One of the biggest fears as I mourn my daughter’s death, besides the fact that I will never be able to wrap my arms around her, or take her tiny, soft, and precious hands in mine, is what others think of my healing process after her death. It’s true… This is my life: Get out of bed. Not cry noticeably. Smile and feign happiness for my other children. Focus on my job, because you know… that pays the bills. Try not to share her story with every passing person I meet, unsolicited. Take any and every opportunity at the last minute to get out, and forget this existence, then rush back home because of anxiety, and veg. Try to get through the day, to go to bed, and get up the next day, and repeat it again. That’s what I can do, and anything that requires more than that, is a crap shoot. And let’s say, on the off chance that you are ever on the receiving end of that crap shoot, that you’ve wandered away from our friendship, or stepped aside because you “just can’t”, or feel I’m unapproachable, then I am regretful that you gave up. It’s not you, it truly is me, but if I told you that I was sorry, I am being untruthful. Because you can’t be sorry for things you cannot control. I am technically sorry, but not for the reasons you think. I’m sorry that I can’t be the old me, that’s all a foggy blur now. I’m sorry that I can’t be a new me, post child loss. I’m sorry that I can’t be any me that would satisfy what you’d expect of me. I can’t be the me that was, or the me that fought for my daughter’s life, or the me directly after she died, or the me from even on hour ago. It’s like my emotions are playing hopscotch with my thoughts, and I just can’t get my rock into the “friend” square… So yes, I’m sorry for that, and that only. Not because of my mourning process, but because your expectations of my mourning process are lost on what we once were as friends. And some people have failed to see their reservations towards me in that same manner that I have given towards them, so there’s that to ponder… But I’d like to think that’s I’ve been through enough to deserve the effort, but maybe others would disagree. Either way, I’ve lost everyone, in some way or another. Some have stayed, and pushed through with me, and understand this journey, or want to, or pretend to really well just for me, and that works too. And hopefully they will remain for years to come, because I’m a year out, and I feel like she just died yesterday, so… it’s going to be a while.
So, for those of you that can hang with me during the impassive yet emotional evolution I’m currently struggling through, I can’t promise you shit, but I can promise to try, and that’s going to have to be enough. And besides, I bring good dip to the parties, so… it might be wise to keep inviting me, becuase one day I might just show up with it! 🙂
Love and Kisses, See You Next Time…
I sit here with my hands in my lap and no costume to decorate. No sale to try and catch. No frustration over not finding an item. Or rush to celebrate. Nothing. I’ve been cut off at the knees, as my child was ripped from us, with only a whisper of her name still literally coming out of my mouth. I could almost touch her… and hear her breathe still. But she’s gone… forever.
That silly Child. Always changing the names of her costumes to fit what she actually wanted. Adding princess, or fairy, or good, to adjust its meaning to her liking. Making faces at each and every option we looked at. In the end, her tiny happy bones, her never ending smile, and perfect Halloween 🎃 face always satisfied. Do we buy the makeup. Do we color the hair. Smiles. Planning the annual party. Decorations. A 10 foot ghost. Candelabras galore. We had one every year…
I got seven years. Be happy you say… She would want that. So would they. Seven long years… Well I won’t, and you should know better. Not today, or ever. I’ll take that seven years a million times, but I won’t be comforted in those seven years, or the time that I had that is gone. And you wouldn’t either… My chance with her for years to come will always be stolen and it will ruin everything. Yes she wouldn’t want me to suffer, but what she would want more wasn’t to die, or watch me suffer today watching those who have most certainly lost the point of this holiday being about their children, and their joy… Shaking my head here, and in tears. No, she would definitely not have wanted that.
Yep, there is no craziness for us, and no care to celebrate. Those decorations haven’t been out for two of these holidays now, and she’s been gone for just over one. Just frustration and words almost said to her and to everyone else here. We can’t speak, we’re still stunned. We don’t rush to find items, we hide to avoid the thoughts of her in every happy child we see. Your children. We don’t plan out the events that lay ahead, we make excuses as to why we can’t go without her to the festivities that are planned. Your events.
