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.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Another year older 8/27/13

Another year older 8/27/13

While visiting my friend Robyn she remembered to give me these two little pandas (stuffed animals) from a young girl “McKenzie”.  McKenzie lived next door sometimes.  I say sometimes because her Mom was a drug addict and lost custody of her a few times and moved around a lot too.  She was twelve at the time and Robyn told her that she could some over to her house any time she wanted to escape the drug situation.  McKenzie’s Mom felt so bad for me because she knew what it was like to lose her daughter.  Well those were her words.  She doesn’t know what it is like because she has total control over whether or not she loses her daughter.  I had no control.  She could change her ways and straighten her life out.  I’m not saying it would be easy but it can be done.  I couldn’t do anything in my power to stop the cancer in Kathryn’s brain.  I tried everything.  I called doctors all over the country.  I prayed and offered my life for hers.  I would have done anything regardless of how difficult it would have been or how much I would have had to sacrifice.  I would have been worth anything to see her recover.  Well, I hope that McKenzie’s Mom knows that she has a beautiful loving daughter worth working hard for.  I hope she changes her ways to save her daughter from this life of drugs and destruction.  I hope my loss makes something click inside of her to make the changes she needs to make to have a beautiful life with her daughter. 

On Wednesday another brain tumor death.  Tuesday I had read about Elizabeth and now there was a 24-year-old young man who died from brain cancer too.

Richard arrived on Wednesday– We had a good time together.  He and I talked about teaching and planning.  We talked about where he wants to live.  He would love to live on Vashon Island on a few acres.  We looked at Yurts as temporary homes and sailboats too.  He has a triangle theory that is very cute.  Seattle, Lakewood and Vashon Island make pretty much an isosceles triangle.  Bee’s Mom lives in Seattle, Scott and I in Lakewood and if he and Bee lived on Vashon they would be equidistant from the parents.  Good idea.  Richard and I also went out looking at houses on Steilacoom Lake one day.  That was fun.  This was after spending hours looking at them on the Internet.  He and I love to draw house plans.  I always wanted to be an architect but never followed that dream. 

My birthday was Saturday (8/24).  I was going to have a party but then I didn’t feel like celebrating.  Too much stuff going on in my life so I cancelled it.  I had Richard, Scott and Bee here and still had Robyn come over.  I just didn’t feel like having a big gathering.  We went to the Maritime festival down on Docks street.  It was pretty cool.  Then Richard and Bee made this fabulous dinner of sushi, Mongolian Beef and Orange Chicken.  Bee made a chocolate cake with a hint of mint-flavored frosting.  Every thing was made from scratch.  Scott bought this little tiny cake with flowers on it that looked like they were glass or something but they were made of frosting.  We had a bondfire and then fireworks – our usual birthday deal.  It was a good day.

The 13 year old boy from camp just return home from Philly and it will take 2-3 weeks just to test to see if his t-cells are able will grow.  That is 2 to 3 weeks to see if they even have a chance of success.  The waiting is very difficult.  I know just waiting 5 or 6 days in Houston for our fine government to ok her treatment was so hard.  It seemed like forever.  When the clock is ticking every second counts.  In his case his brother will be going to school on Monday (8/26) for the school’s kick off while he will be off to the clinic for chemo.   The chemo is to keep the cancer down as much as possible while they wait. Wow, if our students only knew how lucky they were to be going off to school and not the hospital or clinic or across the country for testing or a clinical trial to save their life. His parents are taking them to Disneyland on Tuesday 8/27 which is today.  This is good and I hope he is cleared to go.  He should be.  It just seems that some kids get the cancer and it won’t leave them.  Battle after battle and they do it so bravely.  It’s hard to understand how the kids do this and why cancer just won’t leave some of them alone.

The night of my birthday I woke up around 2:15 to the neighbor’s dogs whining.  This is very unusual.  But in the morning I found out why they were so upset.  There were four raccoons in one of the tall shrubs that line the fence.  They were adorable.  But I am glad that they are now gone. 

