Thanksgiving: I went to my Mom’s house the day before Thanksgiving to help her with cleaning and getting dinner ready for 18 people. It was quite a task but we had a lot of fun doing it. The turkey was put in the oven at Midnight and done at 6:00 am Thanksgiving morning. Mom and I laughed all night and again early in the morning. I sure love her. I didn’t get much sleep and her cat didn’t help jumping on me all night long. I had a killer headache all day but I still wouldn’t trade the fun we had for a non-headache day. Thanksgiving was good.
So a day or two after Thanksgiving I went shopping for the family I adopted through Candlelighters. These are all families in need that also have a child with cancer. I had the same family in 2012 and 2013. That family lost their precious little boy (2 years old) to cancer in February of 2014. This year the family I had was also from my school. So I had 5 people to shop for. The staff at my school pitched in too. While I was shopping I was looking at this nice winter coat for the Mom. I tried on the coat and I still wasn’t sure if it would be the right size. So, I sized up another lady in the store and asked her if she would try on the coat for me. She was glad to help. I shared with her that I had adopted a family through Candlelighters and she knew about it. She said she worked for Multicare in as a Hospice nurse. I looked at her and I said, “You were my daughter’s nurse.” We never signed up for hospice but she was our palliative care nurse. Before I could say more she said, “Yes, Kathryn! We were just talking about her last week.” Wow, that was amazing. I couldn’t believe that it was “Kathy” the nurse who came to our house to help us deal with Kathryn’s very serious situation. She was great then and still a very wonderful person. We stood there in the store and talked for about an hour. She shared a couple of stories with me. I did remind her that she is the symbol of death to most people. She was for me. I also reminded her that I told her, “I am not going to talk to you any more about my daughter dying.” She said she remembered that. We both understood how I felt at the time. We had a very nice talk and I was so pleased to hear that she still thinks of Kathryn. Out of all of her patients she and her colleague still think of my daughter.
We have a friend (Wes) who was a teacher. He taught my two older brothers and myself. He was a regular customer of my Dad’s at the gas station. I also worked with him at Stadium High School. Now he is also a friend of Scotts through his used tire shop. Anyhow, Scott was at the tire shop and they were talking. Wes asked about how we are doing and such. He described me to Scott as one of those dolls that you can push over but it just keeps on standing back up. Some of you may remember, “Webbles wobble but they don’t fall down.” He said that I could be handed just about anything and deal with it. Nothing takes me down. I’m strong and I guess he is right. I have been handed a lot of bad stuff in my life and I just keep on going. Glad he noticed. I’m flattered that he thinks of me this way.
Klyde the cat continues to move the pillows from the living room to the spot where Princess (the dog) would sleep or eat. He has crawled into bed with us a few times now and even slept with us all night once. This is so out of character for him. He is not a loving cat. He does not like to be held of loved. But his losses are great! He lost his Mommy (Kathryn) and his sister (Princess).
Christmas decorating was done with many tears. A few times I pulled out an ornament and just broke into tears. The shoe tree did me in pretty good. Kathryn was just like me if not worse. She loved to have lots of shoes. I bought her a couple of ornaments that were tress with shoes hanging from them. It sounds weird but they are cute. And very fitting for Kathryn. She loved them. Scott really got into the outside lights this year. I really think he was doing it with Kathryn in mind. He did a great job with the lights.
I got a really strange email and it said it was from Kathryn Bradley and sent form her Iphone. Weird! That’s all I can say. I found this to be very weird.
Jeff (my principal) and I talked about his Mom and that she may be coming around. She had been very depressed since her son died. She stayed home and won’t go out. She actually asked this year about Christmas and where it would be and how she was going to go to Christmas. It did happen too! I was so happy to find out after the break that she did in fact celebrate Christmas with her family. Jeff and I also talked about spirits and how they are for real. He shared a really great story with me about a boy and his Dad. They were both in the hospital in separate rooms. I can’t remember but I think they were in an accident. They were both in very bad shape when all of a sudden the boy sat up and at that same moment the Dad passed away in the next room. It was like the boy saw his Dad’s spirit. I do believe we live with spirits all around us.
