A number of you have been asking about the story that was read by Kai’s teachers at his celebration and I’m so sorry I’ve been meaning to post it on here sooner than now! I was sent this story by a friend from primary school and it definitely struck a chord with us. I’m not sure the background on it or anything, but I think it’s a pretty beautiful story.
Thanks to the thoughtful and kind suggestion made on this site by a fellow mother who lost her son, we were connected to a grief support center called The Christi Center here in Austin. Tonight we went. As everyone told us, we’re still in the shock phase. I agree. Everything is surreal. It feels like a fog many times and I feel so bad that sometimes I’m not quite sure what I’m saying in conversation or I try to put the dishtowels in the fridge (but maybe that’s Maya’s fault because she started eating the cabinets while I was doing laundry).
The caring and kind people we met tonight welcomed us and were willing to share their journey and story so that we could see that yes, the pain will never leave you, but that doesn’t mean you live without hope. I didn’t know quite what to say, I don’t remember what I said. It was really really hard saying the words that Kai isn’t here, I realized I hadn’t had to say that out loud to anyone yet. I could barely whisper it.
But you know what, Love wins again. The way they have everyone introduce themselves is by saying, I’m Aki, and I’m here for the LOVE of my son, Kai. The LOVE. It hurts so much because we love them so much. And I’m never, ever going to stop loving Kai. And to be honest I’m not sure what that’s going to look like — maybe it will be everchanging. But, it’s made me realize, or maybe hope, that it doesn’t have to be awkward or taboo to celebrate someone who is gone. I think I’ve never known what to say when someone’s experienced a loss – and the people we met tonight who could definitely understand what we felt also admitted that truly there are no words. But, we can love and care for each other – and when I think about it like that, it seems so simple. When we experience grief, anxiousness, suffering, joy, triumph, success and all of the other emotions we go through in a lifetime, we need/want love and care from others in whatever form that may take. This may be a crowd of friends or simply the ultimate, supernatural peace of God in a prayer when we don’t even know what to pray.
I hope that it’s ok to share Kai with others for the rest of my lifetime and keep him alive in my heart and maybe I just write all this to let you know that even if you may see tears in me or anyone else that is grieving, it’s just because I love him….and that’s a good thing, it’s bigger than the pain….. it means Love wins.
I feel like God had Kai give us a little love today because He knew we were struggling…. Maya was playing with Kai’s alphabet blocks and I heard her knock a bunch to the ground. She then army crawled her way over to me and dropped one at my lap….it was the letter “K”. She smiled at me knowingly and I smiled back and I could feel Kai smiling too.
Earlier this month we had no idea that the Head for the Cure 5K would be in Austin. After Kai’s diagnosis, we became aware of the 5K, but assumed that we would be in treatment somewhere and would be unable to join. It pains me that things all happened so quickly and here we are, able to participate in the HFTC event this year, yet Kai’s physical presence was not with us.
There was a tremendous turnout this morning. Team Kai consisted of no less than 40 members, collectively putting in over 200 kilometers! While some of us trailed at the back, pushing little ones in strollers, Team Kai featured 3 of the top 11 runners! Chris G, Chris M, and Conor all posted blistering paces. (We now have a HFTC medal generously donated to Kai.) There was even a medal earned in the under 10 age group!
In addition, these amazing people from work (in Chicago) organized their own 5K while we participated in the Head for the Cure 5K in Austin – we can add another 150 kilometers to Team Kai! While it certainly looks colder there, at least the sun was out. Sun’s out, Kai’s out!
This morning was tough without Kai being there. Still, I felt him with us. When the sun broke through to warm us from the chilly morning we made sure to tell Maya: “Sun’s out, Kai’s out!”. I was excited to see so many people supporting brain cancer research and supporting both survivors and victims, yet at the same time it was saddening. Writing a message to Kai on a wall at the event brought tears to my eyes. Walking with Maya in the stroller brought tears to my eyes since Kai always had the stroller position while Maya snuggled in an Ergo up against mom. Seeing a distant colleague at the same event because he also has a connection to brain cancer brought tears to my eyes. I never realized that you don’t have to go far in the circle of people that you know before you find somebody with a personal connection to brain cancer (let alone cancer in general).
We all missed Kai dearly today but are glad that events like this are around to raise awareness and funds. It was a beautiful morning and taking the time to walk the course was calming. It was a rare opportunity to speak with friends old and new. Maya was able to sport her Kai’s Choo Choo Crew t-shirt and even made a new friend when she met Pierce. Maya isn’t a happy camper when she misses her nap and Pierce was able to get her to smile, which always turns out to be contagious.
I am thankful that I felt Kai today, even though I couldn’t physically hug him. Love you, buddy.
P.S. – How perfect is it that the 5K was held at Camp Mabry? Kai would always call out “airplane” or “helicopter” whenever we drove past Camp Mabry – there are some fighter planes and helicopters on display at the edge of the Camp such that traffic on the highway drives right past them. No doubt he would have loved running within feet of them today.
Sun’s out, Kai’s out! After a crazy day of a weather yesterday, we are enjoying a beautiful day here in Austin. It’s admittedly bittersweet because a day like this would mean a full day outside with Kai running, jumping, climbing, and laughing and we are missing that right now. I have talked about trying to be sure and choose life in these times but I will say – it can be so stinkin’ hard. In the mornings I just wish sometimes I could bury my head under the covers and let the grief take over. and yesterday, the day that marked one week from when sweet Kai went to Heaven, I really felt overcome by dark and choosing life seemed so hard.
But in a somewhat weird sounding twist, God helped/forced me to choose life – baby Maya needed us. With a shriek she woke me, which told me she wasn’t feeling well, so I had no choice but to choose life and see Maya and learned she had a fever. Baby Maya stayed curled up on me all morning just like her brother used to do when he was sick – it was a little hard hearing those cries that I couldn’t decipher to understand what was causing her pain because it made me think of all of those days I didn’t know why Kai was in such pain. But at the end of the day, Maya had a few smiles even through the fever and the sun came out and I told her “sun’s out, Kai’s out!” and she smiled so big.
I think a lot of things will continue or maybe always be bittersweet to us now, things that just make our hearts ache but also smile when we remember Kai. So I thought it was appropriate to post this video of Kai and Maya about a month after Maya was born – God is using both Kai and Maya to help us see/choose life – it feels like moving through mud but then I can see these smiles and that love and joy just miraculously brings a light to the dark.
And I realize this may sound cliché or repetitive or just not sufficient, but all of the cards, emails, texts, comments, messages, phone calls, prayers we’ve been receiving this week have been lifting us up so much. You all are amazing – you’re showing the good and life in all of this – thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.