Richard and Bee left for Bellingham and Seattle on (8/25).  Separate places for a week or so.  After they left I was chatting with my neighbor Jan.  She just returned from visiting with her parents in the mid-west.  Her Dad was just put on hospice for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  He is part of a study.  She thinks part of the study requires that they get to study his brain after he passes.  She is not for sure and is afraid to ask.  I told he she should find out.  I told her my only regret is not having Kathryn’s last tumor extracted and analyzed.  I feel it would have given them more insight to how the cancer changes from one type to another.  I wish someone had asked me.  I know that they didn’t want to ask a parent while in the process of losing a child but let’s be real, the only way to fight this beast to understand how it changes to resist the chemo.  Scientists can’t guess and it takes too long to go from one drug to the next in hopes that one might work. 

In Monday’s paper there were the headlines on the front page “Despite 2 brain surgeries. Ellie quick to smile, laugh”.  She is a 7-month-old child with a rarer form of brain cancer.  Upon first inspection they thought it was atipical teratoid rhabdiod tumor, which is found in 3 in a million children.  After a second opinion it was called even rarer type desmoplastic infantile ganglioglioma of which there have only been 60 known cases.  It is sitting next to brainstem – They want to wait for her to be older to do chemo.  I know that radiation isn’t used on children under 3 as a rule.  At least that was what it was years ago.  And chemo is just poison so using it on young children is something to avoid too.   Her older sister (4 years old) is afraid of her dying.  I’m sure Richard had these fears.   I will never forget entering our hotel in Houston after Scott and I went grocery shopping.  I could tell something was wrong.  Richard and Kathryn had looks of gloom on their faces.  I asked them what was wrong and they said nothings wrong but it was written all over their faces.  They must have been talking about Kathryn’s situation and they were both pretty upset but they didn’t want to upset me.  To this day I don’t know what the conversation was about that they had but I know it was upsetting to both of them.  I didn’t want to push and upset them anymore than they already were.  I would ask Richard now but he is not ready to share that with me.  He still isn’t ready to talk about his stuff.  I did ask him how he was doing with is feelings as we talked on the front porch about Scott’s grieving and needing to talk to someone.  I asked him if he needed to talk to someone and how it helped me.  He said he just stays busy.  That does help but talking is a good thing too.  Sharing how you feel about the situation that has been thrown at you does help.  Getting those feelings out helps heal.  It doesn’t bring Kathryn back.  It doesn’t allow us to hear her sweet voice or laugh at her silly ways but he does do something that eases it just a bit. 

I went to my Mom’s on Monday to just hang out with her.  I know now how important it is to a mother to have her children close.  How good it feels just to have them around and spending time with you.  We went to the senior center and played a game of bingo and had lunch.  Then we went for a walk and checked out some of the shops.  We went to the tour of Jesus Cross at the Catholic Church.  When we came back to her house we walked down to my brother’s and spent a couple of hours just chatting with him.  He really has a good sense of humor.  Always has and probably always will.  We picked blackberries on our way back to her house and filled a few containers.  It was a great day. 

So today is Tuesday 8/27 and it would have been my Mom and Dad’s 58 wedding Anniversary.  I asked Mom about it yesterday and she said she sure wished he were here.  They really loved each other.  She has been dating but I don’t think it is the same.  She says she doesn’t get bored.  That’s good.  But having my Dad around would be better.  I’m just glad she is still outgoing and able to do things. 

I also had my check up with my hip doctor this morning.  He and I laughed and laughed.  He is easy to talk to.  I had to ask questions about the gym because I will be going today and I have a new trainer.  My trainer (Rosie) moved to another gym in Puyallup.  I will miss her.  He gave me the ok to do just about anything but run and squats and lunges are to be eased into very slowly and probably never to the squats real deep and with a lot of weight.  Swimming would be better for the butt.  So I may become a fish or maybe a mermaid.  And when he said something about sky diving well I told him I was planning on doing that next summer.  He said I might be risking it a little.  I will have to check into the tandem deal and watch and make sure I get someone who can make nice smooth landings.  Skiing next year is ok.  Green and blue runs for starters.  Waterskiing is probably even more risky than snow skiing.  Running is still out forever.  But I’m ok with that.  Walking is just fine.  Biking is fine too.  But the pounding of the running is not ok.  So I will see him in nine months about the skydiving and other things.  Off to return some shoes, have lunch with a friend, then the gym and paint when I get home.

