Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Tough Days! 2-18-14 Super Bowl Sunday 2/2/14 was amazing. It really kept me distracted from the day it truly represents for us. It did mark 2 years since Kathryn passed away. It was a gorgeous day just like the day she passed. I really appreciate it being sunny on that day as it helps to sooth the mood. I was busy most of they day cleaning and preparing for Richard and Bee to come over and watch the game with us. The game was really something. We had a great time watching it but it was almost embarrassing to watch the other team get pounded. We are a family that likes good competition and there was very little competition in that game. Once it was over and Richard and Bee headed back to Bellingham, it hit. I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital. My head felt like it was going to blow up. I was so down and my body felt like it was going to fall apart. I thought I was going to get the way I have been two other times. The last time I went to the ER after 15 hours of extreme pain and no sleep. Luckily I have a husband that knows how to help. He said I needed to get out and walk. Get some fresh air and so we went for a walk and it helped. I had cried all morning and my eyes were sore and I was a little off but Richard and Bee helped me pull it together. But once they were gone my guard was let down and my body just gave in. Kathryn’s death hit me hard this year. I also gained about 7 pounds because of emotions. Hopefully I can shed it and some before summer. Tuesday the 4th was a trip up to Seattle for a camp-planning meeting. It is always fun to be with our camp family. This summer is our first summer without the support of the American Cancer society so even finding a place to have meetings can be a challenge. Wednesday the 5th was Kathryn’s 23rd birthday. It pleases me so when people remember her. Whether it is on the 2nd or for her birthday the 5th it doesn’t matter. I just love it when people acknowledge that she once lived her on this Earth and brought love and joy to everyone. This year we didn’t do anything but remember her for her birthday. Our kitchen was wrapped in plastic for the most part as our cabinets were getting done. My neighbor brought flowers and a card. My good friend Robyn made a beautiful Panda picture. People sent good wishes. I appreciate all comments and wishes. Rowan’s Mom Rebecca sent me a necklace of angel wings. It arrived right on Kathryn’s birthday. On Wednesday (Kathryn’s birthday) my students in my yearbook class asked me if I believed in spirits. I told them I did and how we know Kathryn has been around. The blender going off, finding things after asking Kathryn for help and then my neighbors having a ghost in their house. A little girl, Kathryn’s size and hair color that appeared just days after Kathryn died. It was an interesting conversation. Wednesday night we had a grapevine event. This is an evening that is used to give potential donors for the wine auction a chance to get acquainted with camp. We have snacks, wine and beer, there is a speaker, which I have done in the past, and just a chance for them to met us and get to hear our story and what camp means to us. I met Louise at the grapevine. She was in the Air Force and her Husband is retired from the Air Force. I think he was high up in rank. Anyhow they lost their 25 year old daughter to brain cancer. That was years ago but as she spoke you could see in her eyes and hear in her voice that is was just like yesterday to her. I could see that it won’t ever stop. The pain of losing a child never goes away. At the grapevine event I also made sure I thanked the two board members that were there. They are two of the people who said, “Well if the ACS isn’t going to sponsor or support camp for these kids with cancer any more we need to get going and do something to make sure it keeps going.” They did! They put together the paper work to get a project together that has 501-C3 status (nonprofit) so we could start fundraising. They named it “The Goodtimes Project.” They couldn’t call it Camp Goodtimes at the time because we didn’t have clearance from the ACS yet. To this date we still don’t have the money from the ACS that was designated for Camp Goodtimes. Thank goodness we started fundraising immediately because we wouldn’t have camp this summer 2014 without the funds we have been raising. Any how I thank Bacon and Puck for their efforts. While talking to Puck she shared that her sister just passed away 1 ½ years ago from cancer. Wow! She deals with this all the time since she is a nurse in the oncology department at Children’s. She is an amazing woman. She gives her vacation time to volunteer at camp to work once again with her patients. I’m sure it is also rewarding for her to see her patients having fun at camp. I was so glad I made the effort to talk to Puck and Bacon. They were both so appreciative that I came up and thank them for their time and effort to keep camp going. Puck said that camp gives her a mission in life as it has for Scott and myself. She said, you need something to focus on and to keep you going. She is right. Having Camp has helped our entire family. Scott, Richard and myself have all reaped the benefits of camp. Being volunteers have given us all purpose and a special way to honor Kathryn. The kitchen is getting done. When they offered this week (Feb 3rd through the 7th) for us and a 15% discount; I really had to think about it. I didn’t want to have the kitchen out of commission as we usually would have a party for Kathryn but we did it. It all worked out. They didn’t finish until Saturday and actually still have a couple of