Tuesday, November 20, 2007
we had paid more attention to the signs that Kaitlyn was using again -- maybe she would still be here
If only ....
I had not gone away that fateful weekend -- maybe I would have tested her sooner and she would still be here
we had never moved to Texas and stayed in Louisiana -- she may not have ever started using drugs in the first place and she would still be here
she had not decided she needed to get high one more time -- she would still be here.
IF ONLY - I could go back to Aug 26, 2006 and know what I know now she would still be here
If only I could make my heart stop hurting so bad that sometimes I really feel like I will not be able to get through the day -- but I do because I have to.
If only Kaitlyn was here today getting ready to head to Louisana to spend time with family for Thanksgiving --
If only does not come around a lot thank goodness because when it does it drives me crazy --
We are beginning our second holiday season with out Kaitlyn and I wish I could say it is better this year but it is not because now we are expected to be better -- we have gone through the "first" of everythings but I think this one is harder for both Jon and I because we don't have the shock factor anymore -- it hits us smack in the face -- she is not here -- and we think IF ONLY...
We love you Kaitlyn
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I just wanted to say Thank You to all of you for letting me talk about Kaitlyn ALL the time and not rolling your eyes or asking me when I was going to get on with my life. Thank you for letting me cry when I need to even though "it is been over a year". Thank you for still being my friend and including me even though "it is hard to know what to say to me now" Thank you for going through this WITH me and not just watching from the sidelines --
All of the statements in quotes were things that were told to other parents at the meeting and it just blew me away that their friends and even some of their family said these things to them. It made Jon and I realize that we are truely blessed to have the support of awesome people in our lifes that have made this past year OK for us.
So to all of our friends and family --THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for letting us continue to grieve our baby girl and being there when we so desperately needed you.
Monday, August 20, 2007
That comment made me cry and got me to thinking -- I don't consider myself a hero -- I don't consider myself strong either --
I am just a mom who is doing what she can to make sure her daughter is remembered for the wonderful person she was -- and to make sure that people understand that this is in our back yards -- it is not somewhere else or happening to other people -- it is effecting families that we know, people we go to church with, your next door neighbor.
I am just a mom that does not want to see teens waste their lives for a few minutes of getting high, I am just a mom that does not want to meet another mom that knows exactly how I feel -- that gets the looks when we tell them how our children died. I am just a mom that is doing this because it is all I have left to do for Kaitlyn.
I am just a mom who cries everyday for what could have been and for what is -- many days I just don't want to get out of bed --
So no I am not a hero -- I am just a mom who is loves BOTH of her kids with all of my heart.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
It has been awhile since I got my email and I have been busy helping Jeremy get ready for his big move to Baton Rouge this weekend so I haven't really noticed the lack of email -- today for some reason I am needing to "hear" from her -- so "Baby Girl -- I need to hear from you" -- hopefully she is listening and I wake up tomorrow with an email from unknown sender -- or what I like to call "Hi MOM !!!"
Monday, May 21, 2007
We are moving out of offices this week and we are in the middle of cleaning up seven years of stuff -- while going through one of my old message pads I came across this priceless message:
I LOVE YOU too Kaitlyn -- I just miss her so much.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I have been trying to organize our office for a couple of months. I have been doing a little every night for the past week. Tonight I took down Kaitlyn's computer -- I never thought that something so simple would be so hard -- I have been crying the whole time I have been moving it -- it makes it seem so real (like her not being here for the past 8 months hasn't been real) -- this is the first thing of hers that we do something with -- I cannot begin to think what it will be like when I go through her room. I miss her so much that I cannot even begin to descibe the ache in my heart. I just want to wake up from this awful nightmare.
When I look over in the corner where her computer used to be it just looks so empty -- just like I feel.
I love you Kaitlyn
Friday, March 23, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
Will my Sunday's ever be the same -- will I ever stop looking at the clock at 8:10 pm and think "What IF ..........."
