Update: Missing woman and 3-year-old son found dead in remote area

The bodies of missing Oregon woman Karissa Fretwell and her 3-year-old son William have been found in a remote area in Yamhill County, according to reports.

KPTV relay that the 25-year-old mom and her young child were reported missing in May, with family members having confirmed they had not heard from them since May 13.

Yesterday, June 16, the bodies of Karissa and William were identified after detectives lead searchers to a remote area in Yamhill County, 10 miles west of Yamhill, central Oregon


Karissa was found to have sustained a single gunshot wound, with officials stating her death was a homicide. Billy’s official cause of death, however, has not yet been determined.

52-year-old Michael John Wolfe, William’s biological father, was charged back in May with two counts of aggravated murder and two counts of kidnapping.

The Oregonian had reported that Fretwell recently appeared in court over a dispute with Wolfe. A Yamhill County judge went on to rule that Wolfe had to pay close to $1,000 a month in child support to the mother of his child, though this didn’t sit well with the man himself.

Unusual texts

One of Fretwell’s friends, Megan Harper, spoke to KATU2 about the custody battle, explaining: “My first thought when she first went missing was that he’d done something.

“That was her fear, him taking her child away.”

“There were all of these warning signs. Like, he would send her creepy things in the mail,” Harper said.

The investigation into the case is ongoing, the sheriff’s office has confirmed. Those with any relevant information are urged to call the Salem Police Department or leave information on the tip line at 503-588-6050.

Rest in peace, Karissa and William. We hope the person/people responsible get the justice that’s coming to them.

Please share this story to honor the memory of the mother and son who needlessly had their lives stolen from them.

After 9 years, couple finally open wedding gift that aunt told them not to open

It’s a common practise to purchase gifts for a couple who are to become newlyweds. Getting something you think will help them in married life isn’t unusual, neither is something sentimental that might speak to more than what money can buy.

I can recall my wedding day, and the fact that some months later there were still vouchers to be cashed in and bits and bobs to be assembled around the house. Which is why the story of Kathy and Brandon Gunn was of particular interest to me. You see, Kathy and Brandon had been married for 9 whole years and still had yet to open one last wedding present.

The gift came in a white box that they’d left sitting atop a shelf in their closet. The bridge’s great aunt, Aunt Alison, had gifted them it, and scribbled across an envelope attached to the package were the words: “Do not open until first disagreement” …

When Aunt Alison first handed the Michigan couple the package, they agreed they would honor her wishes and abstain from opening it.

Of course, they had squabbles and the occasional fallout over the years, as all couples do, but they continually refused to open the box for a different reason than she had intended.

In a post written by Kathy, she explained their reason behind keeping the box sealed: “There had obviously been plenty of disagreements, arguments and slammed doors throughout our 9 years. There were even a couple of instances where we both considered giving up… but we never opened the box.

“I honestly think that we both avoided turning to the box, because it would have symbolized our failure. To us, it would have meant that we didn’t have what it takes to make our marriage work – and we’re both too stubborn and determined for that. So, it forced us to reassess situations. Was it really time to open the box? What if this isn’t our worst fight? What if there’s a worse one ahead of us and we don’t have our box?!? As my Great Uncle Bill would say, ‘Nothing is ever so bad that it couldn’t get worse.’”

Then, one night, it all changed. Kathy and Brandon had put their two young children to bed and were enjoying a glass of wine. A conversation was started regarding an upcoming wedding they were attending in Kalamazoo, where they had met and attended college.

In the midst of the excited discussion, they began to bounce ideas as to what they might get for the new couple in terms of a gift. It was then that Kathy thought back to their own wedding day, and which gift had left a lasting impression.

“The funny thing? The gift that meant the very most was still sitting in a closet… unopened,” Kathy said.

The box had stayed in a closet for nine years and three house moves, the couple too scared to open it incase there was an occasion in the future where they needed it more.

On that evening, however, as they talked about the upcoming wedding of their friends, they decided it was finally time to open the box.

Inside were two hand-written notes – one addressed to Barndon and one addressed to Kathy – as well as some cash.

“Go get a pizza, shrimp or something you both like,” the note to Kathy read, while Brandon’s told him to “Go get flowers and a bottle of wine.”

There was also a crystal flower vase, two crystal wine glasses, bath soap, lotion, and bubbles, all designed to help Kathy and Brandon overcome any argument or trouble they might have faced.

