Dear Kayla

Dear Kayla,

My precious red-headed daughter…..I can’t believe it’s been 1 year ago today since you left the earth and entered the gates of Heaven.  There are so many questions I want to ask you.  What is Heaven really like?  Are you happy?  Do you really work in a bakery in Heaven just like Ashley has told me?  When will I ever see you again?  There have been many days when I’ve kept expecting you to come running through the front door and say, “Mom!  I’m home!  I didn’t die.  I just ran away to Paris for a little while.  You know I have always wanted to go to France.  It is beautiful over there.  But, now I’m glad I am home.”  If you came through the front door right now I would hold you and never let you go.  However, I know that I have to at least acknowledge the reality; even if I really don’t want to accept it.

Your sisters are growing up so fast.  Allison has blossomed into a beautiful young lady.  Her hair continues to turn redder all the time.  And, it eventually may be as red as your hair one day.  Ashley manages to hit growth spurts just about every couple of months.  She is getting so tall and is absolutely adorable.  I’m always worried that Ashley will never have concrete memories of you.  So, I ask her all the time, “Do you remember Kayla?  Please don’t ever forget her.”  And, she always tells me, “Mommy, I remember Kayla and I could never forget her.”  They miss you so much.  Allison is really needing you right now to guide and advise her about life.  She always looked up to you, even when the two of you were arguing.  Before you died, she would not make a step or decision about anything until she saw what you would do first.  She does not have your guidance anymore and sometimes it can be very difficult for her.  I try to be there for her however I can.  But, I am not her big sister.  Allison has now taken on the role of the oldest sister to Ashley.  It can be a pretty overwhelming job for her at times.  But, I want you to know that she is an incredible, kind, considerate, gracious and loving sister to Ashley.    They do have their moments of sibling rivalry.  But, overall, they are absolutely there for each other 100%.  I know you would be so proud of them both.

One year…..Time is a funny thing; part of me feels like it has flown by.  Another part of me feels like it has stood still.  And, what’s left of me feels like it has been years since I last saw your face.  People say that “time heals all wounds.”  But, I don’t think these people have had a child pass away.  How can more time make me feel any better about your death?  And, I know I should be happy that you are now in a much better place with no sadness, fear or cancer.  But, the selfish part of me wants you here with us.  I would give just about anything right now to have a good mother/daughter argument with you.  And, after it was over I would hug you for hours until it was time to have the next argument.

The one thing that cannot be taken away are the memories of you.  And, your high school proved it!  I now know that you attended the best high school in the world!  I thought that all of the recognition you were given from your friends, classmates and teachers at graduation was beyond moving and touching.  However, they recently had a special memorial for you that was one of the most beautiful and compassionate things that has ever been done in your honor.  The principal, assistant principal, teachers, friends and family held a School Locker Sealing Ceremony with your old school locker.  We were each invited to put something memorable into your locker which would then be sealed…forever and never to be used again.  There was also a plaque placed on the locker door which said, “This Locker is forever sealed September 1, 2011, in loving memory of our student Kayla Jones who died September 22, 2010.”  I was asked to submit a quote or saying for the plaque.  Allison and I decided to go through each one of your journals until we found what we think you would have said.  We found a meaningful bible verse you had written down which was included on the plaque, “God will uphold you even if and when you stumble; just don’t let go of His hand.  Psalm 37:23 & 24.”  A pretty powerful verse that I now refer to quite often when I am having a tough day…..like today……Friends and family placed pictures, flowers and other memorable items into your locker.  There was a podium where the principal and teachers said many kind and thoughtful words about you.  Through the tears and sadness, your mother actually got up and spoke and you know I am not a fan of public speaking.  And, I’m not really sure what I said either.  But, I just knew I was going to say something even if it was tearful and difficult to get through.  I found my courage and strength through you on that memorable day………….

