A Letter from McKayla's Dad
The Geisinger family would like to attempt to place in words our appreciation to the staff, students and parents at AMS for their compassion after the tragic loss of our daughter McKayla. We have learned over the last 12 weeks that strength to survive comes from our faith in God, a peace from knowing we constantly expressed love to McKayla, and compassion from those who genuinely feel compelled to express it to you through thoughts, prayers and visits. We miss KK terribly, and are learning slowly how to cope with what feels like her disappearance. The response to our loss was tremendous and beyond anything we would have imagined.
KK had an abnormality in one of the arteries that pumps blood to the heart muscle. Our perfect girl nor her family knew she had it and as the medical examiner stated, typically it is discovered after sudden death. One cardiologist stated that 1 in 100,000 children have this defect and in the State of NH they expect the sudden death of an adolescent as a result every 18 months. Anyone involved with kids should know the many symptoms of someone who has a heart problem, and the symptoms are not simply pain in the chest or arm. If only someone had told us that neck pain is a fairly common symptom of a heart attack, our precious KK may be playing the piano at her sisters graduation as planned. KK would have required heart surgery, but in 98% of all cases the child had a 100% recovery. For more information you could visit www.americanheart.org and click on the heart attack and stroke warnings signs.
I also am compelled to mention to you that your AMS school staff, who some of them directly experienced the unimaginable, immediately responded to this tragedy in a way that was professional, compassionate, and considerate of ours, as well as everyone’s varying feelings. Tragedy struck suddenly, and from the onset, though grieving themselves, put in to place a plan to ensure that every child was back in their parents arms quickly and had the resources available to help them understand what they were feeling. Our daughter Amanda Graduates from AMS next week and we are saddened that we will no longer be involved with such a stellar group of people who work and volunteer at AMS. Our hearts are forever thankful.
Many parents contributed to the McKayla Geisinger Memorial fund, and some even gave their refund from the cancelled camp trip and we are happy to say that your contribution is tax deductible, and were generous enough that we can support an award in both Amherst and Mont Vernon schools for many years to come. Your generosity means that we can hear our daughters name mentioned in front of many people every year and that is something that will touch us more than you can understand.
Meals are brought to us every night from caring people many of whom we did not know. The compassion of people is a powerful medicine that aids healing in a way traditional medicine can not. Grieving is very tiring physically, and after a day of struggling to distract yourself from sadness while at work, to come home to a meal that someone made for you because they care, well, it could be liver and onions but it would taste like prime rib. We all live in an area that is full of warm caring people who need to express their sorrow in whatever way they can and we are all very lucky.
Finally, we must mention with sincere gratitude the many memorials people have created to our precious girl. The Amherst Soccer Club has petitioned the school board to name one of the new soccer fields in memory of McKayla, the MV Recreation committee contributed all proceeds from the Spring Gala Fun Run to go to KK’s fund to be used for the benefit of MV kids, AMS will have a McKayla Geisinger Music Award, the MV Village school created an area in the bird garden for McKayla’s memory, trees have been planted all around in her memory, moments of silence at school events, school programs dedicated to our little girl, bake sales, lemonade stands, prayer cards, all of this and more is more than our humble family can comprehend. We are so proud of our McKayla.
On the morning that Maureen dropped KK off at the bus leaving for camp, she told me how proud she was of KK and that “she was really going to go places”. In our long lives, we can only hope to make an impact on people, in KK’s short life, she did.