted her to get better and live too.  We all did!

I had to leave my 6th period class for a moment too.  I found a paper Kathryn had written in my computer.  She knew where she stood way back in 2010.  She wrote about her cancer as a blessing but still knowing that she had a grade 4 brain tumor.  How does one write in such a positive manor when your life may end by this disease you believe has brought so many blessings to your life.  It did bless us, all of us in one way or another.  We never took it as a negative but as an awareness.  A disease that brought us together, gave us more friends and family.  It made us aware of others.  It made us open and feel more for others than ourselves.  Yes, it gave us love to share and hope to give to others even when our own situation was at the end and still to this day we give to those less fortunate and share hope through our experience. 
I looked at the photos on the wall in my classroom.  Kathryn made our lives silly.  She was the one that had us pose in silly ways.  She was the thinker of silly ways to spice up life.  I miss that. 

After school I gave blood.  I was greeted with a big cheer as I had reached the 6 gallon mark.  I started donating at the first Relay for Life that I attended.  So Kathryn’s cancer got me started.  I hated needles and finally became brave probably after seeing my little 8 year old daughter being so brave each time she had to be poked.  And she got poked a lot.  We have the beanie babies to prove it.  I bought her one after she would get a poke but only if she was good and cooperative.  I think there was only one time she didn’t get one out of all those many many times.  She made me a better person.  She made me brave, she made me realize that I should and could give blood. It’s not so bad.  The young man who set me up to give blood today was kind, gentle and soft spoken.  He had a good sense of humor too.  He is applying to nursing school and I hope he gets in.  He will be a wonderful nurse.  You can just tell that he has the compassion needed for that job. 

Today I also read the Camp Goodtimes newletter.  I didn’t know that my son had written an article for it.  He wrote how camp gave him a place to share with other siblings.  He also wrote how he and Kathryn loved camp and how they looked forward to camp each year and every day of the year because it became a big part of their lives.  He wrote about how the camp family was there for us during Kathryn’s diagnoses and still to this day.  He wrote about how it made him and Kathryn a team.  Yes, they were a team for camp.  There was a beautiful picture of the two of them too.  There was also a picture of the holiday cruise that was a couple of weeks ago.  It was a large group picture but in the middle being held up high was a panda bear.  We all know that it was there for Kathryn.  Yep, She will always be part of Camp Goodtimes.

Monday was an emotional day and I laid on the couch that night feeling sorry for myself.  Tuesday was a much better day.  Wednesday even better.  I started my physical therapy for my knee and hip on Wednesday.  While in the waiting room and man started a conversation with me.  He was talking about his 21 year old daughter moving back home.  She was changing colleges so she could move home and save money.  He was kind of making it like it was a bad thing.  All I could think is how I wish my Kathryn were moving home.  I talked to him and told him to enjoy the time with his daughter.  Before he knows it she will be out of the house for good.  As he left that night I reminded him as he said good bye to enjoy his children each and every moment.  I don’t think he was upset that his daughter was moving home just a bit surprised and talking like most parents would if their adult child moved back home.  I know I would have never complained.  I would have loved to have Richard and Kathryn live with me forever. 

On Friday we had two Christmas parties to go to.  The first one was for the Mary Bridge Hematology and Oncology departments.  I was asked earlier for an 8 by 10 of Kathryn for the Angel table.  I think Trinna knew I was having a hard time thinking about going to the clinic and dropping off the picture.  She asked me If she could make a print of one of the pictures I had sent her and I said yes.  It was actually a big relief.  When we arrived at the clinic party we were greeted with hugs and love.  It really felt good.  While talking to Kathryn’s doctor’s wife she said their daughter Kate (Kathryn’s good friend) was planning on forming a relay team called Team Panda.  I told her that this would be wonderful.  I had already mentioned something like this to couple of her friends and they were ready to do it.  I’m glad that she wants to do this.  I didn’t know if I really wanted to head this up.  I was happy to hear that one of her friends wanted to take this on.  We also talked to a woman with a little girl with leukemia.  It’s hard to believe that Kathryn was that little when she was first diagnosed.  This party brought back memories of the first clinic Christmas party that we went to.  How we had family photos taken with Mr. and Mrs. Claus each year for many years.  It reminded me of all the other clinic parties and how many children and parents are affected by cancer.  Mrs. Irwin also told me how she had lost a sibling when she was younger.  She broke out with a terrible case of shingles from the stress.  This is why I am concerned for Richard.  I don’t want him to have to go through anything like that.  I was also told that Kathryn’s good friend is facing cancer in her family.  Her father was diagnosed with cancer for a second time.  I hate this disease.  This party also made me think of a little girl from way back that was so weak that she was in a wheel chair.  My cousin Peggy had told us about megace to get Kathryn to eat.  It worked and Kathryn stayed strong.  After we used it they used it for this little girl and it helped her too.  Kathryn was the first child to be given megace because we asked her doctor to use it.  They continue to use it now.  This party also reminded me of a family we met who had a son who had the same tumor Kathryn had when she was 8.  His grew back and he died.  The mother also died shortly after.  Her heart just stopped.  So cancer took her life too.

