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
Thursday, September 19, 2013
September 2nd marked 19 months since Kathryn’s passing. It seems like it just happened. Actually it is still something that doesn’t seem real. It still feels like she will be coming home to see me and we will talk and hug or maybe go to Starbucks and have a cup of coffee. It won’t happen but it does in my mind.
I had a dream that I was in a car with Kathryn and Princess and the road became very icy and undriveable. Kathryn and I ended up having to leave the car and walk leaving Princess for some odd reason. As we arrived to our destination we were wondering about Princess and then she came running up to us, all wiggles and smiles. This did kind of happen on time. Kathryn and I were driving home from our cabin in Packwood. It was in April and it was a beautiful sunny day. I decided to take Skate Creek Road so we could shave 30 minutes off of our drive time. I was hoping we would make it back in time to go watch the school play at the school where I work. Well just like in the dream the road became icy and snowy. I started to slide and all there is to my right is a cliff with a small river at the bottom. I slow and crawl along. I finally realize that my car is not going to make this trip as we climbed a small hill. It would not climb even a small hill. I didn’t exactly have tires for the snow on my car but rather I had track tires on my car. I think both Kathryn and I were relieved to have found a spot to make a turn around. The road had only gotten worse the farther we went so turning around was a great idea. So we didn’t make the play but we made it home safely.
Tuesday 9/3 was the first day of school. I always have a letter that I write that tells a bit about my family and myself. I do tell about Kathryn and her passing. It gets very quiet at that time. Kids are very respectful and I appreciate this. Sierra, who knows me well said, “this is sad” as she read through the part about Kathryn. I don’t know if I should stop mentioning this but for now it is who I am and this is my life so I will continue to include it.
On Wednesday (9/4) I wrote to a man who was just diagnosed with a GBM (the same brain tumor Kathryn died from) on September 2nd. He’s concerned about telling his children that he is going to die. My first letter never went through but then I tried again and did get a second one to go through. I hope that my words were hopeful and helpful. I know what the doctors have told him as they told me I would be lucky to have Kathryn one year. They told me it would come back and kill her. He has heard those same words. If he gets even a little extra time there could be a new method of treating this beast. They are working on it and coming up with new things all of the time. It is just that, a matter of time. I think writing to him helped me because as I walked Princess that evening I found myself signing aloud. I don’t do this or at least haven’t sung out loud for a very long time. There was happiness in my heart.
On Thursday I had a student ask if that was my daughter on the wall. She asked if she could look at my pictures and I said yes of course. I love it when they take an interest. She said Kathryn was beautiful. I couldn’t agree more. Her smile was so beautiful. She was perfect in every way as far as I am concerned.
I read more about GBM Patients on this site for brain cancer research. It is the most common brain tumor and the most deadly. Some people live just a few days after diagnoses. One woman wrote about her husband who only lived 126 days while there was one who lived 5 or 6 years. The author of the book, Surviving Terminal Cancer is still alive. He is the only GBM survivor that I know of. It has been 19 years for him. I think it is because he is a scientist in the medical field and he would switch form one treatment to another if it appeared one wasn’t working. He continued to change his treatments and also live a very pure life and using natural products to the hilt. I tried this with Kathryn but… well we all know how that turned out.
Ambulances Everywhere – I have been behind or next to an ambulance every day for that past too weeks. Of course they make me think of my ride in the ambulance with Kathryn. I always wonder if I will see those two guys again. For that matter will I see any of the nurses or doctors again? They were all so good to us. The one doctor called to see how Kathryn was doing. She had passed by the time he called. He was so concerned. He wrote us a nice card. Not all doctors take the time to do this. He was the doctor who got Kathryn to a place where she could come home.
On Friday (9/6) some of my boys asked me if I was going to the football game. It sounded like they were playing as they were also dressed in their jerseys. It was the High school varsity team that was playing but my boys were there. I told them I would go if it wasn’t pouring down rain. Well, the sky cleared and it was a gorgeous evening. I really enjoyed talking to the kids there and watching the game. We won too!
I’m really enjoying my students more this year. They are good kids. My yearbook class is amazing. I discuss with them what they should be doing and then they just get to it.
The second week of school has flown by. We had our floors refinished so I have been living out of a suitcase. Other things aren’t going well but that is enough said. School is going well.
