Life Doesn’t Stink

My memory is sputtering. A few things I vividly remember and some come back when I’m reminded or when I see a picture. I fear I am forgetting more and more with every passing day; a fact that scares me greatly since I’ve lost Kylie. I don’t want to forget a thing about her. I want to remember the sound of her voice, the peal of her laughter, and the smell of her head after a bath. I yearn to hold those things in storage for instant recall when my heart aches and the separation seems greatest.

One thing, though. One thing I will never forget.

It was the summer of 2015 and Kylie was in the midst of some of the harshest treatment she would endure. The chemo gave her mouth sores that ranged throughout her digestive tract and made eating nearly impossible. She was also plagued with violent nausea that added to her discomfort. It was rough.

There was a trend going around Twitter at the time. Alicia Keys began a movement by asking the question, “Why are you here?” and people responded. The goal was to have people identify causes that stirred them to action and all over Twitter we saw #wearehere posts.

It’s a daunting question, really. Why are you here? Have we asked ourselves that enough?

I asked Kylie.

At first, she balked. “I’m only twelve. I don’t know.”

But I wouldn’t let her off the hook. I suggested that she was here to encourage others, to help them get through their hard time. Or maybe she was here to be the voice of children with cancer so that we could break through the funding gap. And then, I had it…

“You’re here to show people that you can still smile, even when life stinks.”

I remember her reaction as if it were yesterday. Kylie was instantly repulsed by my suggestion, but not at all in the way I expected. And this is a peek into the window of her soul – what made her so special. She was so quick to point out:

“Daddy, life doesn’t stink. It’s just not fair sometimes.”

I am here

Life doesn’t stink.

Are you sure? I’m sitting in this broken life wondering how I got here… How I went from four children at our dinner table to three. How I celebrated your sixteenth birthday without you. How I’ll never get to teach you to drive, see you graduate, perform on stage, or walk you down the aisle. Are you sure life doesn’t stink, baby?

Yet when I reread that paragraph, I noticed something very important. Something I think Kylie figured out in twelve years that is still lost on me at fifty. There is a proliferation of “I’s”. My stinky life is all about me and what I am missing. What I want. How I feel. I… I… I…

Is it possible that life doesn’t stink regardless of our circumstanced IF and only if we figure out that we are NOT here to waste it on ourselves? How did Kylie inherently know that at twelve?

In the Life Doesn’t Stink category, over the past few weeks, we got a few little Godwinks in the form of pictures of Kylie we had never seen. Her sister completely “stumbled” upon one and others were shared by friends.


That doesn’t stink!

We have also been blown away by friends and many strangers as we sought to redeem the day. A week before her birthday, we asked people to celebrate Kylie’s Sweet $16 by donating $16 to childhood cancer research. We started the fundraiser with a goal of $3200. That line was crossed in one day. So we doubled the goal and passed that two days later. Between what was donated online and checks people sent, we raised a little over $14,000!


That most certainly doesn’t stink!


Does life stink or can it stink at times? I don’t know. Maybe, just maybe in a few years I’ll get it. I’ll be able to know like Kylie did that life is meant to be lived unselfishly and it truly doesn’t stink… it just isn’t fair sometimes.




16 thoughts on “Life Doesn’t Stink

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t think of a greater pain than to lose a child. Kudos to you for doing something positive with your pain. Kylie would be proud, I’m sure. ((Hugs))

  2. What a great kid she was! Especially love the ballet photo and as always find myself sad that she was gone before I knew who she was.

  3. My thoughts on this is that life doesn’t stink but circumstances can definitely stink a whole lot.

    I’ve been depressed and suicidal more times than I ever want to count and the thing that made me realise that my feelings may not always be the most important was to lose a person who meant the world to me, I realized that I would have to make the choice of staying alive, because I couldn’t inflict the suffering I’m going through on anyone else, no matter what I may feel.
    After that my world shifted to a new path where even though I will have to live with reoccurring depressions til I die, life itself is a beautiful thing, even when the circumstances are so horrible that I wonder how I can survive it.
    Every time I feel that way, I try think that why would I want this person to be here with me if life wasn’t so very precious?
    Life may hurt a lot, but today I still want to go through with it.

    So I agree wholeheartedly with Kylie, life doesn’t stink but it can be horribly unfair at times.

  4. Mark, Beautiful words & meaning! You will always remember every thing about KYLIE💖
    They will always be in the GODWINKS! Look everyday

  5. I’ve been blessed with a lot more years than Kylie was. The challenge is to continue to contribute to the goodness in the world, in a commensurate amount to the largesse in the number of years I’ve been granted. Thank you for continuing to remind me.

    1. Hmmm. Interesting thought. I’m not sure I can catch up to Kylie and some of the other kids I meet who were taken too soon no matter how long I live. To your point, as long as we are trying…

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