3 years. Today is 3 whole years since my only daughter died. I barely slept last night as I played the events of October 22, 2013 over and over in my mind.
We knew it was coming and for that I am grateful. Olivia was home on hospice care after a 16-month battle with brain cancer. She had fought courageously and had given it all she had. Her body was tired and it was time for her to be at peace.
Throughout the 5 days she was home on hospice we watched her condition continue to deteriorate before us. The size of her head was expanding daily as the tumor continued to grow in size. Her eye was nearly swollen shut from the pressure. Her eyesight was completely gone. Her skin was covered in modeling. She looked absolutely miserable.
Most of the day Olivia remained unconscious. Her breathing was gravely and she lay limp between us with her head tucked into the crook of my neck. Sometimes her breathing would pause for as much as a minute and we would cry thinking it was the end. And then suddenly her breathing would start up again. There was one moment where I had run to the bathroom and she stopped breathing again. I thought I had missed her last breath. I can’t even explain how desperate I felt in that moment. Then suddenly the breathing started up once again. I don’t know that I have ever felt so relieved. I couldn’t fathom missing her last moment.
Then at 7:09 p.m. Olivia stopped breathing for several minutes. We knew this was it. Then without warning our little girl opened her eyes and took 3 final, peaceful breaths and with that she closed her eyes. She was gone. Childhood cancer stole her life at just 20 months and 3 days old.
The next hour was spent bathing her, changing her diaper one last time, dressing her in her final outfit and just holding her tight. Then we had the horrific task of passing her off to the county coroner. As he walked out the door with her I just fell to the floor and sobbed.
I had so many dreams for my daughter. I knew she was capable of amazing things. She is changing the world, but not in the way I had imagined. Her legacy and her beautiful soul live on. I know we will be reunited one day, but until then, I love you my sweet daughter. And I miss you with every fiber of my being.
Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research. Since they were founded in November 2013, they have given $115,000 to pediatric cancer research. Another large check will be donated this coming week to Children’s Hospital Colorado’s neuro-oncology research lab. To learn more or to make a tax-deductible gift, please visit www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.