A Single Step

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Saturday marked the 4 month anniversary of when we lost my baby brother, Lee.  Nine months prior to that he had been diagnosed with viral congestive heart failure, and that diagnosis started me and my family on a journey.  It was a journey of knowledge, of discovery, and of love.  It was a journey that frequently left us with more questions than answers and with tears of joy, frustration and eventually, of loss.

There were days when things looked wonderful – when we knew that all was going to be okay – and then came the day when we realized that things would never be the same again.

One foot in front of the other and continue on with the journey.

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An important reminder to enjoy the path.

This weekend I literally put one foot in front of the other as I continued on my journey.  My family participated in the American Heart Association’s Annual Heart Walk.  There was no greater way to physically represent this journey than to walk a mile on behalf of my brother.

Let me stop a moment and give a huge THANK YOU to those that contributed to my fund raising efforts.  There were times that I was stunned when I would get an email telling me who made a contribution.  I tried not to have any hopes or expectations, but I figured that a couple of my friends would break down; imagine my surprise when I had friends and family members that I did not expect stepping up to the plate.  I struggle to fund raise, always have, and this was not different.  My jaw dropped when I hit $100, my mind was blown when I hit $200 and I was near tears at the generosity of my friends and family when I hit $275!!  I have thanked each of you individually; however, I’m sure my words were inadequate. I can’t express to each of you how much I truly appreciated your generosity.  An unexpected side benefit was that I got to know a little bit more about some of you, as you shared your story with me and the fact that you opened your heart in addition to your wallet gave me great comfort.  Again, thank you.

Back to my journey!  Friday night the family gathered at my parents house and we had dinner and picked up our shirts for the heart walk.  We were walking with the local hospital, at which my mom works, and she had picked up our shirts and taken them home and customized them for us.

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Our customized shirts!

Saturday, very bright and very early, we were up and on our way downtown to the Stockyards.

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Go Team Lee! 🙂

From L-R: Mom, me, Roshonda holding Bella with her sons in front of and behind her, Amy holding Joshua, Dad, Sam, Mr. T, friends of Jayman and Samantha and ending with Jayman (not releasing names of the minors that I don’t have permission to!)

Before the walk started it was amazing to have people from the hospital come up to us and stop to talk about Lee.  We might not have recognized each other, but they knew who Lee was.  I had one nurse bring me to tears as she told us how much she enjoyed getting to know him while he was in the hospital.  It was a very blessed moment.

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Joshua enjoying the bounce house before we walked.

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Jayman and Samantha and their friends.

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Selfie before the race with Mr. T

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Starting line!

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My view for most of the race – 🙂

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My partners. Bella is already asleep!

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Mr. T crossing the finish line.

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Me crossing the finish line – obviously I had a hard time getting me and the finish line in the frame!

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We finished the race! We earned these muscles! And yes, that’s dad throwing up bunny ears, because we don’t grow up in our family – a thought that pleases me greatly!

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I found a train for Joshua to ride after the race – he loved it!

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Sweet! Our walk was recognized 🙂

And thus ends this chapter on my journey.  Thank you to all of those who have walked with me, mentally, emotionally and physically.  Even if I haven’t mentioned it – the support has been noticed and appreciated!

As this new chapter starts I look forward to you being there with me and I am so blessed to be part of your journey, too.

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Text Message From my Dead Brother

I know, I know, it sounds morbid.  Just stick with me for a minute.

One thing you should know about me is that I tend to save some text messages.  Some are funny, some are touching, some are for reference and some are just sentimental.  Just like at home where I tend to toss or donate a lot, I try not to be an electronic hoarder (hello, that’s why I have Pinterest!), so I will go through every couple of days and clean out my messages.

Last night Mr. T was sitting next to me doing his homework and since I didn’t want the TV on distracting him, I’d been playing on my phone, which can easily keep me busy for an hour or more! I checked Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Word Press.  All caught up on my social media I moved on to my text messages and began going through and deleting recent messages that I didn’t feel the need to keep.  I was making great progress and then I hit the bottom of my page.

A text message from Lee.

Let me tell you about this text message.  We had let go of Lee earlier in the day and we were all there as he transitioned peacefully to Heaven.  After we got home from the hospital there was so much to deal with – as a reminder, the back bedrooms had flooded a few days before and I was making arrangements for the floor to be checked and the massive fans and dehumidifiers to be picked up, and then the task of moving all of the furniture and items back into the bedrooms and closets.  I was also contacting mom and dad’s cleaning lady and their yard guy to come by and help get things in order in anticipation of guests coming by to offer condolences and then the family arriving before and after the service.

