Claire Calhoun's Journal
Written Apr 26, 2013 12:06pmI'm purposely sharing quotes, parts of talks, because as of yet, my feelings are too tender to put to words. The strength of others and their thoughtfulness carries us through this sacred slip of time.
My dear dear friend, Mary Ann sent me this poem, the Author is unknown and it so beautifully captures some of the raw emotions being felt by our family.
God made a sweet child a child who never grew old
He made a smile of sunshine, he molded a heart of pure gold.
He made that child as close to an angel as anyone could be
God made a Sweet Child and He gave that dear child to me
Then God saw His wonderful creation growing very tired and weak
So He wrapped the child in His loving arms and said, "You my child I keep"
But now my Sweet Child is an angel free from hurt and pain
I'll love you forever, until we meet again
So many times I have missed you, So many times I have cried
If all my love could have saved you, Sweet Child you never would have died.
All my love,
Written Apr 25, 2013 9:21pmThe second talk given at Claire's services was given by my younger brother David. He was funny, reverent, irreverent and then funny again. He began his talk by saying "this is totally going on Facebook" and took a picture with his phone from the pulpit to capture the numbers that were there.
I wanted to share the poem
Baby Mine. by Dumbo
Baby mine, don't you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes,
Rest your head close to my heart
Never to part, baby of mine
Little one when you play
Don't you mind what they say
Let those eyes sparkle and shine
Never a tear, baby of mine
If they knew sweet little you
They'd end up loving you too
All those same people who scold you
What they'd give just for the right to hold you
From your head to your toes
You're not much, goodness knows
But you're so precious to me
Cute as can be, baby mine
Love and hugs,
Written Apr 22, 2013 9:16amCLAIRE CALHOUN EULOGY
Funeral Services April 17, 2013
I’m a friend of the Calhoun family and have been privileged to have been a part of the family’s lives and especially Claire’s life.
If Claire were standing up here being her normal self, she might have looked out among all of us and said,
“What going on round here?”
Claire spent hundreds of nights in Children’s Hospital. She liked to be surrounded with all of her toys and things that she loved so much that she demanded it. So much so, that she would place all of her stuffed animals and things in a huge pile around her in her bed. The piles got large and comical sometimes. This crowd today would make her so happy, all of her favorite people, those who loved her, and that she loved in surrounding her in a big pile of sorts.
Trying to get the iPad playing the “show” (aka movie) from her and to get into “Night Night” mode was quite a challenge, both physically and emotionally. The usual routine was to read 2-3 of the latest favorite books, say prayers, sing a song (almost always requested “I Am A Child Of God”, the one we just sang to open this meeting) and then she would ask for another story and try to repeat the process again…
Mike developed the “Princess Claire Stories” which she loved so much that it motivated her to freely hand over iPad, move some things out of the bed so he could lay down next to her, and prepare for “Night Night”.
Must have items were her "minky” and “cozie". These were made by her “Grammy Cutler”. Once these were on her and in her hands, she was ready for her “Princess Claire Story”.
These stories were about a little princess Claire with crazy red hair and some odd adventure she had with her friends. I am going to tell one you one of these Princess Claire stories:
(I’m sure that, as I did several times with her, I will mess up some of the format she liked. When that would happen I would receive one of the trademark Claire simple and definitive statements, in her not so quiet voice “NO!” I would correct the story and continue. Hopefully Mike won’t yell out a “NO!” while I’m telling this. :) )
These three statements were critical at the beginning of each story.
“Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess, and her name was Princess Claire”
“Princess Claire had crazy Red hair.
“Everybody loved her.”
Princess Claire Elizabeth Calhoun was born on April 27, 2005 at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue to parents Michael and Debbie Calhoun.
Princess Claire was a beautiful infant. Being a Calhoun child, fair-white skin was a given, and with her red hair it was even more expected. When Princess Claire was about 6 weeks old, her skin was so white that she like a porcelain doll. She was taken to the ER with difficulty breathing and very pale skin.