Scott has been working hard at getting sponsors or fundraising going for Camp Goodtimes.  He had a man from the track contact Richard about adding more the track day on October 19th.  So far the money that would normally go to the owner of the Turn2 and the owners of the track will be going to Camp.  There will be an auction and now they are also having guys sign up to get sponsors and raise money like you would a walk-a-thon or a Relay for Life.  Raising a certain amount would get you a t-shirt, more a track day and so on and so on.  If you raise $10,000 you would earn 10 free track days.  That’s a great incentive.  Well, this man did mention that they have a friend with an 8 or 9 year old daughter with cancer.  Everyone knows someone with cancer.  He said she had been looking for something to donate to and camp is the perfect thing for him.  He has two small children himself and couldn’t imagine what it would be like if one of them were to get cancer.  I hope he never has to have that reality and he can continue to donate and make kids with cancer happy.  Camp gives the cancer patient and their sibling a week childhood that has been striped from their lives.  It gives them people who understand their situation.  It gives them adults who have also been there.  Many of Camp Goodtimes volunteers are cancer survivors or siblings of someone who had cancer as a child.  So they really have been there.  I may not be a sibling or a survivor but I know childhood cancer just from a little different viewpoint.  

Scott’s efforts of getting the word out there are really paying off.  He talks to everyone about camp and how camp need financial support to keep it going since the ACS has dropped this support.  He isn’t afraid to approach people and in this case that is a very good thing.  If you would like to know more about Camp Goodtimes you can go to www.thegoodtimesproject.org to find out more about it.

It looks like a sunny day so get out there and soak up the sun while it is still here.  Love you all,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Thinking About Lots 8/20/13

Thinking About Lots 8/20/13

On Monday August 5th I was entering phone numbers into my new phone.  As I did this I came across Kathryn’s number and knowing that it was not her number any more I didn’t enter it.  This is just one of many things I have done that remind me that she is no longer here on this Earth.  There would not be that sweet little voice at that number any more. 

Tuesday I went swimming with my friend Robyn at her Aunt’s house.  She had recently given me a picture of Kathryn and I sharing a floaty in this same pool just a couple of years ago.  Kathryn and I shared a floaty many times.  When we would go camping we both loved to float in the water and soak up the sun.  This pool brings back many memories some as far back as junior high and some as recent as swimming with Kathryn.  This same day was night out for the neighborhood.  This is the national night out for neighbors to get together and get to know each other.  I was asked how many children I have and I really had a hard time answering.  One?  Two? One still alive and Kathryn who passed away.  I still struggle with this question.  Our neighborhood received an award for the most organized and best attended night out gathering.  Every year I think of the wonderful picture that was taken at the night out in 2010 of Kathryn and Matt.

Wednesday Mitch was in town to see us.  We call him S-2 for son two since he lived with us for a while and he just became part of the family.  He was also one of Kathryn’s roommates in college her second and third year.  We took the boat out for the first time and the boys went wakeboarding and Scott tried waterskiing.  We were on Steilacoom Lake and used Matt’s dock.  We waited for Matt to get off work to pull him around a bit too.  As I watched him I thought how great it would be for Kathryn to be here cheering him on.  She didn’t wakeboard but she took control of the flag which I did this time. Everyone seemed to have a good time.  It was great to see Scott in the water giving it a try.  After dinner we had a bondfire as this is kind of our camping trip for the year.  We talked about being in the ICU with Kathryn – explaining to Mitch the differences in the nurses and doctors.  How we fired one RT that scared Kathryn because she was rough and one nurse who never allowed us to sleep during the night.  Others nurses were so quiet you hardly noticed they were there.  One doctor did everything to get Kathryn home.  Only because of him were we able to get her home where she wanted to be.  We also talked about a boy from camp and how he relapsed again.  He was in Richard’s cabin and his parents had found out that he relapsed the Wednesday while he was at camp.  They didn’t tell him until he was home for a day.  They didn’t want to spoil the joy he was enjoying from his week at camp.  He is only 13 and he has had two bone marrow transplants and one stem cell transplant.  And a ton of chemo.  Now they are trying a T-Cell deal.  This is where they extract T-Cells from the patient and grow more in the lab to put them into the patient later.  This will increase the number of T-Cells in the body.  T-Cells are also known as natural killer cells that kill cancer cells.  This was the same thing my cousin’s husband was trying but he died before the cells had a chance to grow in the lab.  It takes 6 weeks or so for them to grow.  Anyhow I felt like Richard opened up a little during our discussion at the bondfire.  I was really happy about that.  As far as the young boy goes.  As of now his T-Cells are growing in the lab and I hope and pray that this works for him.