Sunday Nights for me used to be watching Extreme Makeover, Depespate Housewives and Greys Anatomy with Kaitlyn -- it was something we did together -- Jon was at church and Jeremy was at work -- just us veggen out in front of the TV -- I have not watched any of these shows in 29 weeks -- I just can't do it --
When will Sunday nights be about veggin in front of the TV again with no flashbacks to that horrible night -- I still hear the paramedics talking when the DH theme song comes on -- to keep me sane I have to believe that one day I will get past this feeling of dread at 8:10 pm every Sunday -- that the time will come when Sunday Nights are just like any other night --
Unfortunately I don't see that happenning anytime soon
Saturday, March 10, 2007
That plan will never happen --
I really did not think today would be so HARD for us -- we have come to love Desare (Justin's new wife) very much -- but it just broke my heart today when it hit me -- I will NEVER have this day with Kaitlyn - I won't help her pick out her dress. I won't be able to laugh and have fun with her friends while decorating the church-- I will never get stressed over the details not going just right on her big day. I will never see Kaitlyn walk down the aisle to meet the man of her dreams -- I will never see the look of pure joy on Jon's face as he walks her down the aisle -- it just hit me like a ton of bricks as I was taking pictures -- my heart hurts today.
To Justin and Desare -- you will never know what today meant to me and Jon -- to be a part of your special day even in a small way will never be forgotten -- we got to meet a whole new group of GREAT kids -- and we got to see two very special people in our lives start their lives together -- much love and well wishes - we are always here for you two -- Now I have a new ten year plan -- I will be celebrating with Justin and Desare as they reach their 10 year anniversary.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Here is what I am going to say tonight -- hopefully it will get through and the choices will be the right one.
My name is Cheri Vallery and my daughter Kaitlyn died on August 27, 2006 . In my wildest dreams, I never thought something like this would happen to our family Many times we don’t realize the choices we make have more than just an impact on ourselves. Your choices are far reaching – they touch many people. Today at the accident scene many of your parents had to pretend to identify your bodies, pretend to react to the news that you had died, pretend to realize that they will NEVER see you again. For me it is not pretend – I had to do all of those things just six months ago without the luxury of Kaitlyn coming home the next day. All because of a choice she made
Death is forever – one bad choice can mean that your family’s lives are forever changed. Kaitlyn has a mom and dad – a mom that will never get to see her get dressed for the prom, see her graduate from high school, help her move into the dorm at college, shop for her wedding dress, be with her when her children our born. Her dad will never be able to harass her dates when they come to pick her up, never get to see her all dressed up for the prom, stand with pride when she graduates from high school and goes on to college, never get to walk her down the aisle when she gets married, never get to hold her children in his arms and have them call him papa bear like she did EVERYDAY.
Kaitlyn had a brother named Jeremy who no longer has his sister, they can no longer complain about me and their dad together, he lost his best friend – someone who has been a part if his life since he was 14 months old. She had grandparents that no longer have their granddaughter – no one to call them granny and grampy – no one to get hugs from, no one that is Kaitlyn.
She had aunts and uncles that miss her EVERYDAY. She has a 5 year old cousin named Sarah that still does not understand why Kaitlyn is not here anymore. Our family holidays and get togethers are forever changed –we will always have someone missing – someone that we wish was still there. When we want to “see” Kaitlyn we go to the cemetery – all we have to visit is a piece of metal that marks where she is buried. To hear her voice we call her cell phone hoping that by some miracle she will answer -- she doesn't All because of a choice that she made
Kaitlyn has MANY friends that still miss her very much. They cannot believe that their best is friend is dead and will never come back. No more will the hear the familiar “Hey Girlfriend”; see the huge smile she always had on her face. All of the plans and dreams that they made for the rest of their lives are forever changed. There will be no prom night for them, no Senior Trip, no first apt, no serving in each others wedding, no seeing their kids grow up together. These are ALL hopes and dreams Kaitlyn and her friends had with each other – but not anymore. All because of a choice that she made.
When you get into a vehicle with someone that has been drinking, smoking pot or anything else that makes them not able to drive a car safely you are making a choice that could affect your family and friends. When you get behind the wheel of a car and you have been drinking, smoking pot, rolling ect you are taking not only your life but the life of anyone that happens to be on the road with you in your hands. Think about your plans and dreams for the future – think about your mom and dad, your sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends – think about what there lives will be like All because of the choices that you make.
