No journey can begin in darkness. No direction can be found without guidance. And in the beginning, after she was told her life would end, she was completely and utterly lost. Not only would she have to heal from a major surgery that would take up to three months to heal, she would also have to battle terminal cancer with a prognosis of only six months to live. How could anyone reconcile that when just weeks before she believed she was a healthy mother, wife and daughter. Of course she was lost. And she remained lost for many weeks, unsure of what path to take towards healing, or if there was any paths open to her at all. But I knew my wife, and I knew the fighter that lived within her, and I prayed that she could rekindle that spirit. But weeks came and went, and while her body healed its wounds and relearned how to nourish itself, she remained broken of mind and spirit. The holiday season was approaching and I feared that she wouldn't find the resolve to fight this battle. It finally changed one evening, during a visit with her mother, that after another day of struggles with nausea, vomiting, pain and depression, that Debi took her to church so she could pray for strength. I never learned exactly what happened that evening at church, but she returned a different person. She still had fears to overcome and battles to begin, but from that moment on she turned a corner and a big part of the Krissy we knew finally returned to us.
Krissy knew from the beginning that traditional cancer treatment was not her salvation. Chemo, at it's best, was only promised to gain her a few additional months of life with a much reduced quality of living. Prolonging the inevitable was the best they could offer, at a cost of hair loss, vomiting and excruciating pain. So she sought every alternative method of healing that could be found. But both mind and body had to be healed, so in addition to the natural treatments and supplements she would try she also needed care for her spirit. This was found in the amazing Paula Robbins, introduced to us via Aunt Connie. Paula was integral to Krissy's early battle to regaining her will and determination. I'm going to be intentionally vague and ignorant of the actual process that Paula employed with Krissy, as it was highly personal and emotionally difficult for Krissy to endure, so I did all I could do to support her and let her take this portion of the journey by herself. But after each session she was stronger and I could tell that her soul was mending, bit by bit. Paula taught Krissy how to look within herself and to find the damage that was being done and to understand how to use it to heal instead of hurt. Even after their sessions together ended, Krissy would employ what she learned to continue to understand the turn her life had taken.
However, understanding comes at a price. And sometimes even things we learn about ourselves cost more than we care to imagine. My personal belief is that this is what Krissy learned one day as she reflected upon her cancer and why she was suffering so greatly. She had learned to enter a very deep state of reflection as she meditated on these questions. One afternoon, besought by depression and confusion, she sat alone and asked "Why is this happening to me?"again and again, as she sunk further into her meditations. And as she asked and prayed, this is what she told me she saw.
Our youngest daughter, Camryn, did not have the easiest beginning to her life. Before she was born we discovered she had a hole in her heart. At three months old she contracted a nearly fatal kidney infection, which recurred just two months later. After constant eye infections due to a blocked tear duct she finally had surgery to clear it up, and by this time we'd had our fill of seeing her poked and prodded by doctors. As a parent, it's one of the most helpless feelings in the world. You would do anything to make them better. And on that afternoon as Krissy meditated on her own illness, it was Camryn that came to her in that vision. Only two years old at the time, and at daycare, appeared to her.
Krissy described the experience she had that afternoon to me only once, but I will never forget it. Camryn, who should have been napping at the time, appeared before Krissy in her vision and cried out "Hi Mommy!" Krissy spoke back to her, and they had the regular two-year old version of "how was your day" until Krissy began to ask her what she was going. Cam would only reply, "I love you Mommy, I'm ok Mommy." Several more times Cam assured her that she was ok, and that she loved her, before she turned and waved and said "Bye Mommy, I have to go now, I love you!" And at this point Krissy came out of her meditation in tears, but finally assured that she had received the answer to the question she'd been asking for months: why is this happening to me? And for Kris, the answer was clear, she'd asked God to allow her to take away her baby's pain and suffering and ills and to let her take them on herself, and whether or not she could bear the burden and survive, this was what had been done. She had given what any parent believed they would, she had given her life for the health of her child's. And Camryn knew it, and told her everything was ok now, thanks to her mother's love.
I don't know God's plan. I don't claim to understand Him, or how he works in our lives, or if he would even do such a thing. But, Kris believed this was her bargain to ensure that her baby could live happy and healthy and on some level she accepted that. She still agonized over her cancer and the pain and remained resolved to do everything she could to beat the disease, but I think she found some peace in what she saw that day. I still don't know how I truly feel about it, but it's haunted me ever since, and in my own struggle to understand the how's and why's of Krissy's death it's the only thing I can anchor my sanity onto. If my wife had to die, if I had to lose her so quickly and early in our lives, does the fact she died to protect our child make it alright? I don't know, but I can accept it based on the fact that I would have done the same thing and had even asked for as much in my own prayers, just as I had asked God to let me take on Krissy's sickness. I think anyone who knows real love would do the same.
I know there are those that may not believe that God would work in such a way, or that this has anything to do with why Krissy had cancer and died from it. I question it every single day. All I can say is that I have two beautiful girls left as a legacy of the wonderful person that Krissy was. Camryn has barely had so much as a cold since that day, and even when everyone in the house is knocked out with a cold or the flu, Cam is rarely affected. She's rolled down a flight of stairs without a scratch. Every day I wonder if her mother's protection is real, that she must truly be her guardian angel. It's a comforting thought in a time when I can still find little comfort in her loss. Every parent would give their own life for their child's, but if ever presented with this challenge I doubt many could face it with as much courage as Krissy did.