Order amid Chaos

Holly Warnet

A Fathers Story

I remember being on vacation at New York's Lake George with my son Danny and my stepson Sean. I remember seeing a notice at the front desk of the Inn, for me to call my wife, April, at home. When I did I couldn't believe what I had heard. Hearing that my stepdaughter Holly had cancer went right through me. You know its real, yet, it just doesn't register. Holly was only a teenager. After that it was like remote control. You do what you have to do. I needed to be strong for the family no matter what was to happen. I didn't know what was going to happen or how serious it was. I left my vacation and went right home. My parents took care of the boys.

Trying to write this is very difficult. It brings back a lot of memories that I don't want to think about. I mean I think about Holly everyday. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Your children should not die before you do. As a stepparent I was involved with this like Holly was my own daughter. We fought a lot, but in the end we made peace with one another.

For four years it was only my wife April and myself who would take care of Holly and her daughter Kaitlyn. While April was at the hospital with Holly I would take care of our two boys, and Kaitlyn. I would get her ready in the morning, feed and dress her, feed the boys breakfast before school, and then drop off Kaitlyn at the babysitters, before going to work. Pick her up after work and make dinner for her and the boys.

Sometime though we would change and I would take Holly to the hospital and April would take care of the family. Times were very hard and difficult. We needed to take care of Holly and Kaitlyn, but also needed to take care of two boys. Making good decisions and thinking straight were not one of our better qualities now.

I remember one morning taking Holly to Kimball Hospital in Lakewood at 4 in the morning. Holly had a 105-degree temperature and no immune system. They couldn't do anything for her, so I had to drive her to Philadelphia. When we got there she actually walked in with me. Nurses and doctors literally pushed me to the side to take care of Holly.

I remember every time we got to the Bridge to go into Philadelphia Holly would get sick. Just the thought of chemotherapy did it. She was so strong though. I never saw her cry or heard her complain. I asked her once how she could cope with this, and she just looked at me and said. " What choice do I have"?

The most vivid memory I have is Holly's last days. I was at work when April called me and told me she had called 911 and that they had taken Holly to the hospital. She told me that Holly would not make it out of the hospital this time. I left work immediately and drove to the hospital. By the time I had gotten there, Holly could no longer speak. She would look at us with dark eyes, going back and forth looking at her mom and me as we spoke to her. Only a little while later, Holly fell into a coma. We brought Kaitlyn in and let her give her mother a kiss and hug. Holly was not coming home! Later that evening, we came home and went to sleep. Kaitlyn slept between us in our bed. At about 4 o'clock in the morning the phone rang. April answered it and she was told to come immediately to the hospital. Holly had little time left. I stayed to watch Kaitlyn. The boys were sleeping. At about 6 o'clock the phone rang again, this time it was April calling to tell me that Holly had just died. I remember lying there and crying, and looking at Kaitlyn, who was 1 year old, and feeling the pain for her. She was too young to know what was happening. And she will probably never remember her mother.