If you find yourself in a situation that just does not feel right to you – make a phone call – call your parents to come and pick you up – they may not be happy with you once you get home BUT I promise you that they would much rather get a call from YOU than a Police Officer or the Morgue, if you can’t call your parents call a friend that you know is sober or call ME – I will give each and everyone of you my phone number – I would much rather get woken up in the middle of the night then having to read in the paper that one of you were in an accident or worse – that I have to make a trip to the funeral home and see the devastation that your choice caused your family and friends–
I am sure by now that you notice a theme in my story – CHOICE – ultimately that is what it comes down too – CHOICES – it is up to you to decide if you the choice you make is going to be the right or wrong one. Each one of you received an orange awareness bracelet with Kaitlyn’s Promise on it – I would love you to wear it everyday as a reminder of the choices you have and how they affect everyone around you. Kaitlyn does not have that ability anymore – but I know in my heart that she would want each and everyone of one of you to make the right choice - -that is Kaitlyn’s Promise to you.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
This past week has been bittersweet for me. Kaitlyn's 17th birthday was Feb 7th. It was a very weird day for me -- surreal -- just as bad as when I first realized that she is NEVER coming home again.
We spent time on Wednesday with her friends -- had a good time remembering Kaitlyn. On Saturday we did a balloon release at a local park --
When will this get better I keep asking myself -- when will I get through the day without crying -- without wanting to just scream -- without wanting to just HIT something. I just don't want anymore -- I don't want to go to work -- I don't want to have to deal with the pain -- I don't want to go visit my daughter at the cemetary -- I don't want to wake up each day and realize that this was not a bad dream --
Monday, January 22, 2007
154 is so much smaller that 6079 BUT it seems so much longer that I have been without her. How many more days will it take for it to seem real -- for me not to think she is going to walk in the door with her famous "HEY GIRLFRIEND" ? When will I be able to see her friends (who I love dearly) without feeling like I have been kicked in the stomach?
Did she enjoy all of 6079 days here -- was she happy -- did she know how much she meant to me ???? Did she realize how many people called her friend and REALLY miss her -- I hope that somehow she can see just how many people she touched in the 6079 days that she was here and just how many people's live's are forever changed because of something that happened 154 days ago.
I love you Kaitlyn
Saturday, January 20, 2007
My name is Cheri Vallery and my daughter Kaitlyn was a drug addict. I am here because she died from this horrible disease on August 27, 2006 . In my wildest dreams, I never thought something like this would happen to our family. We talked to our kids about the dangers of drugs, we asked questions about where they were going, we knew their friends. We did all of the “right” things - but it still got us. I so wish I could be up here telling you that Kaitlyn was the only person to use – that she used drugs all by herself – but sadly that is not true. Kaitlyn did not WANT to be an addict. This was not something she got up one day and thought, “Cool, today I think I will become a drug addict.” Drug addiction is an equal opportunity killer. It does not care who your friends are, where you live, how much money you have or what school you attend. This could easily be one of you up here instead of me. I am here tonight to put a face to addiction.
Someone told me recently that we have to teach teens to make the right choices – like my husband and I somehow didn’t do that. I wish it was that easy to make right choices – even adults often struggle over making the “right” choice. But I do hope that sharing Kaitlyn’s story will give teen’s additional information to help them make the right choice. By pretending drug use does not happen here would make Kaitlyn’s death seem meaningless and like she did not matter because she died from drug use. We need to raise awareness in our area and bring the issue out in the open – there are drugs in The Woodlands and until we face that reality more kids will die!!!!!!!!!
“Anyone who is sitting here tonight feeling guilty over your child or a friend’s drug use, I want you to give it only one more minute, and then I want you to let it go. The drug use is not our fault. You must understand that this is a billion dollar industry and dealers are targeting our children. Many parents simply aren’t equipped to deal with this. Even if you think your child won’t use drugs, they will be exposed to the dangers. They are growing up in this drug culture.”