Shortly before Christmas I was shopping at the fabric store and I saw this Dad with his son. The son was definitely disabled in his mental capcity. He couldn’t speak and made strange movements. Dad had to direct him around the store. He was great! The Dad. The way he was calm and called his son buddy. The son must have been 16 or so. They patiently waited for the younger sister to get her fleece cut. She was going to make blankets for Christmas gifts. The son did his figiting and it didn’t even phase Dad. I left the fabric store and moved on the “World Market.” I was looking for wine stoppers but didn’t find any. I did find some other things. I thought I should look at the ornaments as I had bought one for Richard (my son), Katherine (his fiancé) and Kathryn but I hadn’t found one that was fitting for Scott. I looked and didn’t find a thing. But on my way out I walked by the ornaments again and there it was. It was a beautiful glass Panda. I didn’t see it there before. Now it jumped out at me. I really don’t think it was there before but it was put there for me to find the second time through. I couldn’t believe it! As I was checking out the cashier and I were talking about the Panda and I told her that Panda’s were special because of Kathryn. I told her about Kathryn and Camp Goodtimes. Then she told me about her 8-year-old son who wanted this same Panda but chose to buy the wooden one because it could break and he wanted his Panda to last forever. Then she told me about her other three children. One of them had severe seizers regularly. The other two had serious disabilities too. I should have made better notes so I could remember what they were. As I left the store and thought about her dealing with three children with disabilities every day and the Dad from the fabric store who had dreams of his son being an athlete or going fishing with him or working on cars with him and those dreams were crushed. I became very thankful. I was thankful that I had Kathryn for 21 years. I had a whole Kathryn that I could share my life with. I had the perfect daughter that I enjoyed so much. She was able to do everything and be the special person that she was. She experienced independence and life to the fullest. I was thankful that we had the best Mother Daughter relationship there could be. I’m sure both of these parents love their children and hold them dear. I was just thankful that my time with Kathryn was not complicated with disabilities. Twenty-one great years!
As Christmas drew close I started to feel the stress. I love having Christmas at my house but this year it hit me hard on Christmas Eve that my daughter was not here. I was trying to make pies and get things done and then I got a severe headache and neck pain. I couldn’t function. My kitchen was all torn apart and I was running out of time. I also had to be dressed and ready to head to Seattle for dinner by 4:15. All I could do was lay on the couch. I would try to get those darn pies done but I couldn’t. As I lay there on the couch I had a visit. It was a visit from Kathryn. It was so real. There she was in her skinny jeans, t-shirt and sweatshirt partially zipped and her pink beanie on. She was walking hand in hand with Jesus. They were walking down from heaven. They were laughing and smiling. She joined me here at the house. She and I lay across her bed and talked and laughed. We looked at the ceiling painted with animal clouds. We talked about how her friends had a good time figuring out what each animal the clouds were when they came to visit her. Then we decided we better go get her Dad (Scott). We ran down the hall to the master bedroom to inform Scott that she was here to visit. Now we had to decide how to tell Richard. We wanted him to see Kathryn but we didn’t know exactly how to tell him and we didn’t want him to drive the 2 plus hours from Bellingham so emotionally that he might get in an accident. My vision ended there.
It was really something. I really had a very peaceful feeling after that.
Richard and Katherine stopped by to drop off gifts on Christmas Eve. I pulled myself up to say hi to them and chat a bit. They told me the lay back down. I was also told I looked terrible. I looked like I had a bad hangover and then smoked some pot to feel better and I hadn’t taken a shower in a couple of days. I looked bad. Right after Richard and Katherine left I threw up too. I was not feeling good. Stress does this to me. Worry – sorrow or whatever it is. It is not the flu or anything like that. It is my emotions. I had my vision after Richard and Katherine left and I started to feel a bit better. I pulled myself together around 3:00. I finished those darn pies, cleaned the kitchen and jumped in the shower. I was ready to roll at 4:15. All the way to Seattle I talked to myself. I talked myself into feeling better. As the evening progressed I felt better and better. I think I was satisfied having my visit from Kathryn. The dinner went well and I had a great time. Katherine said I looked great! She couldn’t believe I looked so bad just a couple of hours ago.