We then went to my staff party.  My coworkers greeted me with friendly cheers and hugs.  We had a good time there playing the gift exchange game and just talking with people.  Scott said he was glad that I had a fun place to go after the clinic party.   It was good but that night I was so mad at God.  I layed in bed for a while talking to him in not such a nice way.  I was really mad.  I told him that he is said to be a loving God and one that looks out for us.  I can’t imagine anyone who loves me allowing me to be so hurt.  How could he allow so much pain?  How could he take so much from us?  I went on and on.  I was so mad and maybe it was just confusion and hurt.  But I talked to him for a while.  I hope he was listening to know how I feel.

Today (Saturday) started off slow.  We got to bed really late 1:30 or so and then the alarm went off at 5 am and I couldn’t get back to sleep.  I did get the fall decorations down and put away.  We also picked out a tree from the tree stand by our house.  We told the guy about the tree growing last year.  Yes, while we were at the hospital that crazy tree grew.  On the 22nd of January that tree was still fresh.  It was amazing!  It waited for us to get home and celebrate Christmas.  Maybe God was looking out for us after all.  We were able to have a last Christmas together and see Kathryn smile and get excited about gifts.  I also put up all of the lights on the bushes outside.  Kathryn loved doing this.  I was reminded of a picture of her in the tree putting up the lights.  Scott had Christmas music playing while I decorated the bushes.  I still have more to do. But it does look pretty good already.

I’ll make it.  I keep telling myself that I can do this holiday season.  I can do it.  It is hard but life must go on.  Kathryn would want me to enjoy her favorite holiday.  I will do my best to make it all good.  Scott is doing everything he can to help me through it and I’m so grateful.  He is a good guy!

Love you all,

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Remembering 12-1-12

Remembering 12-1-12

Reading about Colton who is a young boy at children’s with leukemia.  I believe he is on his second bone marrow transplant.  His mother writes about how she wishes she had just those little things in life to worry about and not cancer in her child.  You know those things like breaking a nail or maybe being late to an appointment or burning your toast in the morning.  Well, when your child gets cancer those things don’t even matter any more.  You don’t think about the dust on the picture frames, if your nails are filed or if you have done the laundry.  Forget about shopping or going out, your first concern is for your child and everything else is an after thought.  I’m sorry if I have made any of my friends feel left out or not in my thoughts in the past few years but Kathryn was always there on my mind.  She was always first because I was told that this tumor would take her life when we first discovered it on April 27th 2010.  If she was home from school I made myself available to be with her.  I didn’t care what I had to push aside because I knew this could be the last time I did this or that with her.  Having things like this on your mind makes everything else fuzzy thoughts in the background.  So, if you know of someone with a loved one fighting cancer, understand that they are not all there.  They are constantly thinking about their loved one.  They are in fear and hoping and praying all of the time.  Their thoughts are consumed so they may not hear you or understand your needs.  This is even more intense for a parent of a child with cancer or their close brother or sister. 

This makes me wonder just how Richard may feel.  He stuffs it all inside and tries to bury his pain.  He over works himself to avoid feeling what he feels about losing his sister and best friend.  I wish he would just open up and cry on my shoulder but I know he won’t.

