Tag: First year

Letter to Kai – your 3rd birthday

I realize that this post may seem cliche or cheesey – so I feel like a disclaimer of this sort is me totally owning up to the nature of what I’m about to write. So here goes.

This 4th of July weekend, I’ve thought a lot about the word freedom. I remember when Shawn and I lived in Romania and learned what the people of Romania had been through in their history and seeing how many liberties and freedom we had, honestly, taken for granted. It was a needed wake-up call for us. I also reflected on how many sacrifices so many people have made for establishing this country – my dad had us recall what we learned in school back in the day – it was good to try and remember those things (though I admit, I had to pull up google for some things!). And then I think about Kai – I have these letters and notes that people wrote to Kai and I do have permission to share them anonymously and I will soon, but one of the notes was written on one of the folded cranes sent in and I remember it said, “you’re free Kai, free as a Krane” (yes, it was spelled with a K).

He is free.

Free from this broken world, the pain he was suffering. A new freedom. And as I think about that, I think about the letter I wrote to Kai last week on what would have been his 3rd birthday (June 27). I kept thinking – should I post this? Does it show too much broken-ness? Should I post something not so bittersweet? But, a wise and kind woman who has also faced (and beat!) cancer with her son, reminded me of the freedom there is in being honest about the broken-ness. We are all broken in our own way from our individual paths, stories, heck, just because we’re human. We’re in this together – and I guess this is me just saying, I’m broken, I’ll never be perfect, and I don’t know what/how this journey is supposed to look, so all I know I can do is be honest and try to look for the good….. to grieve with hope.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who were out there spreading light and love on Kai’s birthday. Thank you so very much.

Dear sweet Kai Kai,

Today (June 27, 2014) would have been your third birthday. Oh how I wish so much, so much that you would be here with us and we could have thrown you this celebration today and you would be here. I hope that you felt/saw/heard, however it works in Heaven, all the people here wishing you a happy birthday and loving you and then doing good, kind things for others in honor of your life.

Kai, I miss you so much.

There is such a huge hole in my life – you have not left my heart, but it’s just so different and so hard learning how to be your mom and love you from afar when all i want to do is hold you and talk to you and watch you learn and grow and challenge and investigate and run, jump, sing, scream, cry, talk and grow up. I would love to see you and Maya together.

We were watching our old videos of you and even seeing the one video your Dad had taken right after Maya was born where you were on the floor crying and throwing a tantrum and Maya was next to you screaming and crying and since we couldn’t figure out how to calm either of you we just decided to video tape it for the humor in it. At the time, it was so frustrating, but tonight it’s so funny how when I saw that video, my heart ached so strongly to be able to have that again with you. I keep thinking back to the last few months of your life – I keep thinking if I noticed signs you were sick or if there was any way we could have known. I feel so awful if I missed if you were in pain or if I made you “work out” your tantrum for too long when really it was the brain tumors that were making you unable to settle like you once did. I feel so awful Kai. I know that I didn’t know and that as your mom it was my job to love you which meant not only the hugs and laughs but the firmness and discipline and tears. But, I know there were times I lost my temper and I screamed and I hate that – and I know that I apologized to you and told you when it was wrong of me to lose my temper so badly but I remember your face and how sad you looked when I’d do that. Oh Kai, you were such a patient little boy when I was learning how to be a mom to you and your new baby sister and just had no clue what I was doing. You were so sweet to your sister, such a good, good helper to me.

I wish I had new videos of you and new pictures of you. I see your friends changing and growing up and I wonder what you would be like now. I know I’ll only ever know you in your little 2.5 year old body, but I feel like these days your spirit seems wiser or older somehow.  I’m so happy that last year you had such a good time in the backyard for your birthday party. I know that you had no idea what was going on but you were so so happy – Dad carrying you on his shoulders through the sprinklers and your half-smile in amazement as everyone sang you Happy Birthday. And kai birthday surprise 2013then THE best face you made when you realized what a present was and you opened Uncle Richard’s present and saw the dump truck and it was like the most amazing thing ever and you shrieked in such excitement. I want to imagine that when you took your first breath and opened your eyes in Heaven the joy and excitement and love you must have felt were infinitely beyond what you experienced here and your face lit up more than it did that day. And that’s all I ever wanted for you – to know you were loved by us, know how to love, and know that God is taking care of you always and you are safe and secure no matter what. Kai, we will always be here with you here and always celebrate you. I will always miss you and I think I will only be missing you more and more as the days go by – I can’t even imagine more of your birthdays passing by without you here. But we celebrate you today Kai – did you see the balloons? Did you hear your friends shout Happy Birthday? We love you so much Kai – you gave so much to us. And your sister – this morning, I picked her up from her bed to feed her and she was absolutely insistent that we look at your picture before she ate. I don’t know if you see her do this every morning – but you’re still being such a good big brother to her. I love you Kai, so so much. I don’t know what to say to express it, but I’ll ask God to let you know – I know He can tell you perfectly. Happy, happy birthday Kai. I’m so thankful to celebrate three years of knowing and loving you. mmmmm-waaaa!

Is this real?