Friday night we had another chat about Kathryn and her friends.  We were talking about all of the numbers on the old phone Richard was using.  It is an old phone of Kathryn’s so it has numbers of her friends.  We Richard, Bee and myself talked about her friend Maura and how it must have been so hard for her to see Kathryn in the hospital.  She kept saying you poor dear.  She tried to keep a stiff upper lip and I know she had to work at it.  I imagine she broke down once she left the room.  We were really glad she came to see Kathryn even as hard as it must have been.  Kathryn was not letting people see her for a while and now I think it was to save them from seeing her in this position.  She never wanted her friends to feel sorry for her or suffer any pain.  We also talked about her friend’s Anna and Noah who have had a little birthday celebration for her each year.  I knew they made a cake for her each year but didn’t know they had a little celebration.  I think this is wonderful.

Saturday 8/10- A funeral and a wedding.  The funeral was for my Mom’s cousin.  I always thought he was a good guy but wow he was amazing.  So many people loved him.  He touched so many lives.  He changed so many lives for the better.  What an incredible man.  The wedding was in Seattle and for two people who have been volunteers at Camp Goodtimes. 

Sunday the dryer was going and we were all just hanging out.  The dryer had gone off and I went into the laundry room to find the door wide open like someone had opened it and gone through the clothes.  I asked if anyone had opened it knowing that no one had even been in the laundry room.  Both Scott and I said it was Kathryn just letting us know she was around.  Richard and Bee left for Seattle today.  Of course I will miss them.  Later Scott and I were just taking naps when the doorbell rang.  It was the man who built our house.  He had been going through stuff and found the plans to our house.  He thought about just tossing them but thought that we might like them.  So he brought them over to us.  He was glad to see that the house was appreciated and well taken care of.  We were happy that he made the effort to bring the plans to us.

Monday 8/12 Richard called to ask me to show his teardrop trailer that he has for sale.  I did and her friend and I were talking about Camp Goodtimes.  Of course Kathryn came up too.  She told me that her friend was down here at Children’s and staying at the Ronald McDonald house.  They are from Alaska and her 3 year old daughter has brain cancer.  I felt so bad for her friend.  I told her that Camp Flew 30 children down from Alaska this year.  It is all free for the families.  She said she would look into camp and tell her friend about it.

I finally went to see my friend Robyn’s paint job this week.  She painted her living room and hallway.  It looks really good.  She has a garden that she made for Kathryn and now it also has a section for her brother too.  She told me that the butterfly that illuminates is the one that comes on first and stays on the longest.  It is the one light that sits closest to Kathryn’s panda in the garden. 

I also read on FB that one of Kathryn’s friends was going through stuff and found letters that were from two people who are no longer alive.  Of course I asked if one of the letters was from Kathryn.  Yes she replied, actually she had a couple of letters from Kathryn and she said she would keep them and cherish them forever.  I had read some notes I had saved from Kathryn’s friends.  I could only read a couple because I didn’t want to cry all day.  They are so sweet and special.  I love reading them and knowing that my daughter brought so much joy to others.

I’ve been doing a lot of yard work this week.  I wasn’t able to earlier with my hip deal and then being gone for three weeks.  I had to do some catching up especially in the bank.  I always have a lot of time to think when doing yard work.  One thing that came to mind is how Kathryn would come out and ask me if I would like something to eat.  She would put together a platter of cheese, crackers and some cut up fruit and we would sit together and eat.  She would bring me the phone or water.  She knew it was hard to get up and down form the bank so she would help me out.  She took good care of me.

I also read that our dear friend is still having seizers.  I feel so bad for her.  I just hope they stop or get under control.  Also read an article about sugar.  Sugar is so tasty but so bad.  Cancer thrives on sugar too.  Please limit your sugar intake.  The article I read was how sugar has bad affects on your brain. 

There was also a video that I listened to on FB.  I shared it earlier.  This young lady was singing about a friend who died.  It made me think of Kathryn and this song could easily be about her.  It was very touching and made me think of Kathryn dancing and singing in heaven.

