Many people have already written down the things they want to accomplish next year. I’ve never been big on resolutions because quite frankly they’ve always seemed so cliché. However, going into 2017, I’ve decided to write down just one resolution—LIVE!
No, I don’t feel as though the end is near. I feel like I’ve gone through so much in the past few years that there were times when I felt like I was standing still while the world around me was spinning on. 2017 will be the year that I just… LIVE.
On Christmas day, as I was in the kitchen helping my mom prepare dinner and scrolling down my Facebook feed—I stopped. A childhood friend of mine had posted a collage of her daughter, like most parents were doing on Christmas, but this post was different. My heart dropped as I read the caption “… she has transitioned and is now an angel.” I immediately went upstairs to the bathroom where I read the caption a second and third time with tears streaming down my cheeks. I thought about her mother. I thought about her recent birthday (she had just turned 8) and I thought about the two times I had the privilege of meeting sweet Kaelyn.
I had only met her two times, but “Kourageous Kaelyn” had definitely left a lasting impression on my heart. The first time I saw Kaelyn, she was out shopping with her mother who introduced us. Kaelyn was the spitting image of her mom. She had the brightest eyes and the biggest smile. I was excited to meet her, and glad to see her doing well after beating leukemia.
The next time I saw Kaelyn was maybe a year or so later after learning that the leukemia had come back. I reached out to her mom who had often encouraged me throughout my cancer treatment. I wanted to do something special for Kaelyn. I asked her mother what type of things she liked and my boys and I put together a gift bag fit for a princess.
I pulled up to meet Kaelyn and her mom for lunch and give her the bag of princess goodies my boys and I had put together. Kaelyn’s hair had all come out due to her chemo treatment and her mother sported a short cut in support of her baby girl. I wanted to grab Kaelyn up and give her a big hug. I struggled with chemo as an adult so I could only imagine how someone so young was enduring the same and for a second time.
What I remember most is how bright her eyes were. They had the same sparkle they’d had the first time I met her, but she was so tired. She didn’t eat much of her food as her mother and I chatted. She rested her head on her mother’s shoulder. At one point during lunch, her mother got up to refill her drink and Kaelyn looked up at me shyly. I asked her how she was feeling. She didn’t say anything instead she flashed a quick smile.
Half way through lunch, she became very cold and I offered her my jacket. I was amazed by this little girl’s strength as I watched her wrap up in my jacket. When lunch was over, we said our good-byes. I continued to follow Kaelyn’s journey through social media and texting her mother to check in from time to time. Every picture and every video showed Kaelyn smiling. She became one of my greatest inspirations. From dancing with the nursing staff at the hospital, horseback riding to rocking her cape—she was always so full of life and always smiling. Whenever I looked at her pictures, I never saw a sick child, but a little girl who was just doing what little girls do–enjoying life.
Kaelyn just lived! In spite of her circumstances she remained so strong and she lived life to the fullest. If there’s one thing Kaelyn has encouraged me to do, it’s to LIVE. Do what makes you happy. Try new things. Be “Kourageous”.
It took me a while to figure out exactly what to say to her mother as I sat in the bathroom wiping tears from my eyes. I lost count of how many times I started the message and quickly deleted it. After what seemed like forever, I finally gathered my thoughts and hit send. I wasn’t expecting her to respond, but she did:
“She was such a little ball of joy and love that I am not super sad and mopey. Cancer taught me to be present and enjoy the adventures that life offers daily. It taught me gratitude. I am sure that you have experienced all of this and more. I am so happy that you continue to survive and bless this world with your presence. Thank you for the beautiful thoughts that you send my family and I am so happy that the two of you met. Blessings to you always”
Rest Well Kourageous Kaelyn.
Thank you for being a light and inspiring me to just LIVE!
I've always believed that we tend to be the most effective in areas where we have been the most affected. It's often our deepest pains that draw us closer to our purpose. Those words never really hit home until I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 28. I had watched both my mother and grandmother battle the disease, but never thought I would find myself in the same battle, especially not so young. I've learned through this journey that it's not what you go through, but how you go through it. I wanted to share my story in hopes that it will inspire someone to keep fighting, keep the faith and live on purpose.