How Could I Say Goodbye?


Today I woke up with a sick feeling in my stomach. It has been this way each morning for at least a week. I have known what’s coming and I am anything but prepared.

This week is packed full off anniversaries. Each one even worse than the one before it. And my heart just isn’t ready to face it all once again.

October 17, 2013 was the day I learned my daughter was going to die. After fighting beside her to save her life for 16 months her long battle was going to end. There was nothing else that could be done.

I will never forget sitting in the family conference room of the oncology floor waiting for her Shunt Series MRI results. I was sitting alone in the room with Olivia asleep on my lap. Then in walked her oncologist, neurologist, primary nurse, nurse practitioner and the oncology social worker. My heart sank. I knew in that moment that this meeting was different than any meeting we’d had before. Usually her oncologist delivered MRI results by himself.

Before Dr. Foreman could even sit down he said the words, “I am so sorry, but the results are not good. Olivia is going to die.” Olivia’s tumor has tripled in size in just three weeks.

I went into shock. I didn’t know what to say or how to react. It was like my heart was ripped right out of my chest.

Tears began to roll down my cheeks and I look desperately at my daughter who was sleeping so peacefully. How could I say goodbye to the greatest love of my life? How would I continue to live without my daughter?

I listened as the doctor told me to go get Olivia’s dad and come back so we could talk about what happens now. That was when it hit me. No one else knew. I would also have the horrible task of telling Olivia’s dad and other family members that she wasn’t going to make it.

The next hours and the days that followed were a blur. I felt like I was in a cloud. My mind wasn’t really processing anything. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t drink. I just wanted to be by my girl.

Beginning that night Olivia slept in bed with me, tucked safely into my arm each night. And our days were spent on the couch with her nestled on my chest or between her dad and I. I was terrified to leave her for even a moment. What if I missed her last breath? I would never forgive myself.

On October 21st around 7 pm Olivia’s breathing changed. She slipped into a deep sleep and her breathing became gravely and pained. That continued for almost exactly 24 hours.

And then on October 22, 2013 at 7:09 pm my daughter died in my arms. She was only 20 months and 3 days old.

To say I miss her is a massive understatement. I am no longer whole. How can I be when I have to live without my only daughter?

Being Olivia’s mommy changed me forever. Loving her made me love deeper. But losing her also left me with a terrible anxiety and severe PTSD. Many days my stomach is in knots. I am easily overwhelmed. I have a big fear of losing more people I love.

Childhood cancer is a monster. It stole my daughter’s childhood, her innocence, her eyesight, the use of her right arm, and ultimately it stole her life. I will never be the same.

Please remember my sweet Olivia this week. Light a candle. Wear purple. Or make a donation in her honor. I simply can’t believe it’s been 4 years since I got to hold her.

Until I see you again baby girl, I will love you and think of you every single day.

The Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research in memory of Olivia Caldwell, who passed away at 20 months old in October 2013 from brain cancer. To date we have given $155,000 to pediatric cancer research. You can learn more and donate by visiting


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