Yesterday (Friday) I had a parent come in after school to learn some math.  As we were talking she asked about a tutor.  She asked me if I could think of a student that was at the high school that would be a good tutor.  Maybe someone I had in the last two years.  I told her I wasn’t here at Columbia last year and that my daughter had passed away so my mind was completely blank of any names from the last two years.  You see that is what I mean.  I taught for that whole year while Kathryn was on treatment but my mind wasn’t really there.  And then in the fall of 2011 she had more symptoms and I was absent from everything but thinking about ways we could save her.  No thoughts about anyone or anything but Kathryn.

So, Christmas is just around the corner and more and more things remind me of Kathryn.  Christmas was her favorite time of year.  As I drive by my neighbors house each day I see the paper snowflakes made by the girls.  Kathryn would want to go up to their house and teach them how to make round, not square snowflakes.  Her friends had made snowflakes last year for her room and she said, “Oh Anna, you need to learn how to not make square snowflakes.”  She knew exactly which snowflakes her good friend Anna made. 

Our Christmas card is ok this year.  We took a photo with our Panda hats on.  Even Princess wore one.  Klyde wasn’t around so Scott picked a picture of Kathryn holding Klyde.  She was turning 20 and we were in Bellingham for her birthday and Richard’s 24th birthday.  We had a nice time but they even had a bigger celebration when we weren’t there.  You know those college kids!

I told my Mom that I didn’t want to go to the Nutcracker this year.  That was our three some tradition.  Three generations of ladies dressing up to go to the Nutcracker and then out to dinner.  We went last year.  I think dinner was frustrating for Kathryn that night.  She had a hard time using a fork because her hand didn’t work well.  I do think she enjoyed the Nutcracker and then on our way to dinner we watched the boat parade.  It just happened to be that night.  I don’t know that I will ever go to the Nutcracker again.  It was really something Kathryn loved to do and with out her it just isn’t the same.

Zoolights – Well 2010 was the last time I went to zoolights.  Can you guess who went with me?  Yes, Kathryn.  I have the picture on the wall in my classroom of us heading out to go to Zoolights.  We were all bundled up with stocking caps and warm coats.  I do plan on going to this.  I will take my Mom and maybe someone else. 

Kathryn’s friend sent me a note about how she found a folder of email from her.  She said she could hear Kathryn’s voice and laughter as she read them.  She could go back to sitting in Starbucks with her and planning the games and activities for the Western Washington University Relay for life.  She loved to plan events.  She was great at it too.  We both loved having people over and enjoying their company.  We had so many parties over the years.

This season of Joy is really difficult.  Kathryn’s favorite time of year other than going to Camp  Goodtimes.  I hope I handle Christmas morning ok.  It will be the first one without her.  Our family tradition will be different. 

Monday marks another one of those days.  On December 3rd last year we flew home from Houston.  Kathryn told me at the airport, “I can do this without any help.”  She was talking about getting on the moving sidewalk.  She did do it all by herself.  I was so excited.  Every time I saw some little improvement my hope and joy took a huge leap.  We made the trip home just fine.  Even through security with all of her drugs and needles, syringes and pump.  All of these things had to fly with us not in baggage.  We sent a bunch of things home in the mail like clothes and some things we bought down there.  We did leave a huge Teddy bear in Houston.  One of the workers at the Hotel gave it to Kathryn.  It was so big we would have had to buy it a seat.  We explained why we couldn’t take it and gave it back to the girl.  We told her she could regift it so someone.  She had someone all picked out.  We also shared our Thanksgiving dinner with her since she had to work.  She really appreciated it. 

Lots of memories coming up about the last few weeks of Life with Kathryn.  Painful – but also wonderful to have special memories. 

Well, my niece is now home and on her way to a full recovery.  She went into the hospital the day before Thanksgiving.  She had a lung infection.  Not a good thing but they were able to take care of it. 

