“Accept the good. One day at a time.”
Our daughter Hailey passed away less than 24 hours after being diagnosed with Type One Diabetes, while traveling overseas on a family vacation. In her case, she wasn’t misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. She was diagnosed too late…
Because none of us knew.
We didn’t know that her increased thirst just a couple weeks before our trip, was one of the most common signs of this disease. She had just joined a running club at school & we thought that was the reason she was drinking more water.
We didn’t know that weight loss was another symptom. We thought the running at school & the exercising at home was the cause for her looking slimmer. We didn’t worry because Hailey was always slim & in the recent months she had a few growth spurts. We knew she was growing up to be tall, just like her Daddy.
We had no idea….that instead our baby girl’s body was being consumed by this monster of a disease called Type One Diabetes.
We knew of the diabetes that everyone else knows about; Type 2. But we would of never thought. After all, Type 2 is always related to being overweight & Hailey was always the slimmest of her sisters.
We didn’t know that the plane ride & trip would make her sicker. We didn’t know that by the time we landed in La Paz, Bolivia- a city over 11,000 feet; she was already showing symptoms of DKA- diabetic ketoacidosis.
We thought it was altitude sickness, which is very common in La Paz. We were aware of that going in. When she vomited once & complained of a tummy & a headache– we told her that it was going to be ok; that she’d be better in a couple of days, once her body adjusted to the altitude.
But she never adjusted….
Our precious, beautiful, innocent baby girl was in a coma just two days after. Then she passed away from complications of DKA & cerebral edema on the third day of our trip.
Just like that, she was gone.
No parent or other human being should ever have to endure this kind of pain.
No one should ever have to live through this kind of nightmare. No one should live with: If only we knew, if only we could turn back time, if only we hadn’t travelled, what if, why, why, why?
I don’t wish it on my worst enemy, which can now only be this disease that took our baby girl. In learning more about it, we have learned one harsh fact. That is:
Even knowing what we know now, we might of lost her anyway.
Why? Because there have been & still are children & adults being either misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Even here, in the U.S.A.
Symptoms are being mistaken for other illness; such as the flu…
Children are dying. Other beautiful children have lost their precious lives after Hailey, because of this terrible disease.
I know this because I’ve met & talked to their parents in person & online. This is not made-up. This is real & it keeps happening & it’s heartbreaking each time.
How many more lives will it take?
I lived with guilt many months after losing our baby girl.
I thought how could I have not known? How could I have missed this? Why didn’t I pay better attention?
It’s taken my angel, my other two beautiful daughters, my husband, my family, friends & a higher power to show me that I shouldn’t blame myself. That in fact, there is no one person or thing to blame. Not God, not myself, or doctors, or the world…
The hardest lesson to learn was; we really don’t know what could of happened if it had played out any other way & we can’t change what happened.
We can’t change it for us, but maybe we can change it for someone else.
Maybe we can become a voice for Hailey & in her memory, tell others about Type One Diabetes. We can tell parents, teachers, nurses, doctors, & children themselves…everyone.
We can tell them that this deadly disease exists & it is on the rise & that it should not be overlooked! Not by anyone.
So please share. Please educate. Please test. Don’t overlook T1D.
In memory of Hailey & all others who lost their lives to this disease.
Don’t let it be too late for you or anyone. Don’t guess.
Because…it’s better to know than not to know.
Bella wrote this note to her sister just a few hours after Hailey passed away, using my cell phone:
The first time I read it, it broke my heart yet again, into a million little pieces. But I saved it anyway. To this day, it’s still there.
Every now & then I will look at it & remember. Remember the pain & the heartache. But the love too. The sweet words from one sister & best friend to another.
It also encouraged me to start writing letters to Hailey & I have been doing so for over a year now.
How do we stop communicating to our loved ones after death?
We can’t. Just like we can’t stop loving them…
They are always with us, in our thoughts & prayers. Embedded in our hearts & our DNA.
We always remember.
The Darkest Days
Dark are the days
Since my sunshine was taken away
Upon my darkest hours
Is when I don’t see a future without her
Wondering what the point is
Of living this life with no bliss
Feeling like faith has betrayed me
Leaving me with only memories
Of what used to be
Dark are the days
Missing the love I knew
Searching for her in everything
That is beautiful, pure & true
Not a day goes by
That I bow my head down & cry
Missing our sweet angel
That now flies through the sky
Even on the darkest days
We go on & put on a show
Pretending everything’s alright
It’s better that no one know
Dark are the days
When we realize with words unspoken
Nothing will bring her back
And our hearts will remain forever broken
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the phrases, “You are so strong.” “You’re the strongest person I know.” or “Keep strong.” Not only after my daughter’s passing, but throughout my life in general.
