I created this blog when my sweet little girl, Kristen, was diagnosed with cancer, for the third time. After fighting for almost 3 years Kristen was called home to that same God who gave her life. One of my favorite quotes comes from Neal A. Maxwell- "Those who "plow in hope" not only understand the law of the harvest but they also understand what growing seasons are all about. True, those with genuine hope may see their proximate circumstances shaken like a kaleidoscope at times, yet with the "Eye of faith" they still see divine design." Kristen blessed lives and continues to do so. Her light continues to shine. As for me, I continue to "plow in hope" knowing well that Kristen is mine for eternity. Families can be together forever!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Our Angel

For the past 2 years I have shared Kristen’s life here. I hoped the day would never come where I would also share a bit about her passing. Some things that transpired are sacred
and I will keep them in my heart for now.
On June 4. 2010, Kristen relapsed. Leukemia (AML) was once again taking over her bone marrow and flowing in her blood. Kristen’s heart could not withstand any more chemo as this was the 3rd time in just 21 months that the leukemia had shown up in her bone marrow. Even a bone marrow transplant couldn’t keep the leukemia away. Her brother, Ricky, freely gave her his own bone marrow in hopes of saving her. We were dealing with a very aggressive leukemia. Kristen was given 4 to 6 months to live.
We now know that she really had just 47 short days left.
Three days prior to July 20th Kristen was running a high fever. The doctors felt it was definitely worth treating her for any infections. We took her to the ER early Saturday morning in hopes of getting her started on antibiotics. A chest x-ray showed pneumonia, an enlarged heart and a partially collapsed left lung. She was taken to ICU as her blood pressure was extremely low. She was started on 2 antibiotics and also put on oxygen. We kept her there for 24 hours in hopes of getting her blood pressure stabilized. We brought her home on Sunday with two IV antibiotics and oxygen. We were hopeful that she would kick this pneumonia and still have a few good months left.
Monday she seemed uncomfortable. She still wanted to go down to the family room as she did every morning. She also wanted to put her clothes on. I told her that she should just put some clean pajamas on and maybe tomorrow she would feel better and could get dressed. She finally agreed. In just a short hour she was ready to go back up to her bed. It took two of us to carry her back upstairs. She was still running a slight fever and still seemed uncomfortable. I began alternating Tylenol with low doses of pain medication. As the drugs did their job she finally seemed comfortable and went about her routine of organizing her beads, ropes and flashlights. I hand fed her jello, oatmeal and soup throughout the day. My oldest daughter, Katy was in the hospital having her baby girl. I didn’t feel I could leave Kristen, but when my husband came home for lunch he said he would sit with Kristen. I quickly ran to the hospital to see the new baby. I took pictures and ran home quickly and printed them and took the pictures straight up to Kristen. She loved the pictures and showed them to everyone who came into the room. I told her that not tomorrow, but the next day, Katy would be over with the baby. She seemed content. My mother came over and my other daughter, Kamie, was also home. We took turns sitting in Kristen’s room as she kept taking her oxygen off. We knew she needed it so we kept encouraging her to leave it on. Kristen was comfortable but she seemed weak and more tired than usual. That evening I carried her into the bathroom. I could hardly lift her. I thought it was because she was too weak to hold on. I soon realized that her ankles were swelling as well as her trunk. I tried to set her on the scale and I could see that in 2 days she had gained 15-20 pounds. She was filling up with fluid. In the past Kristen has held fluid and she needed medication to help her eliminate the fluid. I was hoping this was the case, but in my heart I knew her kidneys were shutting down. My girl was slowly dying and had been for some time. I called the doctor around 10:30 pm to ask about the fluid. He said in the morning they could send something out to help her eliminate the fluid,
the he said something that I didn’t want to hear.
He said, “You should know that she may pass in the night.”
Those words hit me like a brick. I quickly called my children and my mother. As soon as everyone arrived we gathered in Kristen’s room and gave her a blessing. She was still sitting up playing with her beads. The grandkids sang Kristen a song and everyone soon parted. A strange feeling came over me that I really can’t describe. I knew that I was tucking Kristen in bed for the last time. As I crawled in bed with her I cuddled up next to her and held her hand. My husband was sitting in her chair just waiting and watching. Neither he nor I slept. It was as though we were waiting for death to arrive. It was gut wrenching as our hearts were breaking. Neither of us knew what to expect. I still cannot put into words the feeling in her room that night. I had been praying for days that when the time came she would go to sleep and not wake up. She had been through so much I felt she deserved to go peacefully. She awoke three times during the night and each time she spoke. I will share more about those moments when I am ready. Two times she pulled her oxygen off and fought a little as I put it back on. As the early morning progressed her heart rate increased as her saturation levels fell dramatically. She seemed to be resting peacefully, which was also a blessing as she had had trouble sleeping for the last several nights. I stayed cuddled next to her and held her hand throughout the night and into the morning. Richard would come over several times during night and morning hours and kneel at the bed and hold her other hand. At 6:40 a.m. my daughter, Kim had arrived. She lives a couple of hours away and had left her home early to be with Kristen. I looked up and said, “Kim, you made it!” Then suddenly there was a kind of rumble and Kristen’s breathing changed. I yelled for Richard and he was soon kneeling and sobbing at the bedside. He said, “her heart stopped”
she took about three more breathes and she was gone.
There she was in her own bed between
Richard and I as her spirit left her body as peacefully as it entered some 24 years earlier.
Soon her room was filled with brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, all with broken hearts and tears. I stayed right there in bed with Kristen until they arrived to pick up her body. Two men dressed in suits carrying a bracelet which contained her name and a number. They reached for her ankle while explaining to me that this was her permanent identification, it was made to never come off. I still cannot put into words the feelings I was having as I sobbed continually. My husband picked up her lifeless, swelled, sick little body and carried her downstairs to the waiting gurney.
I helped place a white sheet around and over Kristen’s body. I led the way out the front door to the waiting van. I stood there in the driveway, barefoot, still in my pajamas, watching as the two men reverently placed her body inside the van. I watched as they drove up the street and turned around and then they drove by again. I stood there for a time unable to move.
As I turned around and looked at my house there was a brightness above my house.
One that I can’t explain. It felt as though the heavens were open as my little angel made her way back to the One that gave her life.
Now I am left here without her for the first time in 24 years.
I never knew my heart could actually hurt. I never knew sadness in such as way as I do now. The wonder of this pain is unlike anything I have ever felt before.
I do still have my faith. I know that Kristen is in a beautiful place. She is free of cancer for the first time in 2 years and she is with her grandpa who loves her dearly.
I know that Kristen would not want her death to diminish my life. She would want me to live better and love deeper. I need to find a way to take this pain and make something positive out of it. I need to honor her name. I need to get busy. But I’m not there yet. Do I still break out crying for no reason? Yes. Do I turn on her light every night because that is how she liked it? Yes. Do I cuddle up on her bed and watch Disney channel every now and again? Yes. Is her room still perfectly organized just the way she left it? Yes.
My relationship with Kristen has changed form. I cannot physically see or touch her but I can feel her presence and see her light shining through the clouds. I am constantly looking for the courage to redefine my place in this shifting landscape that is now before me. As I continue to grieve and mourn, as I dissolve the physical bonds that Kristen and our family shared the spiritual and emotional bonds remain intact. When pain, emptiness, loneliness and separation cause us to lose control, grief is the process necessary to bring control back into our lives.
So for now… the grieving continues.