When I woke up on Christmas day I felt fabulous! I must say it was that best I had felt in a long time. Richard and Katherine came down from Seattle in the morning to open gifts and help out. It was so relaxing and easy. The day was great! We had 14 for dinner. I made too many pies by the way. Everything was perfect. I forgot to mention that I found the perfect ornaments for Richard (a skier), Katherine (a wine glass with Cheers written on it) and one for Kathryn (a high heel shoe in sparkles of lime green and hot pink). It was a wonderful Christmas!
Dr Choa – This is the doctor I have been seeing for acupuncture. My hands have felt great every since I have been seeing him. After my visit I sat and talked with him and his daughter in the front waiting room for at least a half an hour. I told them about Kathryn. His grandson has a brain tumor or had one but he is not able to care for himself now. He said some times it is better for the person to just pass away. Well…. I’m sure some parents would definitely disagree with him but others may just think that the quality is more important than the quantity. That was something we thought about Kathryn. If she did come through this (which was highly unlikely) would she have her life back? What kind of life would it be? Such hard questions. I guess I have that to be thankful for too. I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t have to make any hard decisions. I had no control and everything happened as it did. My Dad never wanted to live like he did that last two years of his life. My husband always tells me not to let him live like that. He would rather die. I saw in the news that there is a 17-year-old girl who talks about quality of life versus quantity. But I can’t agree with her or her mother. She has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and she wants to skip chemotherapy. This type of cancer has an 85% survival rate. Why would a mother agree to no treatment? The state has intervened and is forcing treatment. Some day she may have a family and look back and thank the state for treating her cancer. This will be an interesting story to follow. The other girl who had the GBM I could understand her decision to take her own life. She was at a point of no return I’m afraid. I don’t know what I would do for myself. I know that I certainly didn’t and wouldn’t have turned my back on treatment for Kathryn. Especially at such a young age.
The Jehovah Witness ladies came to my house and we talked about creation. We also talked about how I fear Richard has turned his back on God. I can’t talk to him about it because he will just argue with me. But my Mom talked to him on Christmas and she did ok with him. I also shared with him some of my experiences with messages from Kathryn. I think he was a bit taken by my story of the butterfly in the yard. If you don’t remember here it is. I was going to go out and work in the yard this past summer. I was missing Kathryn more than usual so I asked her for a sign. I asked her to send me a butterfly. Have it flutter around me I said. As I worked in the yard there came a white little butterfly. It fluttered around me and hung out for a while. I giggled and said, “That’s not a real butterfly!” Send a Monarch or some other big colorful butterfly. A little later there it was. There was a huge orange and black butterfly fluttering right in my face. It was there as if to say, “Here you go Mom!” It stayed there awhile. Right by me the whole time. I laughed and I cried all at the same time. I was so excited I couldn’t hold back my tears of joy. This was truly an amazing day. I think Richard didn’t know what to think. I asked him if he has heard from Kathryn and he said no. I told him he just had to ask and she would send him a sign. I also told him he had to be open to hearing from her. I ask to hear from her all the time and I don’t always hear from her right away. Richard said that she maybe visiting other people when I don’t hear from her. I told him that I thought that was it too. I’m sure she visits other people and is very busy doing this. I hope she visits him. He needs to hear form her.
Last Friday (1/9) night I spent my evening at MaryBridge Hospital in Tacoma. I was down there visiting our friend Nick. This is his third battle with cancer. I had such a great evening with him and his Mom. We did arts and crafts and talked about Kathryn. He shared a sad time with me. A time shortly after he heard about Kathryn passing. It just hit him one day. He said all of a sudden he was there at school and just couldn’t stop crying. He went to his locker and packed up his stuff and just left school and headed home. He said he cried all night. He was so upset about the thought of Kathryn being gone. We also talked about Kathryn visiting spiritually. He was very careful to ask me first if he could ask questions about Kathryn. He didn’t want to upset me. I told him that I loved talking about Kathryn and if I should cry it is ok. We talked about a photo that both he and I were looking for. It was a photo of him and Kathryn at camp. I know the photo is here somewhere. But I have looked and looked and can’t find it. He asked me if I thought that Kathryn might have hidden it. Maybe she had a bad hair day or something and didn’t want it found. I didn’t think that was the case. But who knows. Maybe she did hide it. I should ask her again to help me find it. He asked me how I was doing and I said, “ok.” He said, “No you are not ok, you are amazing!” I love this kid. When he finishes this fight I hope that he never ever has to go through this again.