What hurts the most (besides my beautiful baby girl not being here any longer) is that as her mom I was not able to fix the hurt that made her turn to drugs. One of my main purposes in life now is to not let what happen to our family happen to anyone else if at all possible. Kaitlyn was a GREAT kid. So many people called her a friend. She did not like to see people picked on and stood up for them. I am going to read a letter from a girl in one of Kaitlyn’s classes. This is just one example of her kindness:
My name is Mary and Kaitlyn was in my geometry class last year. I would sit next to her every day and we would talk about everything, especially of how proud she was of herself for being sober for 8 months straight. I was so proud of her too. I regret not getting to know her better. She was a great friend to me. In that class I would get made fun of by a huge group of guys. It was Kaitlyn who stood up for me and told them to stop. She was a great friend to me even though I didn’t know her that well. Kaitlyn was always jokin around about how stupid I was. She always made me laugh. She was just a very easy person to talk to and to have fun with. She was a great girl. Kaitlyn was so smart too. Her only problem was that she didn’t try hard enough in school. I bet that if she tried she would have been really good at anything she wanted to be good at. Kaitlyn was an easy person to get to know. She was an easy person to get along with and become great friends with. She knew how to treat people the right way. I miss her so much. Seeing her at the viewing made me cry my eyes out because she looked like an angel. She was so beautiful that i couldn’t take it anymore. I cried to people that i never got along with because a death brings everyone closer together. She showed me that life is short and you need to live life to its fullest. You need to love your family and always tell them that you do. You need to let them understand that you love them because one day you might be gone forever and you would never get to tell the people that you love how much you love them. So I want to thank you Kaitlyn. You showed me what love really is. You showed me that things can happen. You never know what could happen and you never could believe that bad things could happen to you until they do. I miss you terribly Kaitlyn. I love you dearly. You will always be in my heart. I will always remember you. I will always remember you smile and the happy times we shared together. Rest In Peace girl. I know that you are in a better place. Just know that I love you girl and that I will never forget you. You are in my prayers. Love, Mary Goldknopf goodbye Kaitlyn)
Kaitlyn organized a carwash for her friend, Wesley, that was in MD Anderson dying of cancer. She CARED about people. It saddens me that when some people think about her now they may forget about the true Kaitlyn. The real Kaitlyn was the one that made everyone around her smile, the one who always entered a room with a bright smile on her face. That is the Kaitlyn I will always remember – that is the Kaitlyn her friends remember – that is the Kaitlyn I want all of you to remember.
From what we have learned since she died, Kaitlyn began using in 8th grade after she had been date raped at a party. The kids had been drinking at this party. The pain and embarrassment was too much for her to handle, so she turned to drugs. They were easy to get – her friends stole them from their parents and gave them to her. That is where it began. There are no excuses to start using drugs, BUT it gives me a reason to better understand why she did what she did. The next step for Kaitlyn was pot - also easily obtained from kids at school. As soon as we became aware of her using pot, we put Kaitlyn in rehab in Nov 2004 for three weeks. Kaitlyn came home for Christmas and did great - while she was home. When Kaitlyn went back to school and into the environment where she was using, she relapsed and was arrested for drug possession. I thank GOD everyday that she was arrested – it gave us 19 more months with Kaitlyn – 16 of which she was clean. Kaitlyn attended AA meetings and she hung around with “clean” kids. During this time, we saw the “real” Kaitlyn. This was the Kaitlyn that attended CP. Kaitlyn’s proudest day was when she reached her one year sober anniversary last January 2006. I think just about everyone she was close to knew that Jan 27 was her sober date
I am not sure what triggered her to start using again. Was it the fact that she started hanging out with her old crowd? Did something else traumatic happen to her or did the addiction just win out again? That is something we will never know – it went to her grave with her.
Many people ask me about “warning signs.” I wish I could give you an easy formula to see if your child is using. The first time Kaitlyn used drugs, we had no clue. The only reason we became aware of a problem is because one of her friends came to us and let us know how bad the situation was – THANK YOU Justin. Many of the warning signs have been talked about by other members of the panel. While looking back I see some of them – the excuses, the bloodshot eyes, the change in grades, the anger and aggression
When Kaitlyn got of rehab the first time, I had a serious conversation with all of her friends. I BEGGED them to come to me and let me know if she was using again. My very words to them were “it will take one of you dieing to realize how serious a problem this is.” They assured me they would come talk to me. And I believed a bunch of drug-using teenagers. Those who were more worried about having a “good time” using drugs themselves and not getting their friend mad at them - instead saving her life.
Looking back, the second time down this crazy road of drug use there were some warning signs. The biggest red flag I see was the fact that she was hanging out with her old friends from the time she first began using drugs. I think Jon and I placed too much confidence in Kaitlyn to be able to handle herself. We believed that she had beat the drug addiction and “all was good” – she was strong enough. We were so wrong.
They say hindsight is 20/20. If I could re-live the 3 months before Kaitlyn died, I ask myself what we might have done differently.
The one and only thing WE could have done is to continue the random drug testing. You cannot force the kids to go to support groups and AA meetings. That is a choice they have to make. Ultimately, it was her CHOICE to use – in Al Anon they teach us that we did not cause this disease, we cannot control it nor can we cure it.
