Kyla McCullough

Monday, August 27, 2007

Kyla - First Lamb To Arrive

When Kyla got sick the number 7 came up more then I can count, but here are a few examples. Kyla was 7 when she was diagnosed, her seat on the air plane on the way to Disneyland was 7. Kyla's hair was cut off in 7 sections, Kyla had 7 pokes in her arm at Emanuel Hospital (6 too many). Kyla was in room 7 in the emergency room the last day of her life, and she was given a less then 2% chance of dying, on the 7th of August. And the number of weeks between her fist diagnosis and her heavenly birthday was...7.

Ever since Kyla has left me the number 7 has been a strong part of my life. I realized the horse I had when I was in high school was named 7, I go on vacation with friends and and the number in our party is 7. I had to get a new drivers license and when they called number 7 I knew it was my turn. Kora found a rubber ball used for shooting pool outside of our house, she brought it in to show me... it was the 7 ball. Before our trip to Hawaii I bought a tanning package, my tanning number was 741... when Kyla got sick she was 7 Kora was 4 and Bree was 1. I was just in the hospital getting a minor surgery done and when I was coming to Bret said, "Guess what number of bed you're in?" I looked at him and with a groggy voice said, "7." We both giggled as Bret said, "You are going to be fine."

Last November, my brother and sister-in-law bought an inscribed brick at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Kyla's honor. The brick has been done for sometime, but was laid only a few weeks ago in the courtyard there where all the kids play. We didn't get the chance to take Kyla there to play but we knew exactly where it was.

Kyla's Brick

Earlier this month, on the date of Kyla's heavenly birthday (August 8th) our family along with my parents and Bret's parents and bother Joey went to Doernbecher to visit Kyla's brick for the first time. To spice things up a bit we all took the Portland Aerial Tram up to the hospital. When we walked into the hospital I could feel my legs shake. I didn't know how my body was staying up let alone walking to the courtyard where we were to find the brick that had Kyla's name on it. We walked through the hallway between OHSU and Dornbechers and that's when it hit me... I had made that trip with Kyla everyday for four weeks and it was an out of body experience to walk it without her. We made our way through the doors to the courtyard; we forgot our map we had that told us which section the brick was in. But we knew already, the section that her brick is in is not 7... it's 14, the number 7 doubled.

We all took our turn trying to find her brick...Kyle...Joe...McCullough...Kylie...all of a sudden I yell, "Here it is, I found it!" Everyone turns to find me already on the ground touching it. The brick reads, "Kyla First Lamb To Arrive." The power of the words, the fact that I felt I had help in finding it among the hundreds of bricks around us. I started to cry, and I didn't stop for sometime. The hugs I received only made it worse and yet I couldn't make it without them. In order to give myself a break I walked the courtyard until I found a pink piece of chalk. I went back to my daughters brick and drew my signature heart around it. I then asked Royce, Bret's dad, to take a photo of Kyla's mom, dad, and sisters' hands touching the brick. I felt proud to take the photo but also very saddened for the simple fact that Kyla was not physically there with us.

Family and Kyla's Brick

For those of you that would like to visit Kyla's brick yourself, here are the directions:
Doernbecher Children's Hospital
From main entryway lobby:

1) Take elevator to the 9th floor.
2) Off the elevator, take a right down the hallway.
3) Go past the US Bank Family Waiting Room on the right side of the hallway.
4) Take your next right and go down the inpatient corridor for South 9.
5) Then take another right at the end of the hall and out into the courtyard.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I Love You Bigger Then the Sky

The date of Kyla's heavenly birthday is Wednesday, August 8th, and as the day nears I cannot help but go back and remember what my seven year old daughter experienced as she was at the end of her life.

Bret and I had a meeting with some doctors this night two years ago, trying to figure out what we can do for her in the next stage of this terrible process we were in. We were in a room next to Kyla's and I was under the impression that the doctors would take care of her, that was the only reason why I left her by herself at that time.

While in the conference room at a long table full of doctors with their laptops and clipboards and white coats there was Bret and I. I looked around the table and wondered for only a moment why there were so many of them with us. Then it hit me... they are about to tell us something serious, something terrible. My stomach turned and I felt like I am going to get sick. They showed us the latest MRI scan Kyla took earlier that day and let us know the tumor was growing faster then any of them has ever seen before. They told us they could bump her up on the schedule for surgery the next morning to relieve more pressure. That way Kyla's headaches that had come back could subside a bit. Our other option was to keep her going with a breathing tube, or the last option which was to let her be and keep her comfortable until the end. They left us in the room by ourselves to make a decision, but we had to make one soon... the doctors knew we didn't have much time from the pain Kyla was in. Bret and I were sitting next to one another in silence, not knowing what to say to the other. Finally Bret takes my hand with tears in his eyes, "Brettie... if this were a basketball game, we are losing 99 to 1." He starts to cry as I sit in shock realizing he's right but not wanting to hear the words. He continues, "What is the surgery going to do for her... for Kyla? Let's say she has the surgery and she only lives for another day or two. Then we put her through another surgery and for what? For ourselves? What would Kyla want?" All I can do is shake my head and shrug my shoulders..."I'm not ready to let her go." Bret hugs me, "I'm not ready either, but Kyla would not want all of this... she is ready to go."

How do you, as a parent, know what is the right decision to make when it comes to your child's life? We knew she was going to leave us, we knew she was too active and smart to be constricted from a brain tumor. But when do you cross the line between being human and selfish by keeping here with us, and doing what we all know she would want which is allowing Jesus to take her home?

We walked back into the hospital room where I see Kyla moving so violently back and forth on her bed. My dad is to my right and my mom is to my left next to Kyla. My mom says loudly, "Oh Kyla I love you bigger then the sky!" Kyla answers back with all her might through her head moving back and forth, "I.... love.... you... bigger... then... the... sky." And although it was a reply to my mom I feel as if she was telling all of us in the room that she loves us. I said right away, "Kyla I love you, we all love you!" The medicine the nurse gave Kyla through her I.V. was kicking in and finally Kyla's movements became calm and slow and eventually she fell asleep. Those words Kyla spoke moments before were the last words I heard from my daughters voice.