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!