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
#Unravel #KatherineTheBrave #MNO @LibbyKranz @Unravel @MNO #MNOLivermore2017 https://www.facebook.com/KatherineTheBrave/videos/1720816311293220/
Valencia High Schools Go Gold for Pediatric Cancers game was a huge win. Listen to the speakers voice. He read her story so eloquently and better than I’ve ever heard it read. Thank you Valencia, Mr. Louie, our wonderful ASB ladies and gentleman, and the Varsity football team for a wonderful game for Katherine the Brave! It was nice to hug you Garrett Paine. I haven’t seen you in years. 🙂 #KatherineTheBrave #VHS #VHSTigers #ValenciaHighSchool @ValenciaTigers #ValenciaTigers #GoVHSTigers https://www.facebook.com/KatherineTheBrave/videos/1719736381401213/
I write speeches and I’m reminded that even if I feel alone in my battle for my daughter, I have support. Out there. I just have to keep writing. And make everyone everywhere believe how important this still is.
Valencia Go Gold Football Game
“At six years old, after what seemed like months of doctor visits, trying to figure out why our daughter Katherine was struggling to do normal things that all kids do, we took her to the hospital, and were given the awful news that Katherine had a brain stem glioma called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG. Our 6-year-old Katherine, the baby in our family, was diagnosed with the number one killer of children in our community, and around the globe. That killer is Pediatric Cancer. Throughout her illness, out Katherine had a smile that would light up a room, and she would greet you with a strong hug and bid you farewell with a stronger hug, waving goodbye, saying, “Loves and Kisses” and “See you next time!” She wanted others to know that she was happy to see them, and would miss them. She gave hugs even when it hurt to lift her arms. She cared for others to the very end. Katherine passed away, in our arms, on June 6th of last year. A light was lost that day. A very bright light. Many of us know cancer. Cancer affects all of us in some form. When we are affected by a cancer diagnosis the fight to get rid of it begins. However, some cancers have no fight. Sometimes with cancer you are sent home and there is no hope. And sometimes, and more frequently, that is happening to small children, all around us and like our Katherine. September is Pediatric Cancer awareness month. It’s the month we get to say, “This is NOT OK” and, “We will not stand by and watch this happen to our kids.” We wear gold tonight to show our support for the many children out there that are fighting to live every day, and for those that could not fight and were sent home like Katherine. We wear gold tonight, and support these children to spread awareness, and share in their battle, so that others know that we need more funding to save these children, and we need people to know that it isn’t always a happy ending. Sometimes its tragic, and sometimes they don’t win the fight. But they could, if more people knew, and more people supported now. We were once like everyone here. Just going about our life, and thankful for every new day with our family. Let’s give that to everyone, and stop Pediatric Cancer in its tracks! Thank you for coming tonight. Thank you from our family, David and Jaime, Katherine’s parents, from her sisters Tori and from Alissa LaShorne, who attends Valencia this year as a senior, and thank you from Katherine, our little DIPG warrior, who is now Katherine the Brave. Good luck Valencia Tigers Varsity Football team, and to everyone Loves and Kisses, See You Next Time.”
My best friends son. 😔💛🎗
Pediatric cancer is not rare.
Let’s do something about it.
September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month and we have so much work to do. Our children deserve our awareness and our action. So that’s what we’re going to do. Over this next month and beyond, we are going to share the stories of some of our brave warriors and heroes who teach us to fight hard and never give up.
“Aidan WAS a very active boy. He played just about every sport you could think of. If he wasn’t watching a sporting event or playing himself he was constantly outside riding his scooter, building forts in the backyard, or shooting hoops with his best friend. He loved school. He had only missed one day of school from Kindergarten to the fifth grade. He loves his friends but he also loves to converse with adults. He would be invited to kids’ parties because he was “friends” with the mom. (Lol) He is bright and has a memory like an elephant. He loves practical jokes and has the most amazing sense of humor. He also loves to travel! Because of the tumor on his spine, Aidan is now paralyzed. He can no longer play sports, he has not been to school in a year, and instead of being outside, he is stuck indoors playing video games or watching tv. He struggles with the fact that he cannot walk. He was paralyzed from the neck down and once the tumor was removed he has gained some mobility on the right side. He cannot control his bladder so I have to use a catheter to drain his urine. He has had some incredibly embarrassing moments because of the bladder function loss, and has found humor to get him through. There are a lot of uncomfortable moments and together we try to focus on what he does have verses what he doesn’t. From the date of diagnosis, I left my job. I am a single mother and so there is absolutely no other person providing an income to support Aidan and me. We have to rely on donations from family and friends and even people we have never met. I will start working again soon, but am only able to earn 150% below poverty level. So, that is obviously not enough, but to me it is better than nothing. The reason for this is Aidan is able to be on Medi-Cal, which covers much more than his other two insurance policies. Yes, even with two insurance policies, the bills would be more than I even make in a year. Right now, he is working hard in physical therapy. Hopefully he will be able to get back into school in the next month or two. I will work in between caring for him. I am very proud to be his mom. He has dealt with this cancer diagnosis and being stripped of the life he knew with a lot of strength, mentally and physically, and laughs and makes me laugh on a daily basis.”
Fighting for Aidan