Friday 8/16 I went to the track with Scott.  I helped out with registration.  Our Friend Tom is the owner of Turn2 and was the one in charge of the track day.  He has October 19th as a fundraiser day at the track for Camp Goodtimes.  The owners of the track said they would let Tom have the track for free that day so all the money he charges with go to camp.  Well, there still are a few expenses like the corner workers, insurance and ambulance but the rest will go to camp.  This is a big deal!  They are also going to auction off things that day too.  Tom is a great guy and the track owners Joe and Rod are really doing a fantastic thing to offer the track for free.

Our neighbors above us had a birthday party this weekend.  Wow, did that ever bring back memories.  There were kids laughing and playing in the back yard.  Then they sang happy birthday and later watched a movie.  I don’t know if it went through the night but ours did.  At our parties the kids would play in the yard (slip and slide, the pool and hot tub), then we would have dinner, a back yard movie, and bondfire.  They would sleep over and in the morning I would make pancakes, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, hot chocolate, juice and milk.  By noon they were all gone.  I loved those days.  So it was good to hear the neighbors having so much fun just like our days.

I was talking to a lady on the phone about a vitamin supplement.  She was talking about cancer and I said I knew a lot about cancer and told her about Kathryn.  She too had lost a child.  Her 10 year old son was killed while gong to school.  She buried him on his 10th birthday.  She could connect and understand how I felt.  She said, others say they understand but they really don’t.  Only those who have lost a child really understand.  There are a lot of people who have lost their children.  One again I feel blessed to have had Kathryn in my life.  She had a wonderful life full of happiness and love.

Today (Tuesday 8/20) I read a name in the obituaries.  I recognized the name as one of my former students back when I taught at Mason in Tacoma.  That was 20 plus years ago.  This student had given me mug that she had etched.  I thought she had put her name on it so I went to the cupboard to see if this was truly her.  Well, the mug was from her sister.  Maybe they were both students of mine.  I remember them and the parents.  Mom was really involved in the community and I just remember them as a great family.  The obituary talked about her three year battle with brain cancer.  Well, I decided to cut this one out.  It is at least the 10th one I have read that has died of brain cancer since Kathryn’s passing.  Several have been under 40.  Now I wish I would have cut them all out and saved them.  There has to be a connection.  There must be something that can be found in common.  As I talked to my Mom this morning about this she reminded me about the neighbors in my area that have died or had brain impairments.  Yes, there have been a lot.  Too many rare diseases in one area!  Brain cancer is not that common, Lou Gehrig’s disease even more rare, seizers, stroke and other brain diseases in one 56 house neighborhood that has only been around since 1989.  Too Many!  I bet there are other neighborhoods in the Tacoma/Lakewood area with these too. 

Maybe some day I can help find the connection.  So far no one knows what causes the initial brain cancer Kathryn had.  Her second form was caused by her initial radiation but others get it for unknown reason’s.  Questions need to be asked and information gathered.  I think science is stuck on trying to fix cancer after it happens rather than finding the cause and stopping it from ever happening.  I know they have found some causes but it still strikes without reason.

I will be heading out to do more yard work.  I enjoy it and enjoy being in the sun. 

Have a great day!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hawaii/Camp/More 8-4-13

Hawaii/Camp/More 8-4-13

It’s been a long time since I wrote.  Before leaving for Hawaii I had to go out to school in the 1st of July.  While there the office manager and I had along visit.  Wow, I didn’t know about her brother.  A few years ago maybe 5 5to 10 her brother was diagnosed with brain cancer.  They had no time to digest this news as he was only given a few weeks.  In his early 40’s I believe and facing the end of his life.  It was news the family just couldn’t believe.  He did pass away in 3 weeks.  I couldn’t imagine having something like this happen so quickly.  With Kathryn we were given 3 to 6 months and after a week we found some hope.   Unfortunately it didn’t work fast enough.  But we were given at least a bit of time.  Even from the first diagnoses of April 17th 2010 we were told that it was not good and it was confirmed on the 27th of that month after surgery.  We knew we were facing death right in the face.  But we had time to seek help and give Kathryn more joy as she continued to live life to the fullest.

On the 2nd of July I saw the PA about my hip surgery.  She changed from no to yes on most of the things I could now do.  I was given permission to go in the calm waters of Hawaii and to stroll along the beach.  I also went to Walgreens that day and found the perfect wine glass that had “Simple Things” as I wrote about enjoying the simple things in life.  And as I left the store I found a penny but I said, “Kathryn this is so grimy and gross I don’t think I will pick it up.”  So the next day I found another penny.  Unbelievable!