Everything stopped for us. And we were left standing in the smoky Halloween air. Four people, in the fog. You can just make out our outline, if you try. Hand in hand… Just an empty space next to us, with a silhouette of a little girl. Age seven. And years of loss weighing down on her. The weight that shows on us too. Heavy. As others walk by, whispering words of encouragement to us… but we don’t move, we just stare forward and fight to not fall apart. To stay up. To not let go. To not change the presence we still feel of her. Here. Forever…
That is our Halloween… And thank you #DIPG.
#KatherineTheBrave 👻 🎃
Dirty Paws would have been a song that Katherine and I would have talked about and deciphered. We would have whittled it down to reasons why the animals were fighting, the results of that, and how it could have been avoided. It would have made us laugh, and get serious, and then back to laughing. Tori and Alissa would have joined us. Adding their opinions. She loved context and would have imagined a happy ending for both sides. Just like we would have all wished for for her. I miss her. I want to bury my head today. I’m tired. So tired.
She haunts every space, and we crave it… It hurts us in every possible way, yet we feed off of it. Like she’s tiptoeing and peeking around each thought, and we have thoughts to encourage her presence. With the truth and travesty of her final year following right behind her, ready to expose us as well. The joy of her, never alone without the heartache.
You see, I see her photo as I pass her shelf. My child’s memory… now adorning a shelf of trinkets. I never envisioned this is how her life would end. She would help me decorate that shelf with pictures and flowers once. Perfect organizations of each framed photo facing forward, in unison. Could you imagine? Your child… No, it’s not enough for me… this shelf. My body and soul can’t process the meaning of her new presence against that wall, in our dining room. My child was alive. She stared into my eyes and spoke every emotion within them. I have visions of those times. Before I was me, here… my cheeks are hot. My head is foggy. My eyes are watering. I can’t make this better. I’ve lost my chance.
So right about now, I’m wondering how long we can live this way. Pretending to be like everyone else. Without the child we once loved, and with a new shelf (existence) we aren’t sure how to be a part of. She was our world, and we cherished her. We nourished her, and we grew with her. And then we gave her poison to try and save her. And worse yet, we gave her promises and lies to save ourselves.
“Anything to make you smile. You were the ever living ghost of what once was. No one is ever going to love you more than I do…”
We took a knee… when we found out our daughter would die. We took a knee when we were hugging her because she couldn’t get up to hug us anymore, or it hurt to lift her arms. We went down on our knees when we had to clean up the mess from spilled food and drinks when she couldn’t hold things anymore. We took a knee still holding her up on the potty to help her keep her dignity at 7 years old with a terminal cancer. We took a knee when we were filling her tubie with more oils to stop the pain from her organs slowly failing, one by one. We took a knee when she died, to hug her and to say goodbye.
Taking a knee is the least of our problems.
If as many people were to see childhood cancer as passionately unacceptable, and as socially irresponsible, as they see protesting during a football game, Katherine would have made it. She definitely would have made it. She’d be here today. Smiling. Asking us what’s all the fuss about.
I’m not telling you what my opinion is. Because it doesn’t matter. None of it matters when you’re in our reality. I laughed a lot today at the riduculousness of it all. I hope you never experience this numbness we live with everyday. What we experienced as a family makes you bitter and angry towards the backlash of these “little things”. No, the real stuff isn’t in the headlines sadly. That real stuff is what truly brings you to your knees. 😔🎗
#KatherineTheBrave #EndDIPG #MoreThan4
What a wonderful time meeting such strong families going through the worst fight ever. Thank you for introducing yourselves to us, because I’m horrible at that, as you could tell. I am so touched and hope to see you again.
Thank you Audra and Justin and all of your foundation supporters for holding us up when we couldn’t hold ourselves up after this horrible diagnosis. For giving our hands and minds tasks to focus on, like thriving, when our one track minds could not look past the survival rate. For wrapping your arms around us when we only had enough strength to hold the one we were fighting for. And for soothing our hearts when our hearts were beyond broken as our lows outweighed our highs. We love you both, and you amaze us every year.