When she got to the hospital, Princess Claire “coded" and doctors frantically tried to figure out what was wrong. After lots of tests and specialists, it was determined that her problem was her bone marrow/blood. She had very little of it.
Seattle Children’s Hospital being so close, was a tremendous blessing. With the extensive amount of blood related research work done here locally, the doctors determined that she did not produce ANY red blood cells and that her white cells were "squirrelly" ( the doctors "medical term:) ) Essentially, since birth, she hadn’t been producing red blood cells. A normal persons Hematocrit (percentage of blood that is made up of red blood cells) is anywhere from 35-45. Princess Claire’s hematocrit was 7 when she went into the ER, which is unheard of. The doctors were and are amazed she survived, but as we shortly came to find out, Princess Claire was a fighter of the highest order. Mike and Debbie quickly became experts on blood chemistry. One of the many miracles in Princess Claire’s life was to have been living in Seattle where some of the best blood disease doctors and resources in the world are located!
For the first 2 years of her life, Princess Claire was blood transfusion dependent. The only potential cure was a Bone Marrow transplant.
It was determined that Princess Claire ’s brother, Prince Sam, who was 8 years old at the time, was a genetic match and would be the best donor possible. The very brave Prince Sam readily agreed to donate his Bone Marrow to his sister. In preparation for the transplant Princess Claire had to go through intensive and harsh chemotherapy, which caused Princess Claire to lose all of her beautiful red hair. You will see pictures of Princess Claire with hair, bald, and then with hair…..this is why.
On October 12, 2007 Princess Claire received the gift of Bone Marrow from her brother. The transplant was successful and Princess Claire for the first time ever, was producing her own Red Blood cells. And growing out her red fiery flow.
Storyteller Commentary Timeout:
*Prince Sam, if Princess Claire were with us today, she would be loudly cheering you and the opportunity you gave her to live and with a big hug say thank you!
One of the common issues with Bone Marrow Transplants is Graft v. Host (GVH) issues between her immune system and the donor cells.
For 5 years Princess Claire spent several long term hospital stays at Children’s Hospital, as her body struggled with a variety of health issues. As a result of the many, very potent medications, Princess Claire took to treat the GVH, her immune system was severely weakened and simple cold bugs and germs became life threatening challenges for Princess Claire. As a result, Princess Claire was unable to attend school and participate in many of the normal, everyday activities of other children her age. Although she led a very isolated life, she was never lonely. Her loving parents and brothers, Prince Braeden and Prince Sam were so good to her.
Additionally, Princess Claire found friends in everyone she met. Always greeting people, friends or strangers alike, with a hug and a loud “My name is Claire!! What’s your name?” At the neighborhood park she was a celebrity. She loved to say hello and all loved to be greeted.
How many kids can say that Santa Claus was her friend and visited her multiple times at her house?!?! Sometimes more than once in a season. Some of you may know more about this secret than others.
Princess Claire was tough! She was close to death on multiple occasions, but the tiny red haired warrior in her wouldn’t quit! She defied the odds and doctors expectations time and time again. The wonderful medical staff at Children’s learned to never expect the typical with Princess Claire. All the staff knew Princess Claire and knew the routine with her….
High 5 – Knuckles—and Flame-Out. And participated with enthusiasm.
Princess Claire was always concerned about others. If you had an owie or were visually sad, she would go find a band-aid and bring it to you and say, “no sad” in an attempt to fix it. When she was well enough to walk in the halls of the hospital, she would stop at rooms where other children were crying. Even though she usually could not see into any of the rooms, she would say “baby crying, ohhh, baby be happy”. Princess Claire showed compassion and love. She did this even with those she never knew or visually saw.
Children’s hospital had lots of animals in the form of sculptures and paintings. Princess Claire referred to the hospital as “the zoo”.
Most of the time in the hospital she had some form of additional oxygen, usually in the form of a cannula, under her nose. She called it her “power”. Princess Claire had a special power, but despite her inner strength and resilience, the continued health challenges took their toll. Every time she would go into the hospital it seemed that she would come out with an additional medication or treatment that would be required to help maintain her standard of life.