It wasn’t the material objects that meant as much to Kathy, however, as the powerful message imbued within the gesture of giving them.

“All along, we assumed that the contents of that box held the key to saving a marriage – an age-old trick – unbeknownst to us rookies,” Kathy explained. “After all, my Great Aunt and Uncle had been married for nearly half a century. So, we thought the box would save ‘us’ – and in a way it did.”

With the box an ever-present, tantalising option, it served to teach the couple patience, understanding and compromise when they might have simply turned to it at the first opportunity.

In the end, they didn’t have to open the box when they were struggling, but rather when their marriage was strong.

What a wonderful story, and what a brilliant gift by Aunt Alison!

The path of love is never straight forward, never easy to navigate. Yet when that love is real, fighting for what you have and wading through the difficult times together is as important as ever saying ‘I love you’ in the first place.

Share this article if you think love should always be given every chance.

5 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Began Meditating

I came from India, and because of my medical background, I had looked into the health benefits of meditation. So when I think of five things that I wish I’d known 30 years ago, I would amend the topic to “things I wish everyone knew.”

Meditation is natural. It’s not an exotic import from the East and the cultural values of the East.
Meditation is about mind, body, and spirit as one continuous whole, not three separate things.
The benefits of meditation probably go deeper than we imagine. At the very least, genetic activity responds very quickly and substantially to meditation.
Meditation uncovers the true self that lies at the core of every person.
The state of pure awareness that is reached through meditation is the ground state of everything.
I wasn’t completely unknowing about these things. Three decades ago, the mind-body connection was quickly emerging, with research to back up experiences that had previously been dismissed as subjective, religious, alien to Western values, or pure fantasy. But I did assume, wrongly, that meditation was somehow in my genes as an Indian, and this would make me a “natural,” while my Western friends who meditated were driving with a learner’s permit, so to speak.

As you look over the five things I’ve listed, their importance will vary, of course, depending on your background, how long you have meditated, and other factors personal to you alone. But one common thread runs through the list: There is a hidden reality in human awareness.

I use a fairly neutral term, the true self, so that this hidden reality doesn’t get confused with various religious traditions. In the world’s wisdom traditions, there is always the contrast between two states of consciousness. The first is the state of duality or separation. The second is the state of wholeness or unity consciousness.

From all appearances, separation is natural, because the reality we confront on a daily basis consists of opposites: good and bad, light and dark, pleasure and pain etc. Our minds are conditioned to “solve” duality by choosing the preferable side of each opposite. Therefore, we try to be good, moral people who abide by humane values. But somehow the state of separation perpetuates suffering, no matter how good, pure, and well-intentioned you are. Therefore, for thousands of years there have been wisdom traditions that say, “Separation is a given if you choose to remain in a certain state of awareness. It feels natural because you accept that the mind is the same as the contents of the mind, all the thoughts, images, desires, and sensations that fill your head. But this activity takes place against a background that is silent, whole, and free of suffering. This is your true self, and when you arrive here, wholeness is just as natural as separation.”

In every tradition, this promise of a higher state of consciousness is central. In modern language, consciousness is like a movie screen on which any movie can be projected. No matter what happens in the movie, the screen isn’t affected. Therefore, each person has a choice between an “I” that is at the center of constant activity or an “I” that is consciousness itself. The five things I listed are entry-level realizations, one might say, that allow your mind, even though it is steeped in duality and the play of opposites, to see another facet of itself. That’s the first and most precious thing, to see an opening to wholeness.

When I started meditating, and to some extent today, it was clear to me that people are reluctant to start the practice unless you hold out incentives that appeal to the separate self, or ego. This is certainly valid. The mind-body benefits of meditating have been proven through hundreds of studies. At the other end of the scale, other people are persuaded to start basically to become spiritually pure and improved in their sense of self. This is also valid, but it subtly places spirit in a privileged position above mind and body. The truth is that wholeness can’t be achieved like a jigsaw puzzle by assembling a collection of pieces.

Wholeness is a state all its own. If it wasn’t, someone could come along and tear apart the jigsaw puzzle you so carefully assembled. But being a state all its own, wholeness or unity consciousness is the ground state of being. It is the womb of creation, the only real “stuff” from which the world “in here” and the world “out there” are created. Thus, meditation is mysterious in its ability to transform someone because no matter how much harm the state of separation has created, both personally and for society, each of us is inseparably whole. How can we be whole and not know it? That’s the mystery that meditation presents. At the same time, it presents the answer to the mystery: Wholeness is the silent ground of existence and therefore cannot be known as a thing, the way we know other things like rocks, clouds, and trees.