These days I often find myself asking questions like ….wait, what just happened?!?!…..Is this real? Is this my life?…. I had a son, a little boy named Kai, right? And he slept in this house and he ate in that chair, and he talked to me and laughed with me and threw tantrums and refused naps and giggled and played…. Right? I carried him in my belly and felt him kick and squirm in there, and he was born and rocked our worlds…….. right? And then, I start thinking about when he got sick….the first time he had a weird episode that we now know was the cancer…. Never in my mind would I have thought it was cancer. How could we know? Should we have known? I honestly don’t think there’s any way we could have known. He was so resilient and darn it kids are always sick so we thought it was just a stomach bug or that he was randomly throwing up because he just did seven forward rolls, a spin jump off the couch, had his dad swing him around in circles upside down…. all after eating like 3 servings of dinner. Anyone would throw up after that…. Wouldn’t they?

It all seems so unreal. A number of days I feel like I’m watching myself go through my day. I am not trying to be, nor do I think I’m being fake – I never, ever want to be fake about this.But, I feel kind of split in two. I think there’s part of me doing well and living the “new normal”, while at the same time, having a very real, very present grieving side is, but I admit it’s such a weird feeling – seeing myself do things and interact and it is all real and is good but then having this part of me inside that is just sobbing and grieving and still trying to comprehend the fact that…. he died.

Is this for real?

Please…. No…..Please.

Tell me this is an awful, terrible, horrible dream.

Is this for real?



There was a little boy named Kai and he did get sick with ATRT and he passed away.


There was a little boy named Kai, and in June of 2011 Shawn and I were given the utmost privilege to become his parents. And he did rock our worlds…. He still continues to do so. And he was real – his life, his joy, his ups and downs, the amazing-ness of it all, was and is real. Oh how I wish he was still here with us, I miss him with every ounce of my being and I want him to be real here on earth still. But he is – in my heart, in your hearts.

And God has blessed us with little Maya who is this amazing little person we’re starting to see emerge and has her own quirkiness and resilience…. And she reminds us, Kai Kai is real because when we love her we realize how in this crazy unknown way our hearts have grown so much through their two lives — with love of the same unconditional amount, but love for each of them in such different ways for the different people they are.

So I always do come back to the fact that yes, this is real – the pain, the longing, the events that unfolded. But this love for our son is real. And it was created by God and it is stronger and everlasting and will redeem this pain that is so real to us at this moment.

The picture I wanted to share today was a gift to me one day while I was really missing my little boy. I loved taking Kai on walks, we’ve always done that – as a newborn it’s the only way we could get him to sleep and as a toddler it was our time to go take a look outside (and for momma to get some exercise!). Now Maya is in that seat…. And, well it turns out that making yourself comfortable while riding in the stroller is something these two siblings share.  Maya and Kai stroller pic

New Life

On April 21, we were given the honor and privilege to witness the 2014 Boston Marathon and cheer on our good friend Amanda as she ran the race in honor of Kai. As we all know, this race was way more than just a race – it was for redemption of a community; celebrating and honoring those who lost their lives; showing bravery and courage in the face of fear and giving a clear message that Love WINS. New life is here. We have all come together for this race.

I have been part of race crowds before, but this was like no other. We saw the injured – coming back, a different normal, but still standing. I wanted to ask every runner to tell me why they were running and where they came from. We saw Team Hoyt, the father who has pushed his son through over 1,100 different races in over 30 years, witnessing the amazing beauty of a father’s love for his son and desire to honor those who were hurt in last year’s bombing by running their final Boston Marathon. For every mile of this course people were lined up cheering and helping the runners along. And when we got to see Amanda and saw her strength and amazing joy it was absolutely thrilling. Amanda is one amazing person (not to mention stinkin’ speedy and such an athlete) and we were completely humbled that she would be running in honor of Kai and so thankful to be able to be there with her.

We were also given the honor and privilege to spend the Easter weekend with Shawn’s family. This was a a very special time to have together, but also bittersweet because Kai’s absence (and significant addition of volume and chaos) was clearly evident to us. However, we saw how Maya completely lit up when she saw her cousins and the clingy-ness she has been showing to Shawn and I lately, was immediately gone when they were around her. We’ve realized now that whether Maya understands or not, she is missing her brother. At the church service we were reminded of the New Life that Jesus promises. There was a beautiful spoken word presentation given and I admit it, I was bawling – I knew, absolutely knew, in that moment that Kai is there enjoying his new life in heaven, but my heart hurt so badly in missing him here in this life. But, this is grief amidst love and I know it’s ok.

When we were walking to meet Amanda to celebrate the race, we heard so many people thanking the runners. “Thank you for coming back”, “Thank you for running” “Thank you for helping our city”. Together those from Boston and from all over the world came together to bring the city its new life from tragedy.

Forever changed, still grieving, but amidst love and with hope for New Life.

April 21 also marked one month since Kai passed – time is a weird thing to me lately but this hit me harder than I imagined it would. However, April 21 also marked the beginning of a new life with the birth of my good friend’s son who was brought into the world also on April 21st. In honor of the new little munchkin, I thought I’d post a picture of a Kai when he first came into our lives. He looks a bit crazy and definitely doesn’t match (totally my fault), but I just love this picture so so much.

Kai just 2 days old
Kai at just 2 days old



One Week

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.