Did you hear the latest break through! Did you hear that they decided that most cancers are caused from bad luck? Yes, lung cancer and skin cancer have definite ways to lessen your chances of getting them but for other cancers it is just that the person has bad luck. Wow! Bad luck! I didn’t see any real reason for Kathryn to get cancer. She was never sick. She had a couple of ear infections and sniffles but nothing unusual or ever sick enough to miss school. So, she was handed a bad card. The one of bad luck. At least these findings tell me I didn’t do anything wrong as a parent. You do second-guess yourself when your child dies. You blame yourself for not being more attentive to the chemicals and stuff in this world. But I have known of people with the healthiest of lifestyles that should or we thought should keep cancer away only to get it and die from it. I think it is too complex to find a cause. Brian cancer is one of the biggest mysteries.
My neighbor started chemo on the 12th. She wanted to have a party before she started and felt icky. So we watched the football game with her and several other neighbors at their house on the 10th. It was a great afternoon. I’m really glad we went. It is so important to do these little things for people. We were going to watch the game anyhow and why not share the time with our neighbor, as she wanted? It really made her happy to have all of us there. I guess I should make them some lasagna soon.
Well, one of my colleagues came to me after school. He wanted to share something with me before he made it public. Yep, he has cancer. He has Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He is optimistic and we just talked for a while. I sure appreciated him coming to me first. His diagnoses was confirmed on Christmas Eve of all days. He started treatment on the 15th of January. He said, “They are going to fry me with chemo.” He is getting I think three types of chemo. An IV drip and some by pill. Being optimistic helps and having a family to live for helps too. He has two children in high school and a wonderful wife.
Planning on a celebration for Kathryn and Richard. It will be on the 7th of February. I’m thinking I should take the 6th off. It will be a breakfast dinner with just a few people. Richard will be 28 this year. Kathryn would have been 24. The 2nd will mark three years since she left us. I don’t think I will ever get over it. It will be good to have friends and family around. We didn’t last year and it nearly tore me apart. The 7th is the perfect date as it is right between Richard and Kathryn’s birthdays of the 9th and 5th. There might even be a big event that day. Rowan’s Mom, Rebecca is due with the twins. Rowan was 4 1/2 when she passed away of brain cancer on May 18th 2013. Her brother will be Roland and her sister will be named Wren. I can’t wait to meet them.
The boy I am doing homebound tutoring for will be having surgery in a week or two. They haven’t scheduled it yet. There isn’t a surgeon in Tacoma that could do the surgery so they will have to go to Seattle. Even there the surgeon said it would be a long and difficult surgery. It sounds like they will have a team of surgeons. He will be there for 5 days or more. The only good part is… Well, he may get to meet Russell Wilson of the Seahawks. I know that would really make him happy. His cancer has also spread from the pelvic bone to his leg as well. From what I understand they don’t really know what type of cancer it is. I was asked how do they know how to treat it. They chose a treatment to something that is close to what this might be and then hope it works. Scott said, “How could it be spreading if he is getting treatment?” I guess they didn’t choose the correct chemo. I really don’t know. I was asked if the spreading is bad. Well, it is never good when cancer spreads. But I can tell you that this boy has more drive right now and is positive and optimistic. He doesn’t seem worried. He is letting the doctors do what they need to do and he is trusting that they will do their best. And his smile would truly warm your heart. I’m privileged to be working with him.
So I’m ending here. I hope you have enjoyed reading my about my thoughts and experiences. I hope you all remember to do those little things for people. Time is the best thing to give. It is our most valuable asset.
Pray for Rebecca to have an easy delivery. Pray that Roland and Wren are healthy. Pray that the boy I tutor has a great team of surgeons with steady hands. And pray that my friend Nick is done with cancer forever and lives on to be a healthy adult. And finally pray for my neighbor and colleagues. Pray that this difficult time quickly becomes just a memory of the past as they take on a life free of cancer. Thank you for your love and concern for my friends.