Love to all,

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thoughts about Thanksgiving 11-24-12

Thoughts about Thanksgiving 11-24-12

It’s been an interesting week.  I received a letter from the Mary Bridge Oncology Clinic about the Christmas Party.  Kathryn loved to go to this.  She helped hand out gifts a couple of times.  They have a slide show featuring children who have passed away and also photos from some of the parties.  They have a spring or Easter party and a Summer party each year as well as the Christmas party.  So in the letter I was asked to send some pictures in for the slide show.  I was also asked to bring in a photo in a frame to display it on the Angel’s table.  I was happy to do all of this.  But when it came time to look through photos I just burst into tears.  The tears just flow so fast and so hard.  Maybe this is why I haven’t put those photos in the album yet.  I’m so far behind it is crazy.  It will be the last album that has photos of Kathryn in it.  Maybe that is why I been putting it off.  No more pictures will ever be taken of her.  It’s so hard to think about it.  But it is this way and I just have to suck it up.

Richard came down on Wednesday to help out with the preparations for Thanksgiving.  He was pretty fun to have around as I went through the china and silver for setting the table.  He looked through things and asked a lot of questions.  The china with the roses was my Grandma’s on my Dad’s side and the silver was Scott’s Mom’s.  Are these crystal glasses?  Yes, son and some day all of this will be yours.  I told him that you can get more of the china through a company but it will cost a fortune.  I purchased a couple of plates years ago at $35 a piece.  Richard was a big help with the food too.  He loves to cook and does a great job.  Well, I did have to save the stuffing after he added too much liquid and turned it into mush.  In the end it was great.  He also bar-b-qued a Steelhead.  Scott made the turkey and Richard carved it.  Richard and I each made a bowl of mashed potatoes.  It was fun to have him in the kitchen with me.  My Mom came down early on Thanksgiving and helped too.  She peeled an entire ten pound bag of potatoes.  I don’t know that we could have done the whole deal without all of these helping hands.

On Thanksgiving my Mom said she had a message from my sister-in-law on her cell phone but she could hardly hear it.  I listened to it.  We also received a call from my sister-in-law’s sister too.  My niece was in the hospital.  She had gotten an infection in her lungs.  She had surgery on the 21st to remove 400 cc of fluid and bacteria.  She had a second surgery on Thanksgiving Day to remove 500 cc of fluid and bacteria.  They also inserted a tube for draining.  This required moving ribs which so very painful.  I cracked a couple of ribs once and it took so long to get better.  It hurts so much too.  When I listened to the message my emotions went crazy.  It was bad news of a young girl who didn’t deserve to be in this position.   It was another set of parents worried about their little girl.  This is just too hard to take.  It made me think of how we had grand plans for Christmas Eve last year and we ended up in the hospital.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to go home very quickly and ours turned from what we thought would be a quick fix to the beginning of the end.  Fortunately my niece will be good to go home in a few days.  Prayers are welcome for her speedy and complete recovery.  Her name is Julia so when you pray say her name. 

Our Thanksgiving went on.  I was so happy to see my brother Mike.  He has had a rough time as he is going through a divorce.  He looked good and sounded good.  My friend Robyn came over.  Scott’s aunt and uncle were here.  My Mom of course.  My niece Emily, Richard’s girlfriend (Katherine) and her Mom, uncle and her Mom’s friend Dean were all here.   My cousin Mark and his daughter were here.  And my Mom’s only living sibling, her sister Mary Jane was here too.  We had a lovely evening.  Everyone contributed to the meal or drinks.  Many helpful hands in the clean up too.  We had each filled out a piece of paper to say what we were thankful for and then we circulated them around the table at dinner time.  We each picked one out of the bowl and read it.  So no one read their own.  It was fun.  What was funny about this is that I was thinking about doing this and without Richard knowing that I was thinking about this he asked me if we could do this.  It told him that it was so funny that he should ask me because I was thinking about doing this very thing.  Anyhow it was fun.  We had some good laughs. 

As far as my emotions go I was holding it together well.  I was too busy to get thinking about how I felt.  For a moment during dinner I did kind of got away mentally and almost started to cry but then I pulled myself back.  Last year we were in Houston.  It was fine to be there thinking and hoping we were saving Kathryn.  We made our little chicken with all the fixings.  We were all together as Team Bradley.  Now one player short but still working as a team.  Richard and I even high fived it as Team Bradley. 