There were three things the oncology department told us when Katherine was diagnosed.
1: Your child has a cancer called DIPG. It’s a brain stem glioma. We will not operate.
2: Your child will die. Take her home. Make memories. Now.
3: Call the McKenna Claire Foundation and MaxLove for Support. They can help you. They will help you.
And they did. To the end. And still do.
We will never forget that day for many reasons. And we will never forget your support.
Loves and Kisses. See you next time.
The Kings — with Katherine King.
“I don’t want to go to heaven alone! I am going to miss you! I’m scared to go alone!” As she reached for me so many times.
Katherine feared her death and cried openly about it. For months we would say not to worry, that’s not gonna happen. Or, we are going before you. And this would calm her down. Although, her fears increased, and at some points it took hours to calm her down. Lots of hugs and kisses, and distraction. Eventually that lie would not work anymore. She just knew. It was in the air. She could sense it. Our expressions spoke volumes. And loudly. With each raspy coughing fit and added day of no eating. We were walking open books. Eventually, the fears came several times a week, then multiple times a day. Then it was constant.
I remember a few weeks before she passed, after another cry, I said to her, “Heaven is so amazing, you won’t even miss us. You will blink and be there. You’ll blink again and we will be there. A blink” Time is infinitesimal. A blink. A blip. For her…
But for us, we are that boiling pot of water being watched. We will never quite come to any sense of a normal. Just when we think it might happen, someone starts staring at the pot again. And I lied to her. Over and over. About everything. I promised we would be waiting. And here we are. My other daughters struggling to be normal. My husband fighting to move forward and deal with it in his own way. And me. Holding onto the regrets. As we boil over when everyone turns away again.
I promise you Katie I said those thing because I loved you. I didn’t want you to be worried. I wanted you to smile and laugh and be you again. The Katie Baby who loved funny socks, and frozen grapes, and made flying chicken finger potato pea boats to get her veggies down, just to make mom happy. And, none of it worked. The lies. You were never you again. And we’ll never be us again. We all died that day. A blip. And we’re gone. We’re just still in our skin.
(Daddy’s last goodbye)
I watched my child die and wished so many things I hadn’t said were said. Things that I was worried would make it worse for her. Her fragile emotions, as fragile as it could be as a 7 year old who subconsciously knew she was dying. I had 12 months to prepare, and there I laid, wounded, voiceless, frozen. No amount of “warning” can prepare you for watching your child breathe three last times. It’s always three last times.
No amount of science or faith can save you from that moments sobering reality. My childhood trauma, the fight to escape, was nothing compared to watching her fight to live. To fight to be with us just one more day. She was stronger than all of us, and there we were. Blank.
I know what I’d say. Again…
“I’m so sorry… I don’t know why. I wish I did. I wanted to save you. I will try to save others. Your friends. Their kids. I will keep you alive. You are so special. So much more than this life. You won’t be alone in heaven. Don’t cry. I promise it will be amazing there. I’ll see you soon. I will be there. Please wait for me if I’m not.”
On, and on, and on… I wanted to say so much more. So very much more. She deserved more. She deserved some answers. If this was your last day, or if it was the last day to say something to someone you loved, your child, what would you say? Just the thought makes people pause. I know. Me too…
#KatherineTheBrave #DIPG #EndDIPG #MoreThan4
Just ordered a very large lot of #KatherineTheBrave bracelets. Finally! 🎗 We have adult size gray with light gray font, and children’s size rainbow with bright white font. They say, “#KatherineTheBrave #MoreThan4 DIPG”. Picture in comments. Any profit goes to the McKenna Claire Foundation towards this weekends Lemonade stand up until this Sunday night. Any orders on Monday and beyond will go to the Lucille Packard Childrens Hospital which will support both McKenna and Katherine’s tumor research. Both foundations make a huge difference for DIPG! You can PayPal me at: https://www.paypal.me/katherinethebrave with whatever donation you are able to give, and list your name, address, and how many you have ordered of each size in the comments. Orders will start shipping next week. Email me at JaimeRieck@yahoo.com with any questions. Thank you so very much! – Momma the Brave