Now that it’s been 1 year, what do I do now?  There is so much I would like to do, but, you know me; I am a pro at procrastination.  A few months ago, I started writing a book about your journey with cancer.  I am so thankful for all of that journaling I did which is helping me to write this book.  Maybe I’ll have it published one day…….Maybe this book could help another mom out there that has just lost her teen daughter to leukemia and doesn’t know what to do with all the pain and heartache……Maybe I’ll just write it and pass it onto my grandchildren one day…..Although, I recently developed writer’s block, but, I will start back again soon.  Allison, Ashley and I also want to start a foundation in your name and memory.  There is a lot of work involved, but, we feel very passionate about it.  Your foundation would specifically help the kids diagnosed with leukemia and their families that are seeking long-term treatment.  We want to provide them with care packages of their favorite things and/or anything that can take their minds off of cancer even if it is just for a moment.  There are so many foundations for cancer research and finding a cure.  However, you know that there are kids in treatment right now at the exact same hospital where you lived and died that want just a moment of happiness.  It’s going to be so difficult to enter the doors of that hospital again and to see another child with no hair, wearing a surgical mask to protect them from germs and attached to an IV pole.  And, not because I would feel uncomfortable and trying not to stare.  But, it is because those are my last memories of you.

I’ve been spreading the word about September being National Childhood Cancer Awareness month.  I still can’t believe you passed away during this month of awareness.  And, everywhere I look the only color I see is pink for breast cancer.  I understand how horrific breast cancer can be.  However, I want to see more GOLD which is not one of my favorite colors, but, it represents childhood cancer.  Every time I see something in gold or orange (the color for leukemia) I think of you.  I can not and will not look at these colors the same ever again.  I even put a gold bow on our mail box, but, I don’t think that anyone really knows what it means.

I don’t want to end this letter to you.  I don’t want to say good-bye.  I don’t want to be strong like I am told I am so many times.  The truth is my heart continues to ache daily due to the piece of it that is now gone forever.  You are that piece of my heart that is missing.  And, I know I won’t get that piece back until it is my time to be with you again.

They say that you really don’t know what love is until you have a child of your own, which is such a true and accurate statement.  But, I have also learned that when your child dies the love for them only gets stronger.  The bond between us can never be broken.  I love and miss you so much.

Thank you for the orange butterfly that you sent my way the other day.  Please tell Jessi and Ava that their mother’s love and miss them dearly.

With all of my love,

Mom

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About MomMinus1

Welcome to my blog, momminus1 (mom minus one). I am a mother of three beautiful girls, Kayla 17, Allison 13 and Ashley 5. One of my daughters recently became an angel; Kayla passed away on September 22, 2010 due to complications from AML leukemia. She was diagnosed on July 3, 2010. She endured harsh chemotherapy treatments, hair loss, rare and painful skin disorders, horrible stomach infections, weakness, loss of appetite, depression, anxiety and fear. From the time she was diagnosed until the day she died it was just 81 days..... A short, but, horrific battle with cancer. I am always asked, "How are you doing? What can I do for you? How are your two girls doing?" At times, these are tough questions to answer. And, I express myself best when I write. Writing is so helpful and therapeutic for me. Maybe I can answer these questions for those that are concerned about us. Maybe I can help another mom that might wake up tomorrow and find out that their child is diagnosed with cancer. Maybe there is a mom somewhere, like me, that just lost a child to cancer and is searching the web for answers. She might be thinking, "Is there anyone out there that understands what I'm going through?" I understand. I am grieving. I am in pain. I have a big piece of my heart that is now gone.....I would love your feedback about my blog, too. Thanks for reading!
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11 Responses to Dear Kayla

  1. Pam Boone says:

    Amber, this was absolutely a beautiful letter. I cannot imagine what you have experienced over the 2 years with the battle your daughter faced and now the absence of her beautiful face and spirit in your every day life. I can tell you this. Although I have never had a child that died, I have had so many friends that have lost children that I have lost count and they have all told me that “time” doesn’t “heal” anything and there is no such thing as “closure”. The people who make those statements have no idea what they are talking about. Time actually makes you miss them even more; it’s just that the “pain” is not a “raw”. I have come to realize that you will never stop shedding tears for her absence but you have actually been able to learn to breathe again. I will tell you as I told one of my dearest friends whose son died in 1996. Your friends only wish they could carry the pain for you a little while so you could take a break from the grief. And while we cannot “take it” for you; we all do want to get shoulder to shoulder with you to help you carry it.