The fourth of July was busy as we headed to the cabin to clean for renters.  We tried to make it to our friends in old town but it got so late we just stayed home.  We do a big firework show in our neighborhood and that was great.  Scott use to buy Kathryn that child’s pack of safe and sane fireworks.  You know the one with the tank, some sparklers, and the chicken that shoots sparks, the fountains and snakes.  She loved it!

We left for Hawaii on July 6th.  Scott, Richard, Bee, my Mom and I.  I got all of the photos in the album except one set before we left.  Now for the new ones.  We were picked up by Kris (Scott’s youngest brother’s wife) at the airport.  She had bought food for us for the morning so we wouldn’t have to go shopping.  Grandma June would always greet us with cold drinks and flowers for our hair.  We have a very thoughtful family.

Our first day there was Sunday and we had to go to the Outrigger Canoe Club (OCC) for brunch.  They have a fabulous brunch that we would enjoy with Scott’s Mom (June).  Kathryn loved to go to brunch at the OCC.  It was a great way to start off the vacation.

Richard did mention that our place was nice but it was so different without staying at Grandma June’s house.  We would have breakfast and coffee on the porch every morning.  We would jump in the pool whenever we felt like it.  We would forever be in our suits.  A short walk and we could enjoy the beach with calm waters.  It was different without Grandma and different without Kathryn.  Times change as life goes on.  I know Richard really felt the changes for him to mention it.  He is extremely sentimental.  After all he chased after our boat when he was 4 or 5 years old as the new owner drove away with it.

Honolulu is where Scott grew up.  We stayed in his Aunt and Uncle’s condo at the bottom of Diamondhead.  This is the place he really called home because he surfed there at Tongs.  I met some people who knew him and there was a gathering at a local park in his honor.  That was great that they pulled this little gathering together for him.

We did so many things but the one that brought me to tears was snorkeling at Hunauma Bay.  My Mom and I snorkeled together and viewed a ton of fish.  Richard and Bee were snorkeling buds and helped us find the easiest way into the water.  As we left for the day I started to tear up as I remembered Kathryn’s encouraging and caring voice the first time I ever snorkeled.  That was on our trip to Mexico in 2009.  I was always afraid to snorkel and the mask freaked me out.  But she encouraged me and watched me very closely as did Scott and Richard. 

One day Mom and I were out in the water in front of the condo swimming and we met this lady.  We were all just enjoying the sun and warm water.  As we talked we realized that there was a connection.  The night before we left Bee’s Mom had a book-signing event at her bookstore “The Secret Garden.”  This lady was there.  It was her brother in law, Dana Sullivan who was the author doing the book signing. 

Another place that really made me think of times past was the trip to the Salt Water Pool.  It is a huge concrete pool builds into the side of the hill along Black Point.  It is in a private community and you need to know someone to get in.  June’s long time friend Diane let us in.  She is the caretaker for the family who started IGA.  She was alone in the house as the man had passed away a while ago and the Mrs. was in the hospital for pancreatic cancer.  She passed just a few days later.  Anyhow, the last time we were there Kathryn was strong and healthy.  Well she appeared that way.  It was January 2011 and she had been received 35 rounds of radiation and was now on three types of drugs (two chemo’s) to fight her cancer.  She still looked great!  I have fabulous pictures from the salt-water pool from that trip.

Honolulu was great and we did so many things there in just a week.

Maui was our second stop.  That night we arrived we ventured off to Scott’s friend Russell’s 60th birthday party.  Russell is the one with Parkinson’s.  There were still a lot of people there when we arrived at 8:30.  It started at 4:00.  Russell seemed to enjoy himself.  We also saw Scott’s older brother Bruce at the party and made plans to spend some time with him.  The next day we went to Bruce’s house and then had him over for Bar-B-Que. 

We spent a great deal of our time with Scott’s older brother Bruce.  I gave Bruce two pictures from our trip over there in January of 2011.  We went for his Mom’s funeral at that time.  He had made Kathryn a hat out of palm fronds.  I had a picture of him with Kathryn and one with Kathryn wearing her hat.  He was very grateful.  He truly loved her.  Bruce bought property in the country along the Hanna Highway.  His property is filled with plants that bear fruit.  It was amazing.  Richard enjoyed learning about all of the plants.  Bruce gave him some starts to bring home.  I think everything he was given made it through customs.  We again spent time with Bruce as we all went to one of Scott’s high school friend’s house.  Her husband raises orchids.  It was fun to learn about the orchids and see all of the different varieties. 