When awareness is aware of itself, it is whole. When awareness focuses on an object, either “in here” or “out there,” the state of wholeness is disguised. You become the observer of something that seems to be outside yourself. In reality, the entire universe exists in consciousness; therefore, all experience is in you.

To know and understand this would have been too much for me to ask of myself when I first began to meditate. Looking back over my shoulder—with the awareness that meditation has created over the years—I appreciate the process that takes any person out of separation into wholeness. Life has come down to this one choice, and by meditating, the choice to be whole happens naturally.

Powerful Daily Morning Prayer to Start Your Day Right

Do you have a daily morning prayer you use to start your days off right and get the inspiration you need to go about your daily routines?

Morning prayer is such a wonderful way to prepare for a brand new day.

I am excited to share with you a simple morning prayer that you can use to start your day off now.

This beautiful morning prayer will allow you to link up with the light of the Infinite, the love of Source, and the presence of your guides and angels so you can invoke their support, help, guidance, and assistance to help you in making the most of a brand new day.

Best Time to Say A Short Morning Prayer
You can do this prayer right when you wake up, when you’re still laying in bed as a way to start the day off with gratitude and connecting with the Divine.

It could also be done mid-morning or really whenever it feels right to you, but essentially it’s always best before you pray, to center your energy and focus your awareness with.

Then when you pray from a solely stream of consciousness mode of mind, your prayers are valid and will be heard to some extent, but you can elevate the vibration of your prayer by connecting with an open heart, a clear mind, and a willing spirit.

How to Use This Daily Morning Prayer
By connecting and praying from a place of elevated vibration, your prayers are more easily heard and your experience of prayer actually becomes something that shifts your energy, connects you with the divine, raises your vibration, and aligns blessings into your life.

So a simple morning prayer that I like to do is to begin by closing your eyes and shifting your awareness within focusing your awareness on your heart center, tuning into divine light and life force energy within you.

A Beautiful Morning Prayer to Say Each Day
Let your heart open to the divine light and then aloud or in your mind think or say:

“Beloved Divine Source of All That Is. The One.
Beloved Christ. Light. Solar Logos.
Beloved Guardian Angels, Holy Spirit.

Thank you for another day of being alive on the earth plane.
Thank you for this opportunity to be alive. To cultivate an inner connection with divine light and to progress on my path of embodying my highest divine light.

Beloved Archangel Michael, Archangel Metatron, beloved Archangel Uriel, beloved ascended masters, Holy Beings, guides and guardians of the middle path of highest light.

Thank you for all the blessings in my life. Thank you for your support and guidance, for your encouragement and for your love.

I ask that you assist me this day in staying open to the blessings of divine opportunity, in staying positive and centered in gratitude and love.

Help me to maintain a love vibration throughout my entire day.

Help me to stay centered, positive and aligned with the highest divine perspective and outlook for whatever happens in my life.

I ask that you clearly guide and assist me today. Align me with the miracles of divine possibility.

Bless every area of my life. Bless my energy, help me to show up fully shining and embodying divine light through all that I do so that my life is of service to others so that my light creates waves and ripples in the field of all that is, helping others to brightly shine.

I ask that you bring me clear guidance to keep me on track with my highest direction today and helped me to see and receive, to know your guidance, wisdom, and love.

Bring me miracles and blessings of divine possibility and help me today to embody, shine and thrive, living in alignment with divine love and light.

I think you, I love you.

And so it is.

You can use the exact words above to complete a morning prayer yourself, invoking your guides and starting your day off with a morning prayer of positivity, of love, and especially, inviting in Source light blessings, divine guidance, and miracles of divine love into your life.

These things are available to you, but you are a human being and you have free will. So if you want guidance, assistance, and higher divine intervention, it’s up to you to ask for assistance, and then be open.

Make it a Habit to Say a Morning Prayer for Blessings of Peace and Positivity in Your Life
Once you say a morning prayer and ask for assistance. Then be open! Stay open in a place of having a clear mind, your heart open, willingness within your core and willing to receive the guidance and inspiration of spirit and the willingness to act upon the guidance and inspiration you receive.