    What a beautiful ceremony you have described of the permanently sealed locker. I have never heard of that before. What a fabulous school. One of my grandsons now attends there.

    I also was not aware that Gold was the color for childhood cancer. I absolutely love the color Gold and will be placing a gold bow on my mailbox for you and we will never forget; just like Ashley will never forget.

    Reagan’s Granny.

  2. Sally Beechner says:

    Precious Amber: Time truly does NOT heal all wounds – only Christ can do that – and I can honeestly say you will not be healed until you see HIM – but you already know that….and your precious girl, I am sure, will be the first pair of eyes you see on your way to HIM…..wow, Amber, what a homecoming that will be…….how wonderful to be able to look forward to that….what joy that must bring your sorrowful heart. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!!!!! I love you!

  3. Marianne volpert says:

    Keep working at it.

  4. judy says:

    amber, your post was so beautiful i had to tear up just reading it. you mean so much to me and so does your beautiful girls. im always here for you. love ya

  5. Susan B says:

    Hi Amber, I’m glad you posted on my blog so I could read yours. You have three beautiful girls. It is tragic that Kayla’s life ended, and so quickly. Even though I knew Nick would die, even prayed his suffering would end, I still felt shock when he was gone, and it was a year from diagnosis to death.
    Your writing is the guts of grief, of missing your girl, of wishing she’d had more life and your three daughters had grown old together. Her death takes the dimensions out of your days, and nights, and all you can do is keep writing, and breathing, and hugging those precious daughters of yours.
    You will get better at living your life without Kayla in it. But, yeah, you are always going to miss her. It will make you different from most. In a good way, for having had one of Heaven’s angels for a short while.
    Keep up the posts – they are very therapeutic.
    Susan B

  6. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for your blog. I could relate to your message as I too have lost a child to cancer in September 2011, a week before my birthday. My son, Jamari was 3 1/2 years old when he passed and battled the cancer for a year. I miss my son tremendously. I feel the same way about just wishing I could hold him again one last time and just for him to be here in the physical body so that I could love on him and tell him how much I love him. I know our children are in paradise with their heavenly father. I am sure they feel like they are home and i know that they are taking care of us and blessing us. Thank u again for your blog. Your words touched me in a personal way! God bless you and your family!

    • MomMinus1 says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      Thank you so much for your response to my blog. I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. I wish I could take the pain away from you right now. It’s been a little over 22 months since Kayla passed away and the pain can still be so overwhelming and hard to handle at times. Someone once told me that we will never get over the loss of a child to cancer, but, we will and can get through it. Getting through it will probably take the rest of our lives until we can see our children again. Regretfully, I have not had a chance to write on my blog lately. However, I will start back again soon. Anytime you need to reach out to another mom that understands almost exactly how you are feeling, please let me know. I have met so many other mom’s that have dealt with the loss of a child to cancer, as well. You are not alone at all in this world. You are in my prayers.

      • Irma says:

        I lost my beautiful, precious daughter Sydney to Leukemia (ALL). Sydney was 13 yrs old. She lost her battle with this horrible disease on August 19, 2012. All I do all day is cry…………..I miss my daughter, she was so precious. All the nurses called her Sweet Sydney. Please pray for me.
        Thank you.
        Sydney’s Mom

      • MomMinus1 says:

        Thank you for contacting me and telling me about Sweet Sydney. I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter and your pain and grief. I understand exactly how you are feeling right now. I remember crying constantly until I felt that I didn’t have one tear drop left. It’s been 2 years since I lost Kayla and I still cry and I hurt. I wish I could, at least, carry your pain for you right now. Please know that you are not alone at all. There are many mother’s that I have met through my blog that have each lost their child to cancer. These courageous women have given me so much strength. I hope I can help you. I will be praying for you.

      • Irma says:

        Thank you for sharing Kayla’s story.
        It has helped me.

  7. Cindy says:

    I have been reading over your blog since you liked one of my posts!! Oh my gosh…I have tears running down my face. Your letter to your daughter is amazing… perhaps I will do the same on the anniversary of my sons death which will be next month. I do not comprehend how it feels to lose a child to cancer but I do know the feeling of losing a child. Thank you for sharing your words and good luck with the foundation. Big hugs to you!

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