Richard and I went snorkeling out in front of our condo.  We saw tons of fish and beautiful coral.  He and Bee went later and saw 3 turtles. 

One day by the pool Scott and I were talking to two men.  The one had just lost his Dad in April.  The other was staying in his Dad’s condo and was going to spread his Dad’s ashes the next day out in the ocean.  We all thought it was quite something that we should all have lost someone so significant in our lives so recently.  We talked about our losses and some how I think we all felt better after our chat.

The day before we left Bruce came over and took Richard spear fishing but the waves were too and water too murky to see well.  Richard and Bee did some last day snorkeling.  I didn’t go out, as I feared the waves were too big for my new hip.

It was a fabulous trip and we had now worries as our house and animals were well taken care of by our niece Janice.  However, when I went to get Scott a glass of ice water the ice machine didn’t work.  Something in the freezer had gone out and then I noticed that some of the boards in the hardwood were turned up a bit.  Oh my!  Threw out a lot of food too.  It must have only been out a day or so because many items were still cool.  At 11:00 pm that is not what you want to deal with. 

So the next day the 19th Richard, Bee and I all headed to Camp to volunteer at Camp Goodtimes.  It is a week long camp for kids with cancer and they get to take one sibling.  It is free for the families.  Poor Scott had to stay home and deal with the freezer and go up to the cabin to take care of a few things before our next renters came in. 

This was the first time I would spend an entire week at camp as a full time volunteer.  Last year I popped in to help in arts and crafts just about every day.  I helped with set up, registration, and clean up too.  But this time I went through staff training and the works.  I’m really glad I did.

Volunteers arrive on Friday afternoon and Campers arrive on Sunday at 2:00pm.  During our orientation I had a little brake down as we had to explain our connection to camp.  Sometimes I do just fine and other times I fall apart.  This was the latter of the two.  We had a memory circle and I didn’t say anything.  They were mainly remembering a boy who had past in the last year.  I’m sure people were waiting for me to say something but I didn’t want to start crying again.  I did write on a memory flag that hangs in the main part of camp by Grandpa Fred’s Heart. 

On Sunday when the campers arrived I helped with the water shoes.  The Durham family put together a mess bag-pack with a card and panda pin and a pair of water shoes for each child.  This was all in honor of Kathryn.  The card had one of her drawings as the cover and several pictures of her in it.  It told her story and how this project was done in her memory.

One of the nights the campers set Dream Boats sailing.  Each cabin wrote their hopes and dreams on the sail of their boat and in the evening the boats lit with candles were set sailing.  I quickly read a few.  Several had written notes to Panda (Kathryn) and so many were notes for their sibling’s health. 

During the course of camp I was called Panda twice, which I consider an honor.  I was also told about some girls who didn’t want to make lannies because it wasn’t the same because Panda wasn’t here.  But then I also heard that one said we should make lannies in her honor.   One of the middle age girl cabins were given beanie baby bears from one of the boy cabins.  One of the girls received a panda and she told me she named it Kathryn.  I gave her a hug and thanked her. 

One night a young man came up to me and told me how he admired my family and me.  This was his first year at camp and he was a fantastic volunteer.  He told me that Panda was so well liked and people still talk so highly of her.  He said he was amazed at how we handled her death and how inspirational she and we are to him.  He said that he didn’t even know her but she inspires him to do good.  We both were crying and hugging.  It was such a touching moment.  I appreciated hearing every word he shared with me.

Camp is an amazing place.  Cancer is put on the back burner and fun and laughter rises.  What I really noticed is how the kids care for each other.  Another camper or counselor always helps the ones who are visually impaired.  The kids really take care of each other.  It is such a lesson in compassion and understanding.

A friend of ours came out to see camp.  He is interested as the ACS has dropped its support of camp and will be funding more in the lines of research.  That means that camp will only exist with the funds that we raise as a group who love camp so much and know the impact it has on the lives of campers, families and staff.  Bee and I showed him and Scott around.  He will be having a track day that will donate funds to camp. 