27 comments:

Angi said...

Thank you. You are still giving of yourself and of Kristen, your words are perfect and so right, perfect words for your perfectly wonderful girl. I think of her often and have a feeling of peace.

Heather said...

And our love for you and Kristen continues as well.Along with our endless prayers of peace as your journey continues.

Rochelle said...

Thank you for continuing to share the blessing of Kristen, especially at this very difficult time. Your words have me in tears. I think of you often and pray for your continued peace.

Anne and Whitney: Up, Down and All Around said...

I did not know about your blog until the past few months - but I have followed along since I found it and in just a short time became attached to Kristen's story. I have tears streaming as I am reading what you are going through. I am thinking about you and we have had Kristen and your family in our prayers every night when we say our prayers with the girls before bed.

heather said...

I honestly don't think I have ever sobbed so much while reading a blog entry. I think of my cute Morgan and my heart hurts for your family. I love the peace you have been able to find during such a difficult time and that you are still able to feel her presence. I know she is watching over you and anxiously awaiting your big reunion. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Thanks for sharing her story with all of us!

ABandCsMom said...

Feeling very much the same way as you. Even though I know my little Carly is in fact an angel. I am still very angry with God. Not even sure how I will ever be able to come to terms with the suddenness of Carly's death. Please know, there isn't a minute in my day that I don't think of you and Kristen and your family. Sadly our families are walking the same miserable long road of grief.

Kelly said...

I am so, so sorry for your loss.

Leah said...

One foot in front of the other, with God holding your hand. That is the only way to get through, I guess. I have never been where you are. I cannot even begin to identify, only sob through your post because I know one day I'll have to be there, and I don't think I can do it. And yet, there is no choice. Its one of those things that isn't written about in the parenting books. There isn't a way to prepare for this. Know that we are praying for you, and the rest of the family, that you can find your way.

stephanie said...

Polly, that was beautiful, heart wrenching, inspirational, emotional, and the list goes on. Thank you for trusting us with your heart. I hope we can help it to heal.

I am looking for just the right frame for the pic you sent to me. I look at Kristen every day and smile.

Kristin said...

I cannot imagine your pain. Tears and prayers for your family.

The VW's said...

Thank you for sharing these intimate moments and thoughts with us. They are so very precious and touching!

I can't even imagine the ache you must have inside you, but after reading your words I have a definite ache in my heart for you and your wonderful family.

