My daughter. What can I say about her that even comes close to how I feel? I know I will fall short of the tribute she deserves. For this, I’m sorry.
Happy Birthday, Kari! We love you so, so much. You bring so much joy to our lives. You make us proud. I don’t know how we got this lucky to have you as our daughter. We hit the jackpot the day you were born. It was a day exactly like today, the sky as blue as cobalt.
Your my inspiration. Yeah, I know you’ve heard this from me before… but you need to hear it again. And again. And again.
I look to you and see a young lady who sacrificed so much for the love of family. Your beauty is both inside and out… it’s in your very essence. Your loyalty and love toward us can never be questioned. I’m sorry you were put through this tragedy. It’s just not fair.
Kari has always amazed me. From the beginning, two decades ago, she would do things that just made me shake my head in astonishment. I suppose I might be the proudest father in the world… well, no one could be prouder.
In all the chaos of the last 21 months, she has been my rock. She has comforted me, cried with me, laughed with me, and scolded me. What would I be without her?
You know, throughout this entire ordeal she has NEVER acted in a selfish way. Never. She grew up much too fast during this time. Vantrease and May robbed her of her senior year in high school, as she spent months upon months right next to Ryan’s hospital bed. She would read him every Facebook post. She would stretch him, give him different things to taste, brush his teeth, hug him, talk to him, and nurture him. She never complained. Not once. Hell, before she even turned 19 years old, she was helping us make life and death decisions.
She walked graduation without me there to cheer her on. I watched her over an internet video feed get her diploma as I sat with Ryan in rehab in New Jersey. I missed her prom photos. She quit lacrosse, a game she loved, because of (and in defense of) Ryan. We worked on her assignments, every day, in the hospital. Once a week we would attach everything to an email and send it to the school.
Kari held my hand throughout the entire criminal trial. I could see the pure disgust and disdain as she looked at Vantrease and May (and their pathetic families). There is no question she understood the special bond we have as a family after seeing how dysfunctional and aggressive families behave and look. Yes, she could likely see a life of anger and aggression permanently etched into their scowling faces.
The trial was taking a toll on me. I had to keep multiple boxes of tissues in my lap to both wipe my eyes and pinch off the nose bleeds that would not stop. She never had to say it, but I could feel her telling me “we got this. No matter what, we got this”. She wouldn’t leave my side (and, truth be told, I didn’t want her too). I’d feel guilty putting this burden on any teenager, let alone my only daughter. But, I was helpless to stop. I needed her, and she was there for me. She’s always there for me.
Yes, Kari, you are no doubt a women now. Lovely in every way. Grown up… so damn hard to believe. Yet, no matter what, you will always be my little girl.
Jane Martellino says
Happy Birthday Kari! We’ve never met but feel connected to you through your brother. May you have a year filled with peace and joy. May you continue on your journey in life and discover more and more about your unique talents and purpose for this world. You are a blessing to your family and I am sure to your friends.
Wishing you both a great day and year!
Carla Liberty says
Happy Birthday to the lovely Kari! Ken, I had to bite my lip to stop from crying while reading your post, and even then I felt that familiar trickle of a warm tear making its way down my cheek. You don’t deserve what is happening to your family. And Kari didn’t deserve missing so much of her senior year in high school. I continue to lift you and your family in prayer. God Bless You, my friend. And God Bless the sweet birthday girl, her lovely momma, and Ryan.
Hope you had a good birthday, Kari. They have taken your senior year and your 19th birthday, but they won’t take your future.
Ken, I fully hope that you and Ryan will be there to cheer Kari on when she graduates from WVU in 2014.
The Colangelis says
Happy Birthday Kari!
Ryan is blessed to have such a wonderful sister in addition to the great parents he has. Strong Family. God bless you guys.
Happy birthday, Kari! You’re a wonderful daughter and sister.
jennifer mosser says
There are just not enough beautiful young people in this world. I am lucky to know of your daughter, if only through your words!
God Bless you and your family. We pray for you daily! Keep fighting!!!
I whenever I think about Ryan I think about it through the point of view of a sister (much like I would assume parents think about it as “what would I do if he was my son”) and I don’t think I could have done what Kari has done and held it together like she has. She is truly extraordinary. Happy birthday Kari! I hope you have a fantastic day, you deserve it.
Jill in Morgantown says
I’ve got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. You all are very lucky to have each other and have that kind of love. I’m so proud of all of you.
Still here and praying in Morgantown
Gail Doyle says
Happy Birthday Kari,…. and Ken that was a beautiful tribute to her .Obviously you and Sue have raised 2 very strong ,loving, caring children,who would do anything for each other ..May God bless them and you and Sue always Love Gail
What a great tribute to your daughter!!
A beautiful tribute to wonderful daughter. Yes, she is a very warm, loving and selfless young lady. Kari you are so very special and you make all of us very proud! You have handled yourself beautifully during the most trying of times. You are truly a remarkable young woman!
Happy, happy birthday to you today!!!!!
Much love, Peggie
What a beautiful gift to your grown-up baby girl. Happy birthday to Kari and best wishes and prayers for more happy family moments to share in the year ahead. Keep leaning on each other for love and strength. Together, you still “got this”.
Happy Birthday Kari !!!
Tim T says
Happy Birthday young lady. Glad to have met you. Take care of that old man of yours. He is a special one, but you knew that already. Say hi to everyone in Ashburn!~
Ken, what a beautiful tribute to your precious daughter. Kari is extraordinary, we love and admire her for all she has survived, all that she is, and all that she will become. Thank God for the blessing of Kari and the light and sparkle she brings to even the darkest of days. I pray Kari has a wonderful birthday. Here is a toast to Kari — a tremendously strong and beautiful young woman who has the power to make great changes in the world. The apple does not fall far from the tree.
Love, hugs, prayers, always … Paula
Happy Birthday, Kari!!