Princess Claire’s parents were often told that Princess Claire was “writing her own story,” because she refused to respond to treatments or illnesses as expected. Despite suffering multiple fractures along her spine, a broken leg, and other painful conditions, when asked if Princess Claire had “owies”, she always replied, “no owies, all better.” Princess Claire was happy!
Princess Claire had a special attraction for anything with a reflection. Mirrors, appliances, and windows when it was dark outside. She would see her reflection and it was a challenge to get her to stop looking at herself. Maybe she was amazed by her flaming red hair and her fortitude, nobody knew.
Princess Claire had a friend named Matt. Since she could not say “Matt” she called him “Mott”. He love it! Mott and Princess Claire would have a few regular must dos upon greeting.
• Tiger hugs where Mott and Claire would both squeeze tight and growl like tigers.
• Mott would ask Princess Claire what time it was and she would say, “zerbert time!” and bring her shoulders up to her neck and tilt her head forward smiling, getting ready to received her ticklish zerbert (others called them raspberry’s).
• She would say “piggies” and want Mott to perform the “this little piggy” routine on her toes and laugh followed by many requests of “again”.
She loved to visit Mott’s house to see Beau the large Bernese Mountain Dog and give him sometimes more love than he wanted, and that is hard to do. She would say, “ahwh, so cute” to Beau and pat him, play with his ears, tongue, and tail. Beau is really big, and “cute” is not how he is usually described. Before she could walk she knew how to dash off when nobody was watching navigate upstairs of Mott’s house to see the “Mr. Wizzard”. That was the gecko lizard of my sons. Princess Claire would lay on the floor talking Claire speak to Mr. Wizzard.
Each week Princess Claire’s Sunday school teacher, Susan, would come to her home and teach her a lesson. Simple teachings of Christ were taught. For the past few months her focus was to teach the simple truths to "be true" and "Stand for the right". Princess Claire was understanding right and wrong and was able to repeat these teachings and be an example and teach these truths to others. Beautiful and simple – Be True and Stand for the right.
All of the brilliant medical minds, medications, bone marrow transplant, and treatments allowed Princess Claire to live 7+ years longer than expected blessing the lives of so many. Unfortunately, all that was done could not fight off all of Princess Claire’s ailments. Her body that was tried and tested could not keep up with the broken bones that would not heal, the disease and infections that could not be stopped, and organs that failed.
Princess Claire passed away peacefully at 12:30 am, Friday, April 12, 2013 in her home surrounded by Michael, Debbie, Braeden and Sam.
Although Princess Claire’s mortal time has passed, her family believes and so do many of us here, that she is still writing her own story; that Princess Claire lives on without her body. That as promised through the atonement of Jesus Christ, she will one day be restored with a perfected body and that she and her family can and will be reunited again.
Through Christ’s atonement, we all can be healed and comforted. The Savior promised us that He will strengthen us and buoy us up.
Princess Claire was a great example to us of being loving, sweet, and that in spite of painful conditions, we can be healed by the atonement Jesus Christ and will feel of our loss as Princess Claire would say, “no owies, all better.”
Remember that in Princess Claire stories and in her view of life, there was never anyone who was mean or angry. There were never villains or bad guys, if one slipped into a story she would quickly correct the story and say, “No Nice!”
We started our story today with the introduction that everyone loved the beautiful Princess Claire with her crazy red hair. As evidenced by all of you here, and the almost 100,000 visits to Claire's Caring Bridge site we can see everyone did love her!
We can continually be tremendously blessed by the wonderful joy and happiness that Princess Claire’s memory brings to us daily.
I challenge us all to love as unconditionally as she loved others.
To hug one another and give loves like she did. To say “I love you” with as much regularity, care and thought as she did. It was difficult for Princess Claire to learn to speak and a lot of effort and practice. She would say, “I I I I Love you”. We can practice this and learn to say it more.
To correct ourselves when we are angry or mean and say, “No Nice!”
To rely on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and believe that he can be our Minkie and Cozie and sooth our wounds so we can feel “no owies, all better”.
Given by Claire's special friend, Matthew Balkman