The final night at camp gave me the biggest blessing of all.  After the dance and slide show Richard came up to me and gave me a big hug and kiss and said, “I Love You Mom.”  It ended the evening in the very best way.

The next day the campers went home and the staff finished packing up camp.  Richard complemented me on doing a great job at camp.  I was glad to hear him say this to me.  It means a lot.  The day ends with a circle in the main hall.  Everyone does shout outs.  It is great to hear how each person is recognized for their efforts.  I wanted to do a shout out for the sib shop that Richard and Bee put together but I didn’t think it was my place to do so.  Richard thanked everyone for their support of the sib shop and he became very choked up.  It means so much to him and Bee.  The two of them have really put their hearts into this and it shows.  They had another great response and made unique connections with kids. 

Then it was finally decided that the staff party would be at our house.  Everyone else went out for pizza as Richard, Bee and I headed to the house to set up.  Scott had the house clean and things looking good.  The party started around 9 or 10pm.  Scott had called all of the neighbors that may be disturbed and they loved it.  Even hearing us sing to “Love Shack” at 1 or 2 in the morning didn’t bother them.  I was sitting by the fire with a new staff member and she was saying how close knit the staff family was and that she found it hard to weave her way in.  I told her I found it hard too.  She said, but you are Panda’s Mom.  I am Panda’s Mom but I am not Panda.  I had to work a little bit during the week to feel like I belonged.  But I worked through those feelings and now I feel like I am one of the family.  I wasn’t going to mention this but during the party Matt and Daffy and I were in Kathryn’s room.  Matt mentioned how Kathryn loved Christmas.  There is one lonely snowflake left in her window.  I told him to tell Daffy what she had told him about not keeping Christmas up all year and how it had to come down to keep Christmas special.  He started to cry as he had so many special memories of her.  So many good and happy memories in her room.  I tired to comfort him and remind him that Kathryn would want him to be happy.  She always wanted every one around her to be happy and to love life as she did. 

After the staff party I had cleaning to do.  Thank goodness Scott had done a bunch already and so did Richard and Bee and probably others.  And then the depression set in.  I spend one day just lying around and feeling depressed.  I hate this but it was like I couldn’t move. 

I think it was Tuesday (7/29) night I woke to the distinct sound of one of our door handles moving.  It was like someone was opening a door or closing a door.  I got up to see if Princess (Kathryn’s dog) was up and scratching at a door handle.  No, there she was sound a sleep in her basket under our desk.  I can only think it was Kathryn.  This is one of the reasons I truly believe she is around.  Plus I think I would be more depressed if she wasn’t giving me strength and encouragement. 

Scott and I went to the cabin on Thursday and that broke part of the depression.  We hurried home to go to the Rainier’s game on Friday night.  It was an invite through an Electrical supply company.  We had a good time. 

Rebecca (Rowan’s Mom) had called on Friday.  We chatted fro a long time.  She said there is nothing we can say to each other to comfort each other but we both know and understand each other.  It is so true.  There is nothing that stops this pain but knowing you have someone you can call on at any time that will understand helps.  She apologized once for crying and I told her it was ok.  I reminded her I had told her she could call me and yell and scream if she needed to.  I would understand.  I have yelled and screamed and told God that I am pissed.  I have begged for Kathryn’s return.  I have even given God all of the reason’s he should return her and how we would make it all work.  How we would be able to prove he exists through Kathryn’s return.  We do, say and think the unimaginable when we are desperate.  I had been thinking very strongly about Rebecca and Chuck that day and she called.  I couldn’t believe it.  They are doing a little better and moving in a positive direction.  They have plans for the future, which I will share later.  I didn’t ask permission so I will hold it to myself.  But know that I am very happy and hopeful that the future turns out in their favor. 

My friend Robyn talked to me on Saturday.  In our talk she said she just didn’t know what to say (during Kathryn’s extreme illness) and she still doesn’t know what to say.  She didn’t want to say something wrong and hurt me.  She’s there for us and I know she will always be there.  She hurts too as Kathryn was a very special person to her.  It would be stupid of me to ever think that Scott, Richard and I are the only ones who grieve over the loss of Kathryn.  So many others miss her too.  She was very special. 

August 2nd 2013 marked one and a half years since Kathryn left us.  I can’t believe it has been that long.  It seems like yesterday she and I were in the whale pool in the front yard on a nice sunny day like today. 

Enjoy the sun!