It has been a long and busy week getting ready for the Kai filled day we had on Saturday!
First on the agenda:
Kai’s Village Holiday Market
fundraiser in support of Kai, Sherry’s House and the Jimmy Fund.
The event was a HUGE success! I still can not get over what our community was able to put together in a matter of weeks. Their desire to help sparked a fire that spread fast. The place was packed from morning till night with shoppers, volunteers, performers, vendors and friends.
I planned on stopping by early in the morning, figuring I could drop off a few things and get in and out before too many people showed up. I wasn’t sure I was ready to face it all. I wasn’t sure I could keep myself together in front of all of these people ho have grown so close. I wasn’t sure I could handle the hugs and love from all of these strangers that have become friends because of Kai’s story. I figured I would just lay low, slip in and out and no one would really notice.
I should have realized there were a few obviously problems with this plan: First- I LOVE craft fairs! Second- It’s hard for me not to get involved 😉 I felt like I could help, so I did. Third- that room was filled with so much life and love, there was really no place I would have rather been!
Since Kai’s passing I have struggled with the thought that I can’t really FEEL him. I have been trying so hard to connect with him, sense his presence, see some kind of sign that he is around me. I have been looking in places that I never thought I would, but Saturday it was all right there in front of me.
His presence filled that room. I saw Kai in every child and every parent. I felt him in the eyes of the countless volunteers and vendors who dedicated weeks of their lives to our cause. I felt him with every hug I received from a friend or stranger, and every tear that was shed in his memory. I needed that, all of it. I needed to be a part of it. I needed to feel like I could help. I needed to show my love and support for all those amazing people who have been supporting us. I needed the hugs and love from strangers, and even the tears. I needed to be in that room that was SO OBVIOUSLY filled with Kai’s presence.
Kai’s followed me everywhere that day.
After finally leaving the market around noon I was off to prepare for Kai’s Celebration of Life Party.
Wow what an amazing night. I spent all week agonizing over what to plan for this day. I wanted it to be fun and festive and happy, but i also needed it to be a time and a place where we, as a family, could mourn our loss and share our memories. I really struggled with this for days after Kai passed. No matter what I came up with I never felt it would be enough.
Along the way I was given words of wisdom by a few different people: Hold in at a place that Kai loved. Do the things that he enjoyed. Allow people the time and space to share their stories and memories. Don’t spend to much time trying to figure it out, it will unfold just as it is supposed to. It will never be enough…
So I tried to relax. I thought about the places Kai loved and the things he loved to do. I thought about here we could honor him and celebrate him and remember him.
Kai’s Celebration fo Life Party
was held at the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center in Hopkington, MA
Saturday December 8, 2012 @ 5p.m.
Kai only started going to the respite center in september but i knew from the moment I walked threw those doors that this was a place I would hold close to my heart forever. The house itself is gorgeous and their mission is even more beautiful.
…Respite Center has helped hundreds of families, and continues to grow each year. Many see the house as Michael’s legacy, but we believe that the true legacy of Michael is the love and care you find in our home. As each year passes, the sweetness of Michael’s memories grow, and the lessons he taught become clearer.
There is nothing but love and dedication in this home and you can feel Michaels love in every room. I wanted to share this love with our family and friends. Knowing Kai is now off somewhere playing with Michael, it just felt right to hold his celebration here. After much hesitation I asked and of course they went above and beoynd (as they always do) to make it happen for us.
The night was everything I hoped it would be.
They light a fire in the fireplace for us and we ate and laughed and visited. Then we gathered to watch a beautiful slideshow of Kai’s life that Mark had put together. It is so amazing the power of photographs and music. Watching Kai’s life chronicled on a screen made us all laugh and cry and remember the good times. I have been looking at all of these photographs the past few weeks for different projects but it was not until that moment that I really allowed myself to see them. I could see his smile again. I could see the things he was once able to do that I had forgotten. I watched his journey from beginning to end, filled with love… and it was beautiful. It was what every mother hopes their child’s life will be. I could feel my heart fill a whole lifetime of memories from just two years of life.
This was Kai’s life. This was my life, and those two years were so full. I will cherish every moment, every photograph and every memory. We all had so much heartach through it all, wishing for a better life for Kai but Kai smiled and that is what I will remember.
After the slideshow people were encouraged to share some personal stories and memories of Kai, or write them on a paper to be placed on his memory tree. I will forever remember every last word that was said about Kai that night. His family talked about what made Kai, Kai. How he loved to be close and warm, preferably with his hand down your shirt. They talked of the times they cared for him and how forgiving of us he was when we didn’t do things exactly right. They talked of his super powers and his reach near and far. We told his story, the good times and the devastatingly hard times. We talked of how we are all forever different because of him. It was beautiful and sad and exactly what I needed. Kai filled that room that night, as he had all day for me. He held us. He brought all of these people together and gave me the opportunity to cry and laugh. He surrounded me with his spirit and I felt him. I could not have asked for a more clear sign that he was with me that day. I could not have asked for a better memorial for my baby boy.
Once the stories winded down and our tear began to dry we moved back into the kitchen and celebrated his love of ice cream with a home made ice cream bar, vanilla, chocolate and Kai’s favorite black-raspberry! Laughter and life filled the house once again.
I wasn’t sure how I would ever say good bye to my baby boy…but after spending this day surrounded by his love and the love and light he has given to so many others, I realized maybe I don’t have to. His life is now mine and mine his. I am forever changed by these two years and 7 weeks we spent together and i don’t ever have to let that go. He spirit, his mission, his love and little laugh and light is a part of me forever.
Amazingly, as we spent our night remembering Kai here at the respite center, there were two other events in two other states also remembering Kai that night.
This weekend happened to be the winter session brain tumor weekend up at Camp Sunshine. Camp is another amazing, inspiring place that will always hold a place in my heart. We have made many friends at camp. Friends who know our lives better than most. Friends who think of us when their own kids are struggling. Friends who I will never forget. That’s just how brain tumor camp is and while I know there were many up there this weekend who wished they could have been in two places at once, it gave me comfort to knowing they were together together at camp remembering Kai. Telling his story and sending us love.
Cancer took the lives of several of our camp friends this year, as it sadly does every year, and this weekend our friends took time out to honor our little ones as they would their own.
Here are a few pictures that were shared with me from the memorial they held for Kai, Avalanna, Will, Isabella, Ali and Drew.
AND the same night, all the way in Florida, a friend’s family was holding their first Alex’s Lemonade Stand in honor of Kai!
Liz and I were introduced by a mutual friend when both our boys were diagnosed last year. Liz’s little Viking Patrick was diagnosed with a Wilm’s tumor. He has had surgeries and has been in treatment the past year and a half, just like Kai. Patricks last scan declared that he is IN REMISSION!!!! We have kept up with eachother along the way and I am so honored that in the midst of thier own fight, Liz and her family have found the time to raise funds for pediatric cancer research in Kai’s name!
Thank you Edwards family, you are always in my thoughts. xoxo