I talked to a friend about my classes and I have one young lady who failed my class last year who is earning an A at this time. That means she has completed every assignment so far. She is my project this year. She is a great kid but it is obvious that she has no support at home. At least no one to ask her about homework or help her with homework. So I hope to help fill this spot by keeping a very close eye on her work and using that mothering push to keep her going. There are a couple of others who will need similar attention. I have one boy who is autistic and I have already had a couple of email conversations with his mom. She is on top of it that’s for sure. He came to school after we went over how to put a notebook together with is already to go. He just works a little slower but I think he will be just fine. He has great support at home and that makes all the difference in the world.
Today (9/14) is the funeral for the 10 year old I wrote about. Yes, cancer took her too. It just took a long time Porsche Club member too. Also another friend of ours lost a close friend of his to cancer too. He asked me about the man who sang at Kathryn’s service and about setting up a bank fund for the family for donations. This man left his family with no life insurance and dept. They need help. I told my friend that the wife needs to know that people want to help and giving them an avenue to do so is good. She doesn’t want to look like she is begging but she isn’t. There is a need to fill. My goodness, the bills could be horrendous. I know our 4 months cost us $100,000 to $110,000 but we had a life insurance policy. Anyhow, I gave him all the information I had and thoughts and ideas. It just a shitty position for anyone.
I’m going to end on a good note. Our floors are done and I will return home today. I did look at them from the door way and they look like new floors. Absolutely beautiful! My gym workouts are going great. I can really tell that my right leg has been lazy as it heals. It is so much weaker than my left leg. And when they work together I can feel the left leg doing more. It will all even out. I do feel so much better. I don’t hurt like I did.
Richard is planning on heading out to North Carolina for a camp retreat. Well, it is a big deal for him. He has really been involved in planning events for camp to help raise funds.
He is also enjoying his student teaching. He had open house the other night and it went well. A quick 10 minutes with each class of parents. I remember those nights.
He is doing great!
Well, I didn’t get this out like I thought I would so here’s a little more. I went to the Staff appreciation dinner (9/18) for Camp Goodtimes Staff. I am so proud to have Richard as my son. He and his girlfriend Bee earned the Volunteer of the Year award. Of course I teared up as Beef spoke about my son and his girlfriend and how they have taken their cancer experiences and used them to help others. It was a great evening because I was with such great people. How can you not feel good around people who give so selflessly? I love this Camp Family!!!
So, today I looked at the mail and there was a letter for Kathryn. Well an advertisement for Kathryn. On the envelope it said, “Get a glimpse of your future…. Well if these people only knew. There is no future. It has all been put to an end by cancer.
I have a good weekend ahead. Looking forward to spending some time with friends.
Monday, September 2, 2013
Labor Day 2013
Tdoday 9-2-13 marks 19 months since Kathryn passed away
Tdoday 9-2-13 marks 19 months since Kathryn passed away
This week started with the news of child passing brain cancer and ends with another child passing from brain cancer. Hanna was diagnosed in 2007 and died in 2010 just after her 12th birthday. 8/1/98 to 8/30/10 This really makes me question why. Why did she and so many other children have to die? I don’t know why I was given the news about Hannah but it showed up on my facebook page. She may have been a camper from Camp Goodtimes. Just too many kids.
On Monday on the way home from my Mom’s I pass Mountain View Funeral Home. This is where Kathryn was taken after she passed. I don’t know why we always come home this way. We always go to the cabin or to my Mom’s house a different way but when coming home we always pass the Funeral Home. It makes me see Kathryn lying so still. I see her as she was that last day or in the viewing. I don’t see struggle, just peace and quiet. They took very good care of her and made her look good for her viewing.
I returned to the gym on Tuesday (8/27) after seeing my hip Doctor. I have a new trainer Shawn. He shared a bit about himself with me and I shared with him. I told him about Kathryn and then he shared more with me. His brother passed away in 2010 of an accidental carbon monoxide over dose. It was from a generator that was outside but still too close to the doorway. His mother had a hip replacement about 2 years ago so he knows that I have new limits. We worked on my upper body this day and I felt it for three. It’s nice to get back to the gym and I think Shawn is going to be a good trainer.
Wednesday 8/28 - we had Cougar Kick Off at our school. That is when the families come in and get their picture, buy their ASB and Yearbook, and a chance to go through the school and meet their teachers. I was wearing one of the shirts Kathryn designed (Let a Cure Rain Down). A Dad really liked it and might order one later in the year. This was a good day of meeting students and getting together with my Columbia Family. At Lunch it was decided that I was the most senior teacher. Now that doesn’t mean I am the oldest but the one with the most teaching years. I thought for sure there were a couple of teachers who had me beat but I was wrong.