In our community, we have must encourage our kids to look out for each other. We need to help them realize that it is OK to talk to an adult if their friends are doing something harmful to themselves. As parents we need to TALK to one another and keep each other informed of what our kids are doing. It is not OK to hide this under the rug and pretend drug use doesn’t happen in our neighborhoods. Silence and secrets are the addict’s best friends. I would be doing Kaitlyn’s memory a disservice if I just stayed home and acted like her death only affected out family – it didn’t. It affected kids in all of the HS in the area, not to mention her friends and family in LA. I hear everyday from someone how her death made them think twice about what they are doing. So to the person that told me that we need to teach teens to make good choices – I think Kaitlyn is now doing that everyday. That is who Kaitlyn was – someone who helped other people at all times. This is Kaitlyn’s Legacy.
This is why Kaitlyn’s Promise was created. The night Kaitlyn died, at the hospital I asked one if her friends if she had been using. “YES, Miss Cheri. She had started using Cocaine and was “dusting” keyboard cleaner.” My heart broke. THEY KNEW she was using drugs. I had BEGGED them to come to me and THEY didn’t and now my daughter is dead. The rage I felt at these kids was intense. I made a promise to Kaitlyn that night – NONE of her friends were going to end up like her if I can help it. We must have courage to speak up about this problem. It does not tarnish the reputation of the schools or the community; it can only help make the situation better. To me, speaking up and saving lives helps more than doing nothing - by pretending drug use is not going on and that we live in a perfect world.
Kailtyn’s Promise is a website that we have set up that kids can go to and let someone know that their friend is doing something harmful. We forward all emails with drug use information or cries for help to school counselors for them to look into further. We also have other adults that have come forward and volunteered to be contacts on the web site. Many times, a familiar name is all that is needed for the kids to reach out for help. Our ultimate goal is to offer a free drug test to any parent who cannot afford to pay for one. We are also trying to set up amemorial scholarship in Kaitlyn’s name for a deserving Senior who has turned their life around and would like to continue to persue the goals.
Drugs tore our family apart – they were the main focus in our family for two years – they won a battle in our house, but not the war. PLEASE don’t let them win in yours. Just say no. If only it could be that simple.
Friday, January 05, 2007
I have to be honest --before Kaitlyn died my answer would have been "YES" very weird -- but now --not so weird. It is my greatest fear that Kaitlyn will be forgotten -- I want her to ALWAYS be remembered. I notice that I go out of my way to include her in conversations. When her friends come over I make sure that they have pictures of her, I gave everyone windchimes for Christmas as a rememberance of her. I totally get where that mom was coming from -- this is her reality -- her son is in a grave BUT he is still her son. So who knows what I will be sending out in three years for Christmas cards -- My only hope that Kaitlyn's memory is still strong in everyone's mind.
The post also had conversation about grieving parents -- We WANT to talk about our children, we appreciate the random phone call asking how we are doing. A card in the mail touches us in a way that you will never understand (hopefully).
Now for an update of sorts -- I went to speak to the prinicipal at Kaitlyn's school today -- I want to preface this by saying that I think he is a wonderful prinicpal -- he showed us tremendous support when Kaitlyn died and he had always been there for Jeremy -- BUT today I felt somewhat sad and disappointed when I left --
We are able to put the tree up in Kaitlyn's memory BUT he does not want a plaque anywhere because "where would they draw the line" he even compared it to the crosses on the side of the road -- at first I said I understood BUT since I have had time to really think about it I have to wonder if Kaitlyn had been a star athelete or an honor student would his stance had been different -- does her life not mean as much because her death was related to drugs --does she not matter ?????? Will other parents "complain" because she used drugs???
My son thinks the reason is not so much the fact that she was not a "star" at school but it is the way she died -- they don't want to draw attention to it because that would be admitting that there is a problem here -- Jeremy's word were -- "until they are ready to deal with the obvious drug problem here more kids are going to die and they will keep pushing it under the rug." Pretty smart kid I have there.
My question to Mr Murrel is -- Is Kaitlyn less of a person because she died of drugs instead of something else -- is her death less tragic -- is her friends grief not real because of the way she died -- do they miss her less ????
I guess I have a decision to make -- let this go and plant the tree or fight for my daughter to be remembered for more than just the way she died................................