With this, you can make today, and make this moment now the very best yet because you are centered in love and open to the miracle, the blessing of divine light that is all around, that simply takes tuning in.

Remember that each new day is an opportunity to cultivate your direct link with the light of the infinite, with the love of source, with higher divine consciousness to embody it through you and to shine.

As always, the light in me is a reflection of the light in you. Keep shining because it is beautiful.

With love and bright blessings,

How To Free Yourself From Negative Thoughts Fast!

Negative thoughts can lead you astray from creating the life you desire. Get out of the negative spiral with this powerful and simple process. You can stop negativity in its tracks when you recognize that negative thinking does not do anything to improve your situation.

The Purpose of Negative Thoughts
There’s a little sneakiness on behalf of the ego. The lower ego mind believes that negativity serves a purpose. That worrying about someone is helping them in some way, when in fact this is not true! It’s a trap.

Worry, doubt, and shame lowers your vibration and amplifies more potential situations that keep you locked into a perpetuating cycle of creating negative thinking and challenging experiences. When you have a negative outlook on life, your focus of attention is negativity and that is what you create.

The real secret here is to change the way you perceive your situation, in order to move into cultivating and creating the positive experiences that are possible for you in your life.

The Power of Positivity
Staying positive is so powerful. There are many references in books and Law of Attraction material that demonstrate how positively changing your thoughts, can change your life. And it makes sense. When you have a positive outlook on the world, your day feels brighter.

But believe me, it’s not always easy to positively change your thoughts in an instant. I understand that the voice of negativity, fear, doubt, worry, judgment can be so loud.

That’s where this simple process comes in to stop negative thinking in its tracks, and take back control over your own mind, so you can start living consciously and joyfully.

Use This Positive Visualization To Stop Negative Thinking

Recap Of The Process to Stop Negativity
Become aware of your thoughts, and identify the presence of negative thinking.
Focus your awareness within the center of your mind and be present.
Imagine that you, with all of your attention and awareness, are actually present inside the center of your mind.
Feel and observe the quality of energy, color, shape, and texture at the center of your mind.
Call upon your Guardian Angel to surround you and fill your mind with golden light.
With your inner divine light energy, with authority and tapping into your personal power, push out negative thoughts from your mind with light.
Visualize yourself standing in your mind with your guardian angel, literally pushing out negativity.
Give negativity a color, a feeling, or shape and see yourself in your mind’s eye, filled with divine golden light energy, pushing out the negative energy.
Once you’ve pushed out negative thoughts, refocus your mind on positivity and things you have to be grateful for here and now.
Visualize Yourself Pushing out Negative thoughts
Take all the time you need with this exercise. Stay present in your mental sphere, and ask your guardian angel for help.

If you’d like assistance, ask your guardian angels as they’re more than happy to assist you in pushing out the negative thoughts, pushing them out of your mind, out of your consciousness, and out of the present point in time.

When you push out negativity, it becomes so much easier to peace, presence, and stillness within. Keep tuning into the golden light and angels surrounding you. When your mind feels clear, let go of focusing on this exercise of pushing out, and just feel into the lightness and peace that has always been present beneath the layers of negativity.

When you clear your mind of negativity and all the energies that weigh you down, you open the door to receiving inspiration, uplifting and positivity that uplifts, inspires, and blesses you.

Reset Your Mind With Gratitude
Now that your mind has cleared of negative thoughts, take a moment to re-center in the present moment through gratitude. Fill your mind with gratitude, with love, or with a blessing.

Instead of worrying or fretting about whatever you’ve just pushed out, focus towards what you are grateful for.

Make a Gratitude List
Go through a list of all the things you’re grateful for. What nourishes you? What energizes you? Name something outside in nature that is beautiful to you. Notice the things you have that have made your life easier! Express appreciation for your loved ones and the blessings you have and can create in life.

Returning to A Magical Experience
Another way to infuse your mind with gratitude is to relive the most magical, positive, beautiful experiences of your life. Remember that place in time, and with your memory and imagination, transport yourself to that magical memory and feel what it felt like. See what was around you, hear the sounds and re-experience that feeling gratitude for that magic. Allow that magic to nourish you, and count your blessings.

Once you start living consciously in gratitude, you change your point of attraction.

Blessings of Love
End it with a Blessing
Finally, you can choose to send blessings and the energy of blessing to everything and everyone around you.

