Two months ahead of schedule, Kali entered this world in a rush. She had quit moving and the doctor didn’t know why. 10 seconds old, she opened one big blue beautiful eye, looked around, and closed it. She was rushed away to the NICU.
Over the course of her stay at the NICU, bad news was plentiful and good news was not. Kali had survived a massive stroke. Additionally, the first few hours of her life, the doctors were unable to get oxygen into her blood stream. She was left with a severely damaged brain. The damage has caused her many developmental delays and she has an extreme case of cerebral palsy.
The little girl that I had imagined, hoped for, and dreamed about was not going to show up. But this little girl right here in my arms looked perfect. I am a very optimistic person and I told myself this is just a rough start. People have strokes all the time and can relearn many things. No one knows her future. And so, I tackled life with Kali.
Over the course of several years, Kali grew bigger but she didn’t progress. She still acted like a new baby. Her health complications were complex and difficult. Her body was in constant pain which caused never ending tears.
When she was about 3 years old, my optimism for her having a normal life was gone. “Why did God send me this girl?” “Why me?” During this time I grieved the loss of my imaginary child. The imaginary version of my daughter had to die. Even though she never actually existed, my grief was very real.
My grief faded quickly and once that was done, my heart was wide open to love this little girl just as she is. I no longer hoped for a normal child, I just wanted to see how this girl could blossom.
She is now 18 years old and I thank God every day that she is mine. “Why me?” turned into “Thank you that it could be me.” Being her dad has been the most significant thing that has ever happened to me. I have learned more through her than anything else could have ever taught me.
Her life is very difficult. As of her last count she has had surgery 34 times. She has had many periods of her life where she has been very sick and miserable. Her complications have been extreme.
Through all her complications, Kali has also had many very happy times in her life. She has the most contagious smile I’ve ever seen. She loves people completely and totally and without condition. She shares her smiles, her laughter, and her joy with everyone in her life.
The Big Kindness Project was made in her honor. We would all be better off if we were as kind as she is. What if I could spread kindness and happiness throughout the world like she does? And with those thoughts, the Big Kindness Project was born.
On March 3rd, 2023 at the age of 19 years and 24 days old, Kali passed away peacefully due to health complications. Surrounded by loved ones her last act on this earth was to open her eyes, look around, smile and then close them. May her memory live on forever in the kindness that we share with others.