Words of Remembrance for Heather Halling
By Kristin Gee
June 15, 2006
Phil and Leah wish to extend their deepest thanks to all who supported them this long year. Many people, even strangers, helped them by giving of themselves and their resources. This support is part of the answer to the question asked so often of Phil and Leah, "How do you do it?" The care and support of others makes them strong. But they also found in themselves an inner strength that is a gift from God. They had no choice but to keep putting one foot in front of the other and to keep dealing with each new challenge.
They wish to extend their appreciation to their employers, Innovent and Rainbow Foods, and especially to their bosses, who have been very flexible and good to them. Thank you also to the friends who offered natural cures and miracle medicines and far-away treatments, anything to make her better! Phil and Leah wanted to keep Heather surrounded by family. Leah said, "Heather knows she gets a lot of attention here, so she hangs out around here."
Through this process, Leah learned to see and appreciate the good in people and all around. "Heather showed us the beautiful things in life and how to be strong." Leah learned to see what is most important in life and she found in Phil a very attentive, affectionate, and understanding husband and father. "He is a good daddy." Phil had it in him and so did Leah and Kendra. They have been strong; and, in part, that is because of you. Thank you!
It seemed to Phil and Leah a long wait for their second child. When they were finally expecting, it was a rough pregnancy. Leah was in and out of the hospital and on bed rest for months. When their baby girl arrived, she was 5 weeks early but weighted almost 7 pounds. Heather Danielle Halling was born on August 11, 2003; the very day that her Great-Grandma Edna Halling left us for heaven at almost 99 years of age. Heather's middle name, Danielle, is for her uncle, Dan, who never got to see his precious nieces.
Of course, little Heather was well worth the wait. She was a bundle of joy and was very outgoing. She was always fond of music and Leah's family noticed Heather humming to herself at only 3 months old. By singing, she was able to put herself to sleep. She progressed normally for her first year and a half. She was a good eater before she got sick and some of her favorites were chicken, rice, fish, and cookies. She got people's attention everywhere she went and attached to people easily. Heather loved to go visiting and like to go to the mall. Phil joked that Heather was like her mother. Heather loved her hair to be braided and she liked lots of accessories. She loved to be pretty.
The girls often slept overnight with Grandpa Bart and Rosie, who became kind of second parents to Heather. When she was at their house, she liked to watch the singing and dancing on the Philippine channel. Sometimes she only wanted Rosie and would say, "I want naney (nah-nai)." And to Bart, she would say, "Lolo, I want cape." What they gave her was basically coffee-mate, but she thought she was having coffee.
When Heather started limping and saying, "Owie" about a year ago, it was just the start of much uncertainly, lots of tests, bad news, many hospital stays, lots of medications, chemo treatments, and radiation. The mental, emotional, and physical strain on Phil and Leah was at times almost too much to bear; but they never gave up and they never lost hope for their little girl. We all wanted a miracle for Heather; but she herself was a miracle. During this life we may always wonder "why?" but we can hang on to the hope of seeing Heather again. Jesus said, "Let the little children come unto me." Jesus is holding Heather right now and she wouldn't come back if she could.
During her treatments, Heather was cooperative and remembered the routine at the clinic. She would raise her arm, open her mouth, and offer both ears. During radiation, Heather did not give Phil and Leah a hard time, even though she would wake up every day after radiation distressed. Heather did want to be asked if her vitals were to be taken somewhere different, such as on her leg, so she could give her OK or not. And she was known to tell a few nurses and others, "No way!"
Heather was promised a treat or other reward after each radiation treatment. One nurse, who became attached to Heather, gave Heather a bottle of her daughter's nail polish. She even did Heather's nails a few times. Toward the end of the treatments, Heather would get 2 bottles of nail polish, one for each hand. If she saw 3 or 4, she wanted all of them. Pretty soon she wanted the whole bag. She got it, of course, and Leah had to bring the bag back so the nurse had it to give again.
Heather decided that her favorite color was yellow, which is her grandma's favorite color, too. She never wavered on this and noticed yellow things everywhere. She wanted to wear yellow all the time. When her parents needed to change her clothes and she was mad about it, as long as the outfit was another yellow one, it was OK.
Heather loved to collect things and she like coins. Last month, at Grandpa Chuck's funeral visitation, Heather was giving kisses for money for her trip to Florida. When they counted all the coins, she had collected about $30.
Wishes And More sent the family to Florida where they enjoyed the Magic Kingdom and Sea World. Kendra and Heather loved playing in the sand and collecting shells at the beach. At the village' "Give Kids the World'" they experienced caves, waterfalls, and a big gingerbread house. Heather was happy on the carousel and entered the fantasy world of everlasting ice cream. At Universal Studios, they saw Fear Factor and a tornado storm with thunder and fire and buildings blowing up. Heather wasn't scared. In the 3-D movie, it was very loud and the chairs were really moving. Kendra was scared, but not Heather; she seemed to enjoy it all.
Grandma Cely and Kendra stayed in the adjoining room at the hotel. The last night before they flew home, the air conditioner was making Grandma Cely sneeze. She sneezed many, many times during the night; and each time it made Heather giggle. Every time she saw Grandma Cely after that, Heather teased her by saying, "Naney achoo! Naney achoo!"
Heather had a zest for life even when she was physically wiped out. A couple of weeks ago, Grandma Nancy and Aunt Emilie took her to the Como Zoo. When Heather heard they were going to the zoo, she quickly added things to her purses, including coins of course, animals, probably nail polish, and even cars. She clutched her two purses tightly and wouldn't let them go. At the zoo, as soon as she saw each animal, she got so excited and immediately looked for Grandma Nancy and motioned her over to make sure she saw it, too. Heather was more excited to share the experience than in seeing the animal herself.
Heather shared many experiences with her big sister, Kendra. Heather adored "ate." They played a lot of pretend together and Kendra was always teaching heather new games. Kendra helped to take good care of baby Heather and was the best sister a little girl could ask for. I have Kendra's Barbie "Fun 4 Friends" activity book. She did some of these activities with Heather and, on the back cover, Kendra filled in the blanks of "A Take of Friendship!" It reads: "My best friend is Heather. I like her because she is nice and clever. One of her favorite things is egg toys. We really like to play together. Sometimes we go to McDonald's. We had so much fun together. We're good friends because she is my sister.
Just a couple of days before she passed away, Heather had a car ride at the mall on a quarter machine. She was holding tight to the steering wheel and it was rocking and very jerky. She wasn't scared at all. She just wasn't scared, right up to the end. And she didn't want others feeling sorry for her. When Phil and Leah were feeling bad and staring sadly at her, Heather got mad and said, "No!" and covered her face. She wanted people to always be happy.
She did make so many people happy. I know that you realize what a very special girl Heather was. She was loved deeply by so many. Even complete strangers seemed to notice how special she was. Many of you have fond memories of a charming girl. I treasure the times I had with her. What a sense of humor she had! My boys loved to play with her. Our collection of pretend food doesn't get played with much anymore. But, when Heather was over, they all did silly things like putting fried eggs on their heads.
Heather said, "owie" here and there; but, most of the time, she never showed that she had had enough. She was brave and tough. She was always smiling, even when she was sick. She had a winning personality.
She lived her life to the fullest; and, when she left this earth, Heather flew to heaven as fast as she could go. She is there now, singing and dancing in her new body. Maybe she's singing "The Butterfly Song." She can run around now without anything attached to her. No more tumor and no more g-tube. I know that Heather is looking down on us right now and blowing kisses and saying to us, "just believe like a little child. Trust in Jesus. I'll be here waiting for you."