After everyone left and Mom, Richard and Scott all went to bed Katherine and I went and sat in the hot tub.  We talked and talked.  We were both very wrinkled when we got out at 1:30.  I love her so much.  It is nice that my son has a girlfriend that is my friend too.  We talked about our losses, her sister 2003, her Dad 2007 and Kathryn 2012.  I think this has all created a huge hurt and mistrust in God.  We all prayed but our prayers were not answered the way we wanted them to be answered.  I have forgiving God and have learned to trust that this is only a short life here and the one to come will only be better.  I still feel so much pain but this dear girl and her mother have had so much more pain sent their way.  She even said that life is so different without Kathryn.  It was just normal to make decisions about meals with Kathryn in mind.  What would Kathryn like for dinner?  What would Kathryn eat?  My little Kathryn was a huge part of Richard and Katherine’s everyday life.  Now they don’t have her around and it is different.  You know that change in life I have talked about, well this is part of it.  Change in the way we live with an empty feeling.  There is a void that will never be filled.  We go through our days thinking about Kathryn knowing we won’t here her sweet little voice and knowing that we will never hug her or kiss her or hold her again.  As I sat at the Thanksgiving table I thought about how I would be hearing her in silly conversation with my brother and his daughter.  She would have been sitting there enjoying them as they would have been enjoying her.  But it could only be imagined. 

I also received an email this week from an organization called Candlelighters.  This organization works with families who have children with cancer.  They asked if I would like to adopt a family for Christmas.  I said yes or course.  Kathryn would have wanted me to do this.  She and I would have had a blast out shopping for the family.  One of the things I remember not getting done last year was getting a name from the giving tree.  Kathryn had reminded me that we needed to do this.  I never went out to get a name because I didn’t want to leave her.  I knew she could have a seizer at any time and I would not have ever want to be away if this happened.  Anyhow I never got a name so I guess I am making up for it by taking on a whole family.  It will be fun to go shopping for them.  I miss buying things for Kathryn.  I see things and think about how she would love this and that.  Also Christmas movies are coming out and she would want to see them.  Or she would want to pull out the Christmas movies that we have here at home and we would watch them.  It doesn’t matter if we have seen them several times and it never mattered that they were old.  We still enjoyed the joy they brought and the time we shared watching them together.  She had this sweetness about her.  A complete and under innocence that made her “child”.  Yep, we called her child.  We probably would have called her child forever because of her sweet, innocent heart. 

Little Rowan is doing well and so is the other 4 year old I told you about.  Pray that the State of Texas allows Dr. Bryzinski to start taking in pediatric patients again.  He has had to turn children away because of the government.  One that I know of has passed away.  This should not be happening.  I have read other things about our government and the drug companies.  It is not pretty.  They don’t want to find cures or preventions when they can treat symptoms with drugs for long periods of time and make millions and billions of dollars.  So sad to think that there are people who want money more than happiness and health for others.  Anyhow pray that Dr. Bryzinski can start taking in more children to save them and their families form this disease (cancer). 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I hope you all had a chance to reflect on your blessings.  We have many things to be thankful for and don’t always take the time to think about just how very blessed we are. 

Love you all,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving 11-17-12

Thanksgiving 11-17-12

On Sunday (11-11) my Mom and I went to a special shopping trip to the Super Mall.  You had to purchase a $5 ticket to get in.  I had bought our tickets from kids from my school.  They were selling the tickets as a fundraiser.  The night before we went (Saturday night) I had a dream that Kathryn wanted to go with us too.  I told her I was sure I could buy a ticket at the door so she went with my Mom and me.  It would be just like the real deal.  The three of us shopping together.  The three of us did things together all of the time.  Well my Mom and I had a great time shopping.  I love her so much.  It would have been even that much better if Kathryn would have been with us.

