Kaden’s Story: He Was Welcomed

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Each day I will feature a different guest blogger who will generously share their personal experience with childhood cancer.  Stories are always more potent than statistics. 

By Alison Hopkins 

There is nothing like it, the sweet smell of your babies! I would bask in the scent of my boys every chance I got. I knew they would morph into teenagers soon enough and wanted to savor their sweetness before hormones took over.

I remember bragging that Kaden was such a sweet boy and insisting that others smell his beautiful noggin. His nurses, with surprise, would agree with me. My sweet boy.

Kaden on the right with his little brother B
Kaden on the right with his little brother B

The rain would not let up, it felt like we hadn’t seen the sun in weeks. Nothing was blooming, everything was gray. I felt gray. Kaden was on hospice and the rain made it worse, if that was at all possible. I needed to see the sun and Kaden needed to be outside. He was antsy and the whole family was stir-crazy.

Hospice is like living on “pause.”

Waking to the sun was like exhaling! Sunshine! Kaden sat on his dad’s lap while I took a shower and his little brother, B, toddled around outside. When I got out of the shower, Kaden was in his room and was a little agitated. I opened the blinds in the room and looked at him. “It’s a beautiful day, Kaden, a beautiful day.” I knew what I was saying. I leaned over and kissed his head. There was no sweet smell, nothing.

I scooped him up to calm him and carried him to the couch, cradled in my arms. We, my husband and I, held him and comforted him as he took the last breath he would take. We held him, changed him into a new, clean outfit, and brought him to the funeral home workers outside when we were “ready.” (I refused to let them into the house, to take my baby. It was my last decision as his mother.)

After taking a few minutes to compose ourselves and to just be together as his parents, we walked outside and were amazed. Everything was blooming! Everything! The irises were amazing, almost as if they burst because they couldn’t contain their beauty anymore. And the perfume, it was so fragrant! The perfume smelled exactly like Kaden.

Kaden and Company
Kaden and Company

Wherever he went, he was welcomed.

Kaden David Hopkins

12/3/01 ~ 4/27/07

Ph+ ALL (diagnosed 1/8/07)

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Alison wrote these words to me separately, but I have included them because they struck me with their potent strength:

” . . . what I wrote about was probably the clearest day I had experienced since [Kaden’s] diagnosis. I hate cancer and what it took from my children, my husband, my family. If I had to do it all over again, though, knowing what I know now? In a heartbeat. Maybe my pain is a measure of my love for him, my attachment to him? Whatever it is, it also makes me a better mom, wife, mother, and friend. I know how very dark it can be and this makes me enjoy the light so much more.”

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