Our Goodbye to Kate

Posted by in Patient Safety, The Patient Voice

Our Goodbye to Kate

Eulogy read at the services for Katherine “Kate” Hallisy:

At this difficult time we take solace in the outpouring of support for our family because the years have taught us that grief shared is grief diffused.

It is time again to draw on the many strengths that sharing Kate’s life has given us. She taught us to search for our happiness, to choose to see the good in every person and every situation, and to treasure every small kindness, every tender mercy – because there were many. Because of Kate, we lived with everyday miracles and her glorious life always led us to the pinnacles of happiness that sustained us. It has been a joy to see the world through Kate’s view. She is our beacon, our shining star – our glimpse into heaven.

Looking from the outside, it could appear that much was taken away from Kate. In reality, our God was generous. So much more was given to Kate than was ever taken – her gifts were many.

Even as a toddler, she had the ability to see beauty in simple things. She appreciated every moment, she knew what really mattered and clearly understood that the measure of our days is in our ability to live our lives in a way that would honor God. After it rained she would always stop to delight in the small rainbows in the street caused by the oil from cars. Kate didn’t just stop to smell the flowers-she picked the most perfect specimens from the yards of all our neighbors. Kate also loved storms. Once, I told her that I preferred clear skies because I liked to see the stars. She said, “The stars are always there, Mom, you just can’t see them for awhile because they’re behind the clouds.” That comment has always stayed with me because it captured Kate’s entire outlook on life. She was always looking for the stars behind the clouds.

Kate loved animals and spoke of becoming a veterinarian. It was not just coincidence that animals love us unconditionally, thrive on any small part of ourselves that we share with them, and are able to give so much and expect so little in return. One of her greatest gifts was her unrelenting sense of humor—undoubtedly a gift from John, or, as she called him—her “Greatest, jokiest, Poppo.” Early on, my adored husband doubted his ability to be a great father, but he easily surpassed any and all expectations of fatherhood and who was so clearly meant to be beside me as we followed and supported Kate down the path her life was meant to take.

Kate knew suffering and her compassion for others who suffer in any way was touching. John received a minor injury at work a few months ago and needed stitches. I told the kids what happened before John came home so they would be prepared. When John came through the front door, Kate burst into tears. As John comforted her she said that she felt so sorry for him because she knows how much shots and stitches hurt, and she couldn’t stand the idea of her dad in any pain. It would have been so easy for her to dismiss the pain of others because it was so much less than her own. After the biopsy of her leg in December of 1997, we were in the recovery room next to a four-year-old girl who had also had a biopsy and was sobbing in pain. Although we were having trouble managing Kate’s own post-operative pain, she asked who was crying. We moved her bed slightly so she could see the little girl. As we were being wheeled out of the room she turned to the little girl and said “I’m so sorry you have to go through this and I’ll pray for you.” For a few moments the entire busy recovery room came to a standstill. People stood in complete silence to look at Kate with wonder. She could never let her own pain or fear make her immune to the suffering of others.

Years ago, when Kate was first diagnosed it was hard not to focus on all the things that we might miss if her life was cut short. I told John how much I was looking forward to seeing her in her little red school uniform. He promised me that we were going to see that day and his faith was so strong that I started to believe it could happen. But, we saw so much more than we ever hoped. She saw the arrival of her younger brother, Kevin, and truly grasped what a miracle a new life is. We saw her in her red uniform for many years, watched her stand on the stage and recite her speeches for the speech contest with gusto, a perfect first Holy Communion that included her thunderous reading, a love letter from a boy, and a bona fide marriage proposal from one of Kevin’s preschool classmates.

Lastly, to Daniel and Kevin, You father and I pledge to you before God, family and friends to love you and be there for you all the days of our lives. To insure that you know and embrace happiness again, to set an example for you by living our lives in a way that will honor Kate. You are our greatest blessing. We will be there to guide you in becoming the loving, compassionate men you are destined to be.