By the time I got home that evening I was mentally and physically exhausted and I had no sooner crawled into bed when my phone went off signaling a text message.  I picked up my phone and it was a blank message from my recently deceased brother!!

Look – see that empty bubble?  What would you think if you got a BLANK MESSAGE?!?  Naturally, after I ruled out electrical phenomenon associated with spirits trying to communicate with me, I figured my parents had his phone.

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Like I would be able to sleep after getting this!

You can see what I replied! Shortly after my reply back to them, here is what came through:

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Okay, that’s better!

You can see that there were texting me a picture to email my sister who was putting together the tribute video for the service, and pictures take longer to transmit, so it came through after the blank message did.  It wasn’t my brothers spirit trying to connect with me, and well, I’m not sure if I’m relieved or disappointed!

The next day I was telling dad about my reaction and he goes “I told your mom it would freak you out.”  I had to whip out my phone and show him how it came across and the blank message that was the first to hit.  Again, how am I supposed to NOT freak out over that? We all got a good laugh out of it!  I told them I sat there and stared at my phone for several seconds while my brain tried to process it all before reality set in and I realized what was happening… And then getting the rest of the message made more sense!

So, needless to say, I still have the text message from my dead brother and I think I’ll hoard that one just a little bit longer!

Tomorrow is the Heart Walk and our family will walk united in memory of Lee.  And while I’d love a sign from him, I’m just as happy if it doesn’t come in the form of a text message!

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Kate’s Heart Walk Donation Page

American Heart Walk and Brothers and Sisters

In a few days I am participating in the Heart Walk – today mom sent us the map of the path we will take.  I noted the important things – like where along the route I can get a water bottle!

After today I won’t bring it up again, but here is the link if you are interested in making a donation to the American Heart Walk.  As you know, this cause is very near and dear to my, well, my heart!  There is no way to know when my brother contracted the infection that caused his heart failure; however, the information we were given as we went through the process was invaluable.  The money raised helps go towards education and research and every $25 donation helps!

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Kate’s Heart Walk Page

Now, for your viewing pleasure, here is a blog that Looking Inward with Lily wrote for me one a day that I was really struggling with the passing of my brother.  It’s beyond beautiful.  Brother and Sister.

P.S. I won’t bring up fundraising, but I plan to share pictures and stories from the walk itself! 🙂  Happy Wednesday Everyone!

American Heart Walk and A Mechanical Heart

As a reminder, I am doing fundraising for the American Heart Association as part of the Heart Walk in which my family is participating in memory of my brother, Lee.

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You can donate here: AHW Kate’s Page.  Thank you in advance for your consideration.  You can donate as little as $25 on line and I know times are tight; however, below is a link to when Lee got his mechanical heart.  Some of you who were with me during my journey have read this; however, now you can read it again with the perspective of all the good the American Heart Association can do!

For those that haven’t read it, you get to learn all about how a mechanical heart works!  Please read A Mechanical Heart here and feel free to let me know if you have any questions or comments!

Again, thank you so much for your help, every donation helps.

In Memory of Lee: Heart Walk

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As most of you know, I lost my baby brother to heart disease earlier this year.  Most of you were there with me through this journey and I can’t thank you enough for for all of the support you gave me and for putting up with all of the medical terms I tossed your way!

My family and I are participating in the American Heart Association Heart Walk this year and our shirts have been modified to say that we are walking in memory of Lee.  Part of this is the fundraising effort.  The funds that are raised support projects that put up to the minute research into the doctors hands so they can better prevent and treat heart disease; groundbreaking pediatric heart and stroke research as approximately 36,000 babies are born with heart defects each year and research is the key to saving babies lives; and getting life-saving information to those who need it the most – information that can save a life, like how to eat better, how to recognize the warning signs of a heart attack and how to talk to a doctor about critical health choices.

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Little Lee – so strong!

I won’t single you out whether you donate or you choose not to.  This is a personal decision that only you can make – I am just here to give you the opportunity to participate and help if you want.

Donations can be made on-line for as little as $25.  I know that times are tough, but if you can see it in your heart to donate, I’d greatly appreciate it.  Please help me fund research so that no one else has to travel the path that I’ve been on.

For more information or to donate, please click here: AHA Kate’s Page.  Thank you in advance for your support, it is appreciated.

Last picture of Lee and I together.

Last picture of Lee and I together.

As always, if you missed out on the journey with me, you can go back and read the blogs – starting with my favorite one of all times: Then He Kissed the Back of My Hand