Richard has been filling us in on how things are going and I think he is going to have a great semester. He is so stoked to be there.
Thursday (8/29) was a day of meetings at school for Richard and me. At my school we were well taken care of with breakfast, lunch and then a gathering with food and drink at our principals house afterwards. Once again it was good to sit and talk with my Columbia family. On the way to our principal’s house you go by a cemetery. I thought about how I might feel passing by it each day. I guess it wouldn’t be a big deal since I had no connection with this one. The one Kathryn was sent to has more than just her as a connection. It is the place where I went to my first funeral of a close loved one. I was in third grade and it was for my Grandpa Lee. They had the full 21-gun salute and I remember everything about that day. It’s like it was engraved in my brain. Then when I was in 9th grade my Grandma Peggy passed away at the hands of a doctor who didn’t follow the proper procedures. This one was a real hard one for me as she and I did a lot together. I picked out her casket. I picked out the clothes she would wear. I helped pick every thing about the day we would lay her to rest. Yes, I was 14 years old at the time. It was what I thought would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do. But then I had to do it for my own daughter.
On Friday (8/30) I went in to school to meet with rep from the new yearbook company. He showed me the basics after spending an hour with me. I feel a lot better about the program now and my ability to do everything. Another teacher complemented me on my bulletin boards today. I said, “My daughter made them two years ago.” Yes, Kathryn did my bulletin boards for me in 2011. They are very bright. I think I may have changed the boarder on the calendar board. I went to the gym again today. While I was working out with Shawn two young men came up and said hi to me. I gave them each a big hug, as they are Kathryn’s friends. I love seeing her friends. I love it even more that they came up to me to say hi. They have both graduated from college. One of them is dating my hip doctor’s daughter (Kathryn’s friend Paige). It was great to chat with them and keep up with what they are doing.
Saturday I did a bunch of things around the house like washing windows and cleaning the roof over the carport. I won’t get on the steep roof of the house. In the evening Scott and I took a nice evening walk when Scott said something about the tracks. Those tracks! They are swerving tire tracks from the ambulance making its way up the hill in the snow and ice after bringing Kathryn home from the hospital. They are a constant reminder. It’s a good reminder in that Kathryn made it home. And yet it is a reminder of her struggles.
Sunday morning break down – I lost it! I just cried pretty darn hard. I miss my baby so much. Pulled myself together and got busy. As you know that is how our family handles this. We stay busy. I dropped off a gift for a friend’s Dad. I hope he likes it. Yes, he was stricken by cancer too. First the prostrate and now skin cancer. I was also hit with an email about a young girl (10?) passing away from cancer. Her tumor started in the nasal cavity (I think). It sounded a lot like my Cousin’s husband who passed in May of 2012. As far as this little girl goes I don’t think her cancer lingered on too long. I don’t know if this is bad or a blessing. She has an older brother too. It makes me wonder how he is doing. Is he staying busy or is he hanging around in a fog. It’s so hard for the sibling as they seem to get less attention and need it just as much if not more than the parents. Well, My day went better as I spent some time with my friend Robyn, swimming at her aunts house.
And here is something someone posted:
Don't cry for me Daddy,
I'm right here.
Although you can't see me
I see your tears.
I visit you often,
I go to work with you each day,
And when it's time for you
to close your eyes,
On your pillow is where I lay.
I hold your hand &
stroke your hair,
And whisper in your ear.
If you're sad today Daddy,
Remember, I am here.
God took me home.
This we know is true.
But you'll always be My Daddy
Even though I'm not with you.
We will never be apart,
For everytime you think of me,
Please know I'm in your Heart..........
This is the official last day of summer. A bit cooler but a good day. So many things to be thankful for. I have a great family, good friends and a great place to work with people who are totally awesome. I have a nice home and plenty of food. I Have health and that is really important. And I have so many people who love me. I’m a lucky girl! J
Just received a phone call that Scott was in a car accident in Everett. He’s fine! Not our car but a friend’s big truck. Not the friend’s fault either. Some guy ran a red light. They have a witness who is staying to give a statement to the police. The guy tried to leave – probably doesn’t have insurance. Just glad the guys are all ok.
Have a great Labor Day!http://www.dwellable.com/u/add_post/2776