3 Years without Kathryn
January 22nd – remembering Christmas on this date three years ago. This would be Kathryn’s last Christmas. I can still see the smile on her face as she opened her gifts. I miss that smile so much. I brought this up because today (January 22, 2015) Scott and I just packed up the last box of Christmas. It is hard to think about her as gone.
I was at my student’s house the other day and the Home Health nurse came over to change his dressing about his hickman line and flush it. We talked as she worked. She knows Kathy the nurse that helped us with Kathryn.
My friend Julyn had a send off party for her daughter. Not like the one we had for Kathryn. Her send off party was forever. They are Mormon and her daughter will be gone for 18 months on her mission. She will be in Spain. We were at her house and one of my former students was there. We talked for a while and he seems to be doing great!. His Mom came over and talked to me and asked about Kathryn. She said something about it getting easier. I said that they say it gets easier but I think it is actually getting harder. I am off of the couch and functioning but it is hard. She asked me if I went right back to work or how that all went. I said I stayed home for the rest of the year. It would not have been good for me or the kids for me to be at school. I was pretty bitter and mad. I think one ungrateful kid would have sent me over the edge at that point. I shared my butterfly story with her. We also talked about spirits for a while. I just wish Kathryn was on a mission and would be coming home soon. I still pray for God to have her visit. The Christmas eve vision was a good one but I would give anything to hold her again.
My student is having his surgery on the 2nd of February. It will be a day that I don’t forget. I was very concerned about who would be doing the surgery and what they might do. I don’t want him to lose his leg. I sent a message to a friend from camp who told me last summer that he only has his legs because this second doctor saved them. His oncologist we going to have them amputated and this other doctor said he could save them. I got hold of this doctor and found out that he is indirectly involved with my student. I was so happy. They assured me that the same doctor my friend had was in the loop and helping with the decisions. I’m relieved. Well, this all changed on my way to work in the morning of Jan 27th. My friends doctor called me and said he would like to see my student and that he had an opening at 1:00. I called the family and they were more than happy to meet with this doctor. His name is Dr. Conrad. Dr. Conrad asked if I could be there too. After a bit of work I found a way to get my last two classes covered and I met up with the family and Dr. Conrad at Children’s in Seattle. I’m so glad I was there. Dr. Conrad offered to take my student as his patient and they agreed. He has done well over a 100 of these surgeries and the other doctor had done two as a student and none on her own. I know doctors have to learn and eventually do a surgery on their own but I don’t want a new doctor practicing on my child or my student. Sorry, but I know that experience can make all the difference in the world. As we talked to doctor Conrad I brought up my friend from camp. He said he was an extreme case and he had to fight with 30 different doctors who all want to amputate both of his legs. My friend walks on those legs!!! You see the experience in this doctor made a huge difference. The surgery will not be on the 2nd but some time after that.
I also got some bad news over the weekend. My friend Nick who I recently did Arts and Crafts with in the hospital has relapsed again. He now has full blown AML. He can’t have another bone marrow transplant as he has had two already. His cancer has become resistant to chemo. But Dr. Thomas has been researching and working on a new treatment plan. I was talking to Mom as they were waiting for the doctor to come in. Nick wants to have a big party with all of his friends. Sounds like Kathryn. She just wanted to have a big party and enjoy her friends. Kids are amazing aren’t they? I’m hopeful that Dr. Thomas will find the right mix of treatments for Nick. He is a brilliant man. I have had the pleasure of working with him a couple of times. He knows his stuff.
Wine tasting with my junior/high school friends. What an evening. The wine tasting was something I won at the Wine Auction last year for Camp Goodtimes. The host was Rob the owner of Finn Hill Winery. He as a fantastic host and we all had such a good time. I couldn’t believe how the time flew. I didn’t get home until 1 am. I haven’t stayed out that late for years.
Some good news too. Another boy from camp Colton is now in remission. He has also been fighting cancer for years. He has relapsed three or four times. He has had bone marrow transplants, chemo, and t-cell treatments. Hopefully this will last.
But, then on the same day as we celebrate Colton’s remission, one of our camp kids Katie Elliott passes away. Katie had gone through so much. Her body was full of rods and screws to hold her together. The cancer ate at her bones. The pain of bone cancer is horrific but she had a beautiful way about her. She smiled and laughed and enjoyed life. When I see the photos of her from camp I know that Scott and I have chosen to support a place that allows kids like Katie to enjoy the life that they are living for the moment. It gives them a place where they can have love, joy, fun and a time to throw cancer to the side line. Even if life is cut short, Camp is a place that can help these kids get every bit of happiness they possibly can get out of it. Camp Goodtimes is not just a week long. There are connections made that go on throughout the year. The Goodtimes Project is committed to extending this connections more and more as it grows. Families like Katie’s need the support beyond camp as does every family that battles pediatric cancer. There are no words that can take away the fear and uncertainty that cancer brings to a family. But there can be support through actions, words and love.
