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The Story of Whitley...

My beautiful first born child came into this world February 2, 2002. The first time I saw her I knew that we would have many grand adventures together. I could never have imagined the joy that those adventures would bring and the unimaginable pain when they came to an end. 

Whitley was a beautiful and joyful baby. She was smart too! One day when she was two, I walked into her room to find her reciting her favorite bedtime story, word for word, page by page as if she was reading it. Her love for reading continued and in school she excelled in every subject, making the honor roll time and time again.

Whitley excelled in many things and her love for life led her to try many activities. Some of her favorites were dance, softball and piano. It was such a joy watching her dance and play and sometimes I thought my heart would burst with pride.

I began to notice subtle changes in Whitley's behavior in the summer of 2013  during softball season. By the time school began we were really seeing a difference in her demeanor. My bright honor roll student was dreading the start of the new year for the first time in her life. I chalked it up to puberty but by the third week of school she began crying uncontrollably when I would drive her to school and begged me not to make her go. She couldn't explain why. She would only say that she didn't know what was wrong and that she wanted to stay home with me.

In December, the physical symptoms began. She told my husband one day that she thought she needed glasses because she saw double in class when looking at the chalk board. Then a week or so later she told me that sometimes it was hard to swallow. With the coming of the holiday season and so much to do, we pushed on thinking it was nothing and that it would go away on it's own, but it didn't.

In January I picked her up from dance and she told me that she had fallen in class and that she was getting dizzy at school sometimes and was afraid she would fall down the stairs. I made an appointment the next day and took her to see the pediatrician. There we were told that she had an inner ear infection and sent home with antibiotics. How I wish they had been right. On January 29, when the symptoms persisted, we made another visit to the doctor. On that day, after a series of horrifying events, my beautiful, smart, talented, loving, perfect daughter was handed a death sentence and life as we knew it ended.  

It is difficult to express in words the amazing human being that my daughter was. She cared so much for others and understood that it was her job to look out for those less fortunate than her. Her nurturing and generous nature was apparent even in the end when it became difficult for her to care for herself. She was such a bright light and knowing her made others want to be better. 

I am so blessed that Whitley chose me to be her mom and I am eternally grateful for the 13 years that I got to spend with her. It was the pleasure of my life and I cherished every moment.  It is my hope that I can honor her memory by always supporting the things that touched her heart and by helping those that are less fortunate. I will continue to fight this horrific disease just as I did when I still had Whitley so that maybe someday other beautiful children won't have to lose their lives.

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