Survivor Stories / Tributes

Kathryn Sladek Smith

Personal Description:

Dedication:

In memory of my mother, Kathryn Sladek Smith, I honor her with love, dedication, incredible intelligence, strength, courage, honesty, and laughter from all of us who were lucky enough to be touched by her heart and her amazement. Mom, on behalf of dad, traie, caleb, doug, all of our extended family, and your many greatful friends, we miss you, love you, are inspired by you. We will never forget the lessons, experiences, passions, and definition of love that you brought us, which will be saved in our hearts forever.

Personal Description:

Too many children, of any age lose their parents at a time that always seems to soon. There always seems to be more to learn, more love to give, and more to share.
Several weeks before your 10th birthday, after 5 years of not truly understanding why everything you knew was different and why you could not see your parent very often, is one of the most painful, life-changing, confusing,tramatically unexplainable and challenging parts of life. Without living through the experience, you would never have words to explain what the little girl, and eventually a growing woman, feels, misses, and is challenged by daily. It includes the flashbacks and fears of knowing your mom will not return, the question of guilt as to why, and the sadness of not saying “I love you” or hug her for the infinite time. In many cases, such as mine, you hold on to the fear of losing others you need and want to hold on to.
I truly believe, that my dad is one of the stronget, bravest, most successful and honorable people in this world. His work dedication, and his never-ending completely unexpressible love for his children is envied and inspiring for most to witness.
I have a caring, loyal, and supportive stepmother who truly loves me and will always protect me. One that few may have. Yet, no one can come close to your mom.
For me, throughout the past 18 years, and likely longer, I see my dad not only as my best friend, but as a slight reflection of my mom too. She left me with the best thing I could have asked for, an amazing dad who communicated with my mom every day on all subjects imaginable. He is the one person whom she could trust to teach me her messages, her hopes for me, her never-ending uncomperable love for me, and her fears of having to let me go.
After being diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer when I was 5, both she and my dad knew that she had little chance to lead an extended life, but also were very happy that she had the chance to live the extra few years of dreams, laughter, and daily inspiration from the love of her life, and her three children she cherished, loved, and cared for in every way, every day.
As a young child, your mom is your complete caregiver, source of protection, and needed person in a girl’s life. For some who have experienced such loss it’s different reaction, that they can absorb the loss, and keep themselves distracted and consistent throughout the anniversary of their loss. Are they more brave or perhaps settled with how their lives have permanantely changed? Or, are they just not (and might never fully be) ready to accept the complete reality of their loss? Unlike the children, and eventually growing adults, who can manage to step aside from the daily sadness through other means, I have and likely will remember and feel the affects each day, not knowing how to find any escape. I can not forget, the exact date/anniversary, the way I found out, the tears in my dad’s eyes and the way everyone in my entire extended family was downstairs as soon as I left him with their arms open and the hope to comfort me with full love and support. I have always been extremely lucky to have such a support group holding me and protecting me, but nothing could ever remove the feeling that crushed my heart and froze my body. Nothing can make me forget the the sight of what my dad seemed to think was a permantly damaged life and heart, and the look of qustioning as to how to be without his wife and best friend who he had shared the majority of his life with. With this described look and vision, there was no doubt. When I reached his arms I felt like I won’t be able to ever let go, and tears would never cease. Mom and dad both decided that her fight had become too painful and she was too weak; it was time to let go. She couldn’t let him watch the inevitable, and he couldn’t watch her suffer any longer.
For me, throughout the past 18+ years, memory and loss drowns the anniversary of the day she passed away, yet I can also recall her memory,attempt to follow her teachings, and try to reach for what she always hoped and wanted for me. I can light a candle for what I may have done in the months or year behind which may have dissapointed her or those things I may not have done to take care of myself. But more so, I remind her of my love for her, missing her daily, and the thoughts of her that live with me constantly. I let her know what her guidance has done for me, and what I have achieved and accomplished in any aspect of life. I can ask questions, and try to imagine how she would have guided me. And, of course, I will routinely let her know how dad has succeeded as a father, a communicator of her lessons, and much more.
Even though my mom only had little time to teach all she hoped for; she showed me the basis for success and the understanding of love. I remind myself daily by wearing two very special pieces of jewelry that she always held close to her heart – her wedding ring and her necklace she rarely removed. Knowing that my mom supported me at each moment, left me with the confidence of her amazing skills and uncomparable motherly nature, and the certainty that she will live in my heart and mind will always inspire me. As both of my parents told me daily, they will love me, more than anything, always and forever, no matter what. This may be the most important message I could ever be left with.

Last updated on: 12/23/2008


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