Kristen was blessed with such a loving family and you were blessed with such an inspirational girl! This is such a gift, but it probably makes losing her even more difficult.

I pray that God gives you peace, strength, grace and comfort.....today and until you are reunited with your sweet girl once again. Love, Hugs and Prayers!!!

Ruby's Mom said...

Thank you for sharing this with all of us.It's so nice to know that Kristin is cancer free and walking the streets of Heaven.
I'm praying for you in your journey of grief.

Tina said...

Thank you for sharing your journey with us, it is so personal but you have let us in to your life and shown us just how beautiful Kristin was. Today Kristin no longer suffers but for those left behind the pain and sadness can't possibly go away. I pray for your strength and peace that somehow with time the days get easier and that the knowledge that Kristin continues to live in so many hearts is of some comfort. Her work here has not ended for she will continue to inspire so many with the story of her life.

Brighton said...

I am sitting here crying for you. I know that you will take this grief and out of it produce something beautiful and meaningful in Kristen's memory. You are so much stronger than you ever gave yourself credit for being. I am in awe of you, Polly. *hugs*

Michele said...

While this is such a sad post to read and has me bawling my eyes out, it's also very comforting. Your faith is so strong. While it's hard to wrap my head around this whole process in my heart I know that what you say, about us living better and loving deeper is so very true. Thinking of you daily.

SSBenjamins said...

It has taken me a few days to get through your post. I know your feeling, I know your pain- I still feel it with Trent gone. I was so blessed to have found you and Kristen, after Trent died I needed a focus.. for some reason when I found the 2 of you my heart started to feel a little bit better. What a beautiful post and what a pure blessing it was to have Kristen at home. My heart just aches for you and your husband and children. Kristen sure fought til the end. These kids knew what life was about- they knew what unconditional love was... They fought there whole time on earth and fought til the minute they were taken back to our Father in Heaven. We are SO blessed to have been given such a WONDERFUL opportunity to love our Father In Heavens most choice child. I feel SO bad for people who haven't had the chance to have there kind of love- I think that's what makes it the hardest.
I loved looking at Kristen's cute pictures you would post on your blog- you could see her love you could feel the love you and your hubby and kids had for her. I can tell your Family was a lot like mine where the focus was her- Oh, please know how much love I have for you. And I wish I could say the grieving is not very long but I am the last person to do so. I miss Trent SO bad. Just saying his name makes me get emotional.. Please know we pray for you guys and what a beautiful feeling you felt that day- what a hard but SO spiritual day you had our Family felt it the day my brother passed away. I love your Family and I wish I could do something.. Take care.

Brandi said...

We love you Polly and so know how your heart is feeling.....so bitter sweet! Love you and your family. Thanks for sharing so much of Kristen with us.

Amy L said...

Polly,
I can't thank you enough for sharing Kristen with all of us. I too found your blog only a few months ago and began praying for Kristen and your family. We have talked about Kristen daily and always pray for her at night. In fact, my little ones still say God Bless Kristen in their prayers at night. I share your posts with Jimmy, he also talked about Kristen daily. I continue to pray for you and your family Polly, and my heart goes out to you. Please know that we will always remember Kristen, she was and is such an inspiration to us. God Bless you,
Amy

My name is Sarah said...

This is Joyce. Oh Polly, My heart is right beside you. I read this last evening and sat and wept for a good long time. I just can't imagine what you and your family are going through right now. Not many a mom can truly understand what it means to have our girls for twenty plus years. The unique and constant caring that is involved which creates that extra layer of bond. They become our world.

I had a group of people in the store today, clients of John's and when I started to relay the story and got to the pillow case connection I lost it. I broke down and cried in front of everyone. I so rarely do that in public, but I thought of your words and your kindness in allowing us to share in your grief. Your strength and pain.

王丁佳燕文均 said...

不妄求,則心安;不妄作,則身安!......................................................

JennyH said...

What a hard post to read. It had to be a hard one to write. I am crying for you. I'm so sorry you have to go through that kind of pain. It does sound like she went peacefully though. Her life was cut too short but she has touched so many in her short life.

Praying for you.

ParkerMama said...

I feel honored for you to have shared your heart with us.

You will never know how much of an impact your faith has had on me.

Tammy and Parker
www.prayingforparker.com

Monica said...

Polly, though I never had the honor of meeting Kristen in person...she will forever have a place in my heart. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Thank you for sharing your precious angel with us.

Kristi said...

Praying for your family...

Erica said...

Thank you for sharing.

I've been following your blog for awhile now, and it was with sadness that I read of Kristen's passing.

I'm sorry for your loss.

Houda said...

Your angel Kristen changed my life in ways you will never know. I am saddened to my core to read of her passing.



You are in my prayers.

Sumithra said...

I came upon your blog and read about Kristen just a few months back. I couldn't control my tears as I read your post. I'm saddened by your loss. Hugs.