things to do. But for the most part it is done and looks great!!!! Ziggy, a young lady from camp that was a good friend of Kathryn wrote to me this week. She is writing a book about cancer and wants to include a part about Kathryn. She loved Kathryn and was inspired by her strength and consideration for others. She had heard that Kathryn had relapsed and asked Kathryn about it while at camp in July of 2011. Kathryn told her that she had relapsed but didn’t want to talk it about it because she was here (at camp) for the kids and wanted to make it their best camp ever. Ziggy wanted to make sure it was ok with our family to mention Kathryn in the book. I told her since her book was to help young people with cancer I think Kathryn would be happy to be part of the book. She would want to give others hope and peace in their time of need. This will be a book that I will read. Some of you will understand that comment. Cancer strikes our friend Nick for the 3rd time. This young man is turning 17 in April. He was just re-diagnosed with Leukemia. He started with a brain tumor and his treatment gave him Leukemia. At that time he could not have any more radiation and chemo is not considered affective. He had a bone marrow transplant and it was successful. Well, for almost 6 years. Just when you think you are out of the woods this beast comes back. It appears to be the same type of Leukemia (it’s sad that I can now spell that word) but in only on chromosome instead of two. I’m not sure what that means but I think it is better than two. I don’t know what treatment they will seek out but radiation and chemo are not in the picture. They will use chemo but knowing it will not cure him. Our little friend Colton is doing well on the T-Cell treatment. Remember he went to Philly and received his T-Cells around Thanksgiving or Christmas. So far so good! Yeah! There is also another little girl who received this same type of treatment who is also doing well. So I suggested to Nick’s Mom to ask about this treatment for Nick. You get low on options after a while. The T-Cell treatment is very new and there are only a few children to have ever received this treatment. They have only used it for Leukemia and only in the past year or so. Maybe it is the one! Nick is the little boy Kathryn told us about from camp. He had a crush on her and brought her flowers and asked her to the dance her third year there. We became friends from camp. The other day one of the men on the wine auction committee made a comment about camp. He had been taking photos at Children’s in the oncology department. One of the girls has been to camp and the other has not. The one was sharing her joys of camp and they were planning what week they would both go. He shared some other stories too. When I was at the camp planning meeting Beef (the director) said that February is like Wednesday at camp. Wednesday is the half way mark where some people are burned out and need a break but still looking forward to each day. Oh, I remember February like this: Christmas is over; Birthdays are over so now we focus on camp. We need to make sure we get our applications in so we don’t miss out. We think and talk about camp and our friends at camp until that day we get on the ferry. Richard and Kathryn would start thinking about songs and skits and when old enough what position they would have at camp. Every year it was the same. Once birthdays were over talk of Camp would begin! Camp is big for these kids. They talk about it all year long. They call each other to see what week they are going. They get excited to see their camp friends who they may not have seen in a year. Camp is a family and it creates bonds that last a lifetime. There is a new man involved with camp this year. It is kind of funny how he came in too. He was inquiring about a job and accidently sent his message back about not taking the job on the wrong email address. Well, That email address got the attention of one of the wine auction committee members and asked him if he would like to see what camp and the wine auction are all about. Well, George said he would like to check it out and is now onboard. He gets it! He understands the bond that is formed by these kids. He understands the family and the commitment that is there. He is going to volunteer at camp too. The 9th was Richard’s birthday. Of course I thought about how I would make cakes for Richard and Kathryn. For the family birthday party I always make a cake that was half Richard and half Kathryn. The last one I made was for their 20th and 24th birthday. I took the cake to Bellingham. We had a small little family birthday there. This year we went to my Mom’s house in Eatonville. Richard and Bee were at the cabin in Packwood so it was nice to have us all meet at my Mom’s. My brother Mike was there and my brother Pat and his wife Gin. Bee’s Mom and Grandma even drove down from Seattle. The kid is special. It was a nice little gathering and I think Richard appreciated it. It’s nice to be acknowledged on your birthday. I know I am very happy that little guy arrived on that Monday morning. The 10th was my principal’s brother’s birthday. He lost his brother in October. I knew it was a hard day for him. There isn’t much you can do but let someone know that you are thinking about them. I really worry about his Mom. That had to be a very hard day for her. I feel really bad because they have really been pounded. I mean just one special day after another. Wedding anniversary, Thankgiving, Christmas, Birthday and they all came in a very short period of time. Father’s day will be tough for the kids. I remember after my Dad died it was a day that just seemed so hard to