“May you be well, may you be loved. May you experience kindness, compassion, healing, positive frequency.”
When you push out negative thoughts and return to love, gratitude and the energy of blessing you positively change your point of attraction and bring yourself into alignment with manifesting the blessings and the outcomes you actually seek.

What you want to manifest and create in your life is a vibrational opposite to the negativity that has a way of emerging from the lower ego mind.

So push out the negativity, return to love and realign vibrationally and energetically with your highest possible timeline, with the energy that is in alignment with what you really want.

Give this a try and then comment below and let me know how it goes for you!

With love and bright blessings,

Seeing Your Birthday Numbers? Here’s What It Means!

Angel Numbers: Why You’re Seeing Your Birthday Numbers Everywhere!
Seeing Your Birthday Numbers? Here’s What It Means!Anytime you keep seeing your birthday numbers, or a certain sequence of numbers like 123, 333, 444, 777, 111 there is a deeper significance! Seeing these recurring number sequences is a sign that you have guides and angels with you. With awareness, the deeper spiritual meaning and message behind the numbers can guide you to connect with your higher spiritual truth.

Angels will often use number sequences to deliver a message because numbers are the mathematical language of the universe and carry a deep level of meaning. Higher spiritual beings are able to use numbers to get through to you, to bypass the filters of the ego mind in order to catch your attention.

So the next time you see a number sequence that feels significant for you, like 11:11 or the digits of your birthday, take it a step better than simply thinking: “oh, that’s a cool coincidence!” and rather tune inwards to recognize that it’s a sign that you have guides and angels with you, and that they’re using the number to convey a message.

What Does Seeing Your Birthday Numbers Indicate?

So what does seeing your birthday month and day, or the year you were born signify?

Your birthday is the timestamp of the moment you incarnated as an individual human being outside of your mother’s womb. Contained within your birthday numerology is an incredible amount of insight into who you are, who you have been and all that is possible for you. In this sense, your birthdate is the numerology code of who you are.

So when you keep seeing your birthday numbers, your guides and angels are directing your awareness towards you! At the most basic level, when you see your birthdate number sequence, the underlying message, significance and meaning from the angels is that you are valued.

You are Valued
You are valued! How does that make you feel? Your angels want to remind you that your unique divine light expression and individuality matters. The exact moment of when you were born is no accident. It is by divine design. It is a part of the unique code of who you are.

And when you look deeper into the numbers of your birthday, there is an incredible amount of information about your personality, your soul destiny, your dreams, even challenges, struggles, and obstacles you may encounter on your path.

Seeing Birthday Numbers and Numerology
There’s an incredible amount of information about you stored in the numbers of your birthday. When you see these numbers, your angels are drawing your attention to your unique strengths and qualities.

Are you comparing yourself to someone else? Have you been focusing on trying to be like someone else, or trying to model the path of another? Stop right there, and remember your uniqueness!

You are Beautifully Unique
Seeing birthday numbers on your screen, on an address, or on a clock, maybe your angels telling you:

“Hey! You are a unique spiritual being living a human experience. You are here for a unique purpose and a unique mission. Your purpose here is to shine divine light through you in a way that’s unlike anyone else. So don’t try to follow in the footsteps of another. Don’t try to dim or change your light to be like someone else. Rather reconnect through clearing your mind and opening your heart and tuning in to your intuition, to who you really are.”

When you see your birthday numbers, your angels are telling you to peel back the layers of conditioning, the masks you’ve worn to try to fit in, and connect to the core truth of you and why you’re really here.

Seeing your birthday numbers also reminds you that you have a unique purpose and mission and that it’s time to reconnect with that, to realign with the authenticity and truth of who you really are and let that be expressed through you.

Embodying Your Core Truth Is Your Purpose
Connect to your core truth and ask yourself:

“How can I be of service in the world in a way that I love and enjoy, that also benefits others?”

This is a question you could journal about to get clearer about your life purpose, and about why you’re really here. Be patient with the process and remember that ultimately your life purpose unfolds over a lifetime.

Often times, you will find an underlying tone or theme that is represented through your life and the many facets of your purpose by going within, meditating and tuning into what you love and enjoy, what you’re drawn to, and what lights you up and excites you.

Seeing the numbers of your birthday is a reminder to return to the core truth of you, to live your bliss, to live your divine individuality, and to remember that you are worthy of being here.

