As a parent, there are some things that we simply never want to have to discuss with our children, without a doubt the toughest is having a discussion with your child regarding his passing away.
The idea that your child might be so sick that they didn’t survive, is something that no parent even wants to think about for a second.
Still, life can sometimes be cruel, and when Bill Kohler’s son fell ill, conversations about death became inevitable.
Ayden was only nine years old when he was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of brain cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).
Children who are diagnosed with the disease usually die within one year, writes the US National Institute of Health.
But the bad news doesn’t stop there. Ayden didn’t just have one tumor on his brainstem — he had two.
As every parent would, Bill tried to do everything in his power to try to save his son, but nothing could have helped.
His father, Bill, was a medic and had completed his tour in Iraq, Kohler, so he knew a lot more than the average parent would about these things, especially about what it was like to lose people, he just didn’t expect it to be his son he was going to lose.
“I was a medic in the war, you know, and you fix things …And this was something I couldn’t even touch.”
When Bill finally accepted that his son wouldn’t survive, he promised his son one thing: that he would do all that he could to make Ayden’s last days on earth as good as they could be.
He met WWE wrestling stars, spent time chatting to celebrity chef Guy Fieri using FaceTime, he hunting in the woods with his dad, went fishing and joined team members of the York Generals, a semi-professional football team to help them with a fundraiser.
“We looked at the day, and we looked at how we could make that day the best we could,” Ayden’s mother Jennifer Zeigler told Public Opinion.
But then the time that the all dreaded finally arrived.
It was all becoming too much for Ayden and he just couldn’t even walk, eat or even breathe very well…
He then said the words to his father, his father hoped he would never have to hear those words from his son.
He no longer had the energy to keep up the fight, and he said to his father, “Dad, I gotta quit.”
These are words that no parent ever wants to hear their child say, and how could you possibly respond?
Bill answered the only way he knew:
”I’ll make you a promise. If you’ve fought as much as you can and as hard as you can and you feel you fought that hard… I promise you, it’s okay to quit.”
10-year-old Ayden Zeigler-Kohler died on March 22, 2017 — less than eight months after being diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer.
His final wish?
”If people gather to remember me, I want them to dance, sing, and take group pictures,” Ayden said.
”And if anyone asks how I want to be remembered, please say happy, funny, athletic, wise, fighter, caring, and selfless.”
Even though Ayden has become an angel does not remain on earth, his memory lives and remains forever.
His legacy lives on, donation made in his name to the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center continue to pay for the much-needed research against DIPG.
I’m sorry for your loss, what a brave little soldier Ayden was to the end. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this sweet brave little boy!
May you find comfort in your cherished memories! To his Dad: Thank you for your Service and raising such a brave little fighter! ❤
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