even think about. It’s not special when your Dad isn’t there anymore. What is Father’s day without a Dad? I know my Mom is having a hard time with being alone. She really misses my Dad. He was a good man that loved her so much. They did so much together even if it was just sitting around having coffee. It is hard to lose a loved on and special days are hard to face. Hell the whole month of February has been difficult for me. Maybe we should have had a birthday party for Kathryn. Maybe that is what’s missing. I don’t know but this year is tough. On the 14th I donated blood. I was reading the poster on the wall and found more interesting things about blood donations. First, only 35% of the population can donate blood but only 5% of them actually donate. Did you know that a pint of blood only has 2 ounces of platelets in it? That may only be one ounce I can’t remember for sure. That’s not a lot. I remember Kathryn getting two bags of platelets at one time. It had to take a lot to get two bags. The platelets help your blood clot. Any how they draw blood from people and spin out the platelets, put the blood back in and draw more blood and spin out more platelets and continue this process until they have a bag full which takes an hour or two. I thought we were so lucky to have people that are willing to donate. I remember when Scott’s Dad was really sick we had friends and family go to the hospital and donate platelets because he needed so much. His leukemia seemed to just suck up the platelets as fast as they were given. On the 15th I went to a cross fit session that was a benefit for camp. We sold $265 in Panda shirts that day. That made me feel really good! It was cold but a lot of fun. Camp events just bring so many good people and you just can’t help but feel good about life and others when you attend these events. Speaking of camp events, we are having a benefit on August 16th at our house for camp. We will be selling tickets for $50. Of course there will be things to buy the day of the event, donations can be made and you will also be able to win prizes during the raffle. We will have food, drinks and live music! It will be a fabulous event. Today, the 18th of February I am getting Richard’s graduation announcements ready to send out. It’s funny how life is. I received in the mail a week or so ago, information for graduation announcements for Kathryn. It didn’t hurt. It actually made me smile. How great it would have been to have both of them graduating in March from the school I graduated from in December of 1982. I would have been so proud to watch both of them probably arm in arm walk down that isle together. I know they would have worked it out that they would have walked together. Just the same I am so proud of Richard. I always knew he was a good boy and smart as all get out but I didn’t really know if he would go to college or not. He has made us very proud and I know he is an amazing teacher. He loves others and has the compassion and understanding that it takes for this job. He will do well and inspire some young people to make positive changes in their lives. I also watched the news last night and they featured a boy from Puyallup who is dying from a brain tumor. They are having a special graduation for him next month since he will probably not make it to the regular graduation. He may be too ill by then or not around. He only has three months to live. But he has a good attitude. He said he is not mad because you are not guaranteed tomorrow. He said that God has him now. I think it is great that the school is doing this graduation for him. It is kind of like Kathryn’s Christmas party. It is a great way to say good-bye in a happy time. A time where the person dying can enjoy your company and is feeling well enough to enjoy the time themselves. Everyone should have a send off like this. I hope we all remember that tomorrow is not promised to us and we can look at today as a gift to cherish. Love you all, Carol
Sunday, February 2, 2014
The 2nd Anniversary of Kathryn’s Passing I have new students for my publications class this semester. They are all 8th graders and none of them are in any of my math classes so they don’t know me at all. One little girl and I were talking after school about how the use the camera and taking pictures that evening at the high school. She noticed my pictures on the wall and asked if I do Relay for Life. I told her that I did it for years. And then she said she does it here in Fife. Something was said and I told her that Kathryn had passed away two years ago. Then she looked at me again and asked, “Did you speak at the first Fife Relay? Did you speak during the Luminaria Ceremony?” I said, that I was the one. She told me that I was a great public speaker and that she cried as I spoke. She was amazed that I was the one that she heard that night. Yep, I did speak and I will do more as life goes on I’m sure. I remember telling Kathryn one time that she was hope for others and she was there inspiration. I told her that when people with cancer saw her and her beautiful smile she gave them hope and encouragement. She said, “I know Mom.” That is why she did everything she could to face her cancer with a smile and be so brave. She knew others were watching and she knew she needed to give them hope and encouragement. She did just that. The other patients in the radiation waiting room told me that her smile and cheerful attitude helped them realize that they could do this. Still funny to this day, Kathryn felt the same about them. She noticed all of the “Old People” (little old ladies and little old men) and she said if they could do it so can I. We never know the affect we have