I’ve been trying to figure out where my life is heading.  It was always so clear before Kathryn left us.  I think I’m supposed to help with Camp Goodtimes.  As you know I attended Camp for the first time this past summer.  Nine days ago I spoke at a special evening to help gain support for camp.  This last week on Tuesday night Scott and I went to a planning meeting for the wine auction for Camp Goodtimes.  It’s a very special evening.  I went to it last year and had a very good time.  I was also asked to spearhead a new committee to help work with parents of campers or with parents of potential campers or just spreading awareness about camp.  Of course I said I would.  Soon I will hear about the vision of this committee so I can get it moving.  I’m starting to understand that it is my mission to help Camp Goodtimes continue and grow.  It is a fabulous place for kids with cancer to escape from what can be a very cruel world for a kid who looks different because of steroids, radiation or cancer itself.  I have always asked for people to support me in the past as I raised funds for The Relay for Life.  It too is an American Cancer Society event just like Camp Goodtimes is an American Cancer Society event.  I will now ask for support for Camp Goodtimes.  Some of the money I have raised in the past went to camp since it is part of the American Cancer Society.  The only difference is that I would be designating that all of the money I raise go to camp in honor of Kathryn.  It means a great deal to all of us.

So now to the part of how I have been doing.  I had been doing pretty well until the last four or five days.  I seem to be back to crying.  I just miss Kathryn so much.  It’s going to be hard going through the Holidays without her.  I just can’t imagine Christmas morning.  I thought about Thanksgiving and how she should be here to help me set the table and just get the house ready.  She was always my  helper.  When counting all who will be here it’s hard to say three of us not four.  Last year we were in Houston.  We had a good Thanksgiving.  We made a chicken and stuffed it like a turkey.  We had the mashed potatoes and the gravy.  Matt and family had sent flowers and they were on our table in our hotel as we had our Thanksgiving dinner.  We were so grateful just to all be there together.  Kathryn seemed to be stable and we were hoping this treatment was doing what it was supposed to do.  It was but she just couldn’t have enough of it.

So, Christmas in on our minds.  Scott brought up the ornament that he bought for Kathryn last year.  I told him that the memory of her putting that ornament on the tree was in my mind.  I had too been thinking about it.  She was home from the hospital and in a wheelchair but she reached out and placed that beautiful ornament on the tree.  That crazy tree that actually grew while we were in the hospital.  That tree that stayed fresh for us all that time.  We finally were able to celebrate Christmas on January 22nd.  Kathryn was so excited with her gifts.  She smiled and showed her appreciation.  Richard helped her open gifts as we all did.  It wasn’t our normal Christmas but again we were just grateful to all be there together.  Still hoping for a miracle.

I look at the photos in my classroom and smile but almost break down and cry too.  Such great memories and yet that is all they are now.  All I have of Kathryn are memories.  That really sucks.  I have been staying very busy to keep my mind occupied.  It helps.  I had the meeting on Tuesday night,  went to the gym and tutored after for two and a half hours on Wednesday night, had arena conferences at school on Thursday night and went out to Scott’s Aunt and Uncle’s house on Friday night.  Tomorrow (Sunday) I will be cleaning house all day.  I hope I can keep my mind busy while doing this.  Now I realize I have been avoiding this kind of work because I do a lot of thinking while cleaning.  It needs to get done.  I'll just have to suck it up and get it done.

Scott knows that I am having a difficult time.  I’m sure he is too.  We spent the day together trying to gain our life back.  We went to a movie and haven’t done that for years.  We did some shopping together and went to dinner.  We had a very nice day just the two of us.  I guess we are back to where we started some 30 years ago.  Just the two of us.  Richard does keep in touch.  He is such a great son.  He is really good about calling.  He talks to one of us each day.  We always count our blessings when we think of him.  I’m excited to see him on Wednesday. 

I guess I will have to do a great deal of praying for strength.  Speaking of praying, a boy from camp was in the hospital and hoping to get home for Thanksgiving.  He went home, I think it was yesterday or maybe this morning.  This is great!  He looked so happy to be going home.  I had been sending little messages to him.  My cousin Lori will need prayers too.  She is the one who’s husband passed away from cancer in May.  She has two young boys too.  I do have a lot to be grateful for and will be thinking of this too. 

I’m off to bed so I can get a lot done tomorrow.  If I don’t write before Thanksgiving,  I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I hope that you all remember that you are fortunate to have all that you do.  I hope you remember of those things your health, faith, and loved ones are above all of the material things.  Give Thanks.

Love to all,