Today my brother Karson Wessels would have celebrated his 33rd birthday. But 5 years ago, cancer overtook his body. He was originally diagnosed with cancer on his 22nd birthday when he had a seizure while he was in class at Oregon State University. He was rushed to the hospital where they found a tumor the size of a golf ball in his brain. He went into surgery right away, and followed with chemo and radiation treatment. He knocked that cancer down like he was on top of the world and soon he was in remission.
Karson went on to finish college with a degree in soil sciences. He got married to Macey, a beautiful, strong woman, and our dad stood beside him during the wedding as his best friend and best man. Karson lived with vitality, charisma and a calmness that I will never know. Soon, Macey became pregnant, but before the blessed little girl was born, bad news came. We had just celebrated Karson’s fifth year in remission. The doctors said if he could get past five years in remission, the chances of the cancer coming back would be slim. But the chances were not slim enough.
With a baby on the way, Karson’s cancer was back and he started treatment again. This time, the battle was not as easy as the first. His medication had a serious toll on his body. He was swollen and puffy and even though he always kept his positive, fighting spirit, you could tell his body was struggling. I believe it was his attitude that kept him fighting for so long. He got to see the birth of his baby girl and stayed home with her for her first year (while he was doing treatments). He fought hard to the very end in body and spirit. Though his spirit was strong, his body was fighting so hard against the cancer, he eventually fell victim to other infections. We lost him and our lives were forever changed.
Although I believe there is a heaven, I really struggled with the idea of how Karson could just be gone. How could he be here one minute and the next, he was gone?! I finally realized, many, many, many blubbering tears, wails and sobs later, that Karson isn’t gone. His spirit has been left with everyone who knew him. His spirit is in his little girl who is now 6 years old. His spirit is in our family who is now closer than ever. Though we were always a tight-knit family we all live in the same town now and never take our time together for granted. We are able to let the little things go that might have bothered us before. We know the pain of loss, the preciousness that we call life, and the spirit of a fighter. I will honestly say, I live my life differently.
Yes, we lost Karson. I wish Addy could know her dad. I wish my husband could know him. I know they would have been great friends. I wish my dad could take Karson fishing one more time. And I wish I could take one more combine ride with him. When Karson died, we all lost so much. But in the end, we were also given so much. The tears will never end, but I know Karson’s spirit is in me and I consider it a real gift. One I wish I could take back, but a gift nonetheless.
I miss you everyday.