on others. Last night was the eve of Kathryn’s passing and weird things were going on. We were watching TV and an orb appeared on the screen. A yellowish green orb that was reflecting like a glass prism. Then the show went off for a moment and back on. We were watching it through Netflex. It did this about three times. Not all the same but it stopped and reloaded one time. The first time it happened I told Scott to stop touching the button. The remote was across the room. We both decided Kathryn was here. I didn’t say this to Scott last night but I could smell her. He said he could feel her presence. She was here! We were watching the last three episodes of Dexter. When his sister Debra was put on the breathing machine it brought back memories and really made me think. I thought about how Kathryn was on the breathing machine and then how they took her off. When they took her off she immediately sat up and held her throat while turning purple and blue and said, “I can’t breathe.” They immediately bagged her and re-inserted the tube. She wasn’t able to breathe on her own. The tumor had grown and stopped her ability to make air come in and out. Then I thought, how could that have ever improved so that she could come home. I would imagine that once a tumor does this there is no returning. But Kathryn was taken off of the breathing machine and able to come home. Was this a small miracle created for her and us so she could come home? Was this God’s way of letting us share one last Christmas together. It must have been some kind of small miracle because they only talked about her being on that breathing machine forever. Then finally we had a Doctor who realized that we should try letting her breath on her own. She did have a trac put in. Why not? She is in the safest place she could be. She was monitored in several ways. If anything went wrong they would be there in a second. We already witnessed how fast they move in the ICU and with definite moments that are so right on and perfect. The fact is that they worked on getting her home. They worked on getting enough information that would say she would be safe to go home without a breathing machine. As an adult they would not send her home on a breathing machine. She would have been sent to some care facility, not home. I have never thought about how it all had to play out to get her home. We were lucky to have her come home. I know she didn’t like hospitals at all. Scott and I had always promised her (since she was 8) that we would never put her in the hospital unless it was absolutely necessary. In Houston we left the hospital at 11pm and even 2 am after her transfusions were done. She didn’t want to stay there and we told the nurses that we were not going to stay. Last night was a difficult night. I had a hard time getting to sleep. I cried and watched TV until my eyes were so sore and heavy I had to close them. I was just awake enough to turn the TV off and then I was out. All I could think about was two years ago I was laying next to Kathryn and I knew it was coming. I told her that if Jesus came to take her tonight, please tell him you don’t want to go. This morning I woke about the time that I realized that something was going on with Kathryn. The sign was her blood pressure. I had watched go up ever morning starting about 5am. This morning it wasn’t going up. I knew something was changing. There was either going to be a miracle and she was going to be getting better or she was slowing down and the end was soon. I lay there for a bit with her just hoping it was the better of the two. And then her oxygen got low. I called Richard in as he was just across the hall. We talked about the situation and cleared her airway with the suction machine. It helped a little. We both knew this was it. He said he would not bag her and I agreed. This made me think of our friend who told me in love not to try to save her but to let her die in peace and with dignity. Don’t’ put her through a bunch of stuff for yourself. And so, here it was that time. I had Richard get Scott and Grandma. It is 7:55 right now as I write and we were all with her at this time. She took her last little breath at about 8:17. She was amazing! She was beautiful inside and out. I was the luckiest Mom ever to have such a wonderful daughter. She made me proud! Speaking of proud. Richard makes me so proud. I was telling my students about his different hairstyles he has had and one student said in jest “You must be so proud of him.” I said, I am proud of him. He is a wonderful young man. Friday (1/31/14) Richard had a student in his class have a severe asthma attack. He was walking the kid to the nurse and he went down because he couldn’t breath. Richard knew exactly what to do. He got 911 and the boy was fine. Someone said that the boy had a seizer and Richard was quick to give the correct information. He didn’t have a seizer. They asked how he was so certain. He said his sister had brain cancer and had a seizer and he was there throughout all of it. Nobody knew about Kathryn expect the teacher he had done his student teaching under. They were probably really taken back. But he had the experience to handle this situation. I am proud of him. He is an amazing young man. He and Bee will be here this afternoon to watch the Super Bowl with us. I’m so glad they are coming over. This day is just too hard to do without being surrounded by loved ones. It never gets easier. The pain spreads out more but the loss and pain are still there. I fear that people even myself will forget Kathryn. I never want that to happen. I want her to live in our hearts forever. Hugs those around you and tell them you love them. Go Hawks!