I’ve never known how to respond to that. How do you respond after all, when it’s the last thing you feel? I’ve often wondered what the real meaning of strength is. Is it just passing life’s constant tests, trials & tribulations- the 3 T’s? Do you have to pass in flying colors, or does just barely count?
When our beautiful girl passed while visiting my mom in Bolivia, we were surrounded by immediate & not-so immediate family members on my mom’s side. Family members & friends that I’ve only met & seen less than a handful of times throughout my life, only because they live several thousands of miles away. The only real bond & connection we had, is that we are family. But that is all they needed to carry us through that first week of hell.
From day one at the hospital, they never left our side. They arranged for all the services afterwards & help with bringing our baby girl home. Thanks to them we survived those first few days.
Coming back home on a late flight, our family here was waiting for us at the airport. Just passed the gates, we arrived to our loved ones waiting with open arms, waiting to take us in, hold us & protect us. Exactly what we needed.
Our first night home, on the steps of our house there were flowers, cards & balloons of sympathy from family & friends. Not only ours, but Hailey’s too. Heartbreaking, but sweet.
From then on again, it was the support of our amazing family, friends, co-workers & the community we live in that made it bearable to breathe, in this new world of pain we were living in.
We were flooded with calls, texts, emails, cards, home visits, food, & offers for help in any way. My sister & a friend set up a fundraising page to help with the medical & funeral expenses. It was amazing how many people- out of the kindness of their hearts, donated. People we knew & didn’t know, or who just knew Hailey. Tears poured as I read all the messages, specially of the ones remembering our daughter. “Hailey was a beautiful girl inside & out. She was always smiling. She was so sweet. She will never be forgotten.” etc, etc.
For as long as I live, I will never forget.
During the beautiful memorial service or Celebration of Life, arranged by our wonderful family also, we gathered again with loved ones & friends. So many that just came to tell us how much Hailey meant to them.
For as long as I live, I will never forget…
What is strength?
Strength is when Hailey’s sisters & cousins volunteered to read hymns during the memorial mass in front of so many people & were able to do it beautifully….
Strength is when Hailey’s little sister Bella wrote a letter to her sister, to read at the burial service in front of family & did it beautifully…
I hope they will remember that always, specially in the future, when grief makes its surprise visits. I hope that in return, by remembering, it will give them back some of that same amazing strength it took to stand there & demonstrate that simple act of love for their sister.
I know it does for me & as long as I live, I will never forget.
The truth is we don’t feel strong at all, but we know we have to be.
We are only still standing, because we are all leaning on one another.
We’ve only made if this far, because of all the wonderful people in our lives.
We are forever grateful, because we know not everyone is this lucky.
We are all still here, because of our love for daughters. All 3 of them.
In times of grief, when the darkness threatens to swallow us whole, I think about all the others waiting in the light. Watching & waiting to pull us out, without even having to ask. Maybe, this is what keeps us strong.
Perhaps, that is what strength is. The ability to accept help of others, with the knowledge that there is a light…somewhere in the midst of all the dark.
: the quality or state of being physically strong
: the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force
: the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way
Letter to our Hailey:
“You are who you are, and you are what you are supposed to be.” H.A.E
You were just six years old when you said this out loud one day. I thought it was such a clever thing to say; something from the “out of the mouth of babes” category. Of course I had to share it on Facebook like most- my favorite place to share all the details of our lives. Specially anything to do with you & your sisters.
Funny quotes, sweet pictures, school events, family vacations…the list goes on. So many memories. It’s all there.
Looking back, I can clearly hear the annoyance in your voices & see the rolling of the eyes, “Mommy are you posting that on Facebook!?”
Why yes, yes I am.
Almost 6 years later, memories is all that I have left of you.
I can’t be thankful enough that I was one of those cheesy moms who took so many pictures. That proud cheesy mom who posted every note, card & quote. I don’t think I would of remembered it all.
Specially now, that everything is still a big blur. It’s been a year since you’ve been gone from us & we are still trying to make sense of it all.
You are who you are & you are what you are supposed to be?
Who are we now that you are gone? Where did you go? Was this the way it was supposed to be?
The only promise we can make, is that we will try & honor your life the best way we can. Our sweet Hailey.
This is a start.
We love & miss you. Every single minute of every single day.
Fly high, our Haileyfly.