One of my students asked me if I was a Seahawk fan. I said, “Sure, they are our home team.” He inquired a bit more as to why I would like the Seahawks. I told him I liked what they do. He said, “You mean at Seattle Children’s?” I said, “Yes.” I love what Russell Wilson does for the kids at Children’s. The smiles that he brings is priceless. I don’t know if he truly realizes how mush his visits mean to these families and how it helps the healing process. I’m just glad he has chosen to act. To take part in something so meaningful. To show others that a little kindness goes a very long way. I’m hoping my student will get to meet him too.
The day is drawing near. The third anniversary of Kathryn’s death. I will never forget that day. The vision is so clear. The last breath still heard. I miss her laugh, her smile, her hugs, and her sweet little voice. I miss her innocents. I miss shopping with her. I miss watching movies with her. I miss decorating with her. I miss planning parties with her. I miss having her in my life. No, it doesn’t get easier. No, time does NOT heal this pain. No, nothing will replace what I had with her. My heart is broken forever. There is a hole in my life that will never be filled. This empty space that is dark and lonely. I long for her.
The 2nd of February came and I was at work as I should be. Distracting my mind as best as I can. But then just before 1st period was to begin I received a text message and I read it. It was from a friend remembering Kathryn as I love people to do. The tears streamed down my face. I couldn’t hold it back. There were many kids in the room and one of them caught a glance of my tears. I tried to hide them as quickly as I could. Then as I went on with the day I just made some big mistakes. Adding and subtracting and the algebra that I can do so easily I fumbled. I apologized to my students and quickly made the statement that it was the 3rd anniversary of my daughter’s death. The looks on their sweet faces showed they cared but didn’t know what to say. I sucked it up and went on. I was able to get past all of this and finish out with out more mistakes.
February 5th was Kathryn’s 24th birthday. She would have been working by now as a child life specialist at Children’s or Mary Bridge. She is probably there in spirit helping those kids through the tough times.
Pablo is moving along with treatment. His Pet scan came out the way they wanted showing the tumor was more than 50% dead. However he will get three days of chemo in the hospital the 6th, 7th and 8th. He came home late in the afternoon or early evening on the 9th.
Saturday the 7th we had a fun filled evening to remember Kathryn and celebrate Richard’s 28th birthday. I can’t believe my little boy is so grown up and such a wonderful man. His beautiful fiancee surprised him on Monday the 2nd with tequila sunrises and graham crackers with fun-fetti frosting in honor of Kathryn. She is a wonderful woman and treats Richard so well. We are blessed to have her in our family. I guess I was a little stressed and dropped things and cut my finger. But the evening was great. I love seeing Kathryn’s friends. Some of the girls were up in her room with my Mom. We could hear their laughter downstairs. It was great to hear laughter coming from her room as it always did when she was here with us. We had fireworks late into the evening and even fired off the cannon. Then we sent sky lanterns up into the air. They are like mini hot-air balloons. We went out 6 of them. It was so cool. I know Kathryn would have enjoyed this. All in all it was a great weekend.
A few days later I received something in the mail for Kathryn. It was from a graduation company. There was the invite to attend her graduation with the Western Washington University design on the front. I thought about saving it but then I thought why? It’s kind of strange that this should come in the mail just after I noticed that Kathryn had put in her profile on her facebook page that she graduated from Western. She was certainly optimistic.
Yesterday 2/12/15 my new Principal at my school saw me and he said, “Wait here I have something for you.” He ran into his office and reached into his bag. Then he handed me a package of Gummy Pandas. I was really surprised and so pleased that he would think of me and remember Kathryn. These are the little things in life that bring more joy than people will ever know.
Just today I received a notice from a young lady that knew Kathryn in elementary school and lost connection when she moved in middle school. But then a friend of hers met Kathryn on he trip to Europe with People to People. Such a lovely piece that she wrote. I thank all of you who remember and cherish your memories of Kathryn. I thank all of you who share with me. I love hearing from you and would love to have coffee with anyone who loved my dear sweet girl.
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day and share this love everyday throughout the year as it should be.
Love you all,