You Are Enough
You are worthy and you are enough. Gently let go of the negative self-talk and limiting beliefs that breed fear, insecurities, and doubt. Quiet that voice that says you are not enough, so you can call back your power and remember that who you are at your core is exactly who you are meant to be. Who you are is needed in the world.

So shine your light, reconnect with your truth, and take steps to anchor your intuition and inspiration into the world through inspired action because this is how you accomplish your purpose.

This is how you embody more of the truth of the divine being you authentically are, which is what you’re being called to do when you keep seeing the numbers of your birthday.

Uncover Your Core Truth With Numerology
You can gain incredible insights towards what your birthday means through a numerology reading and understanding your personal birthday numerology!

In your personal numerology reading, you’ll reconnect with:

The core traits and strengths and attributes of your individuality
Your deep soul desires and how you can achieve them
Key insights into your personality traits and character
The types of environments you flourish in
Your secret talents and hidden strengths
Challenges you must face and overcome in your life
Where your energy is drained
Insight into your ideal profession
Understanding about your life purpose and soul mission.
Gain clarity over how you are called to be of service in a way you love and enjoy
Realign with living your most vibrant life
Embody The Divine Truth of You
Seeing your birthday numbers is a sign for you to truly embody the divine truth of who you are. Unapologetically shine your light and live your truth. Because that is exactly what the world needs… For you to come alive and shine your light. Because when we all do that as individuals, when we all connect with the truth of our inner divine beingness and shine our individual light of love, the vibration of the world’s raises as a result.

So shine your light, live your truth, and know that living the truth of you is the most beautiful thing you can do. It is the highest purpose for your life, embodying the fullness of your light and letting it shine through, anchoring through your actions in the moment here and now.

Hero Down: Racine Police Officer John Hetland Murdered While Stopping Robbery

Racine Police Officer John Hetland was murdered in the line of duty on Monday night.

Racine, WI – Racine Police Officer John Hetland was murdered while intervening in an armed robbery on Monday night.

The incident occurred at approximately 9:40 p.m. at Teezer’s Tavern on Lathrop Avenue, The Journal Times reported.

The veteran officer was off-duty when he witnessed an armed attacker come into the bar with a bandanna tied around his face, WGN reported.

Officer Hetland sprang into action in an attempt to stop the suspect, but was fatally shot in the process.

Although Officer Hetland was off-duty when the fatal altercation occurred, the circumstances of his murder are considered to be a “line of duty death,” the RPD said, according to WGN.

The veteran officer “took immediate action to stop this felony in progress in order to protect life and property,” Racine Police Chief Arthel Howell said in a news release, according to the Journal Sentinel. “It is with profound sadness and grief that we announce the line of duty death.”

No arrests have been made, and police said they “are searching for the suspect,” WITI reported.

The Racine Police Department (RPD) instructed residents to remain indoors and to turn on the lights outside their homes.

“If you see anyone suspicious; do not confront them,” the department’s safety message read.

Police also asked citizens in the area to check their security camera systems to see if they captured footage of anyone fleeing the area or acting suspiciously.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Department, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, the Wisconsin State Patrol, and the State of Wisconsin Crime Laboratory are handling the ongoing investigation, The Journal Times reported.

Officer Hetland served in a wide variety of positions during his 24-year career with the RPD, Chief Howell told the paper.

The trusted, highly-respected officer spent time working as a field training officer, and also served on the Greater Racine Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Task Force.

Officer Hetland leaves behind two children, as well as his parents, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Racine Police Officer John Hetland, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Officer John Hetland, your life mattered

8-Year-Old Child Bride From Internal Bleeding After Her Wedding Night


‘I was getting food when my sister called, hysterically crying. ‘What’s wrong?’ Then the news came. ‘Mama said she found McKenzie in the bathroom. Get here now!’ I was frozen in shock.’

“My niece, McKenzie, was a fun-loving sweetheart. She loved giving hugs. She loved to sing and dance. She was always very smart and studious and could talk her head off about absolutely anything and everything, especially the girly stuff. She was a huge girly girl and loved all things pink, purple, and glitter.

Courtesy of Eddwina Harris

Courtesy of Eddwina Harris
We have so many beautiful moments together, but our biggest thing we loved to do was wear boots. It was our thing. We wore boots all year round. I’d always take her out to buy new ones, especially when they were on sale. She had boots for now, boots for later. She’d even wear them in the summertime. In a t-shirt and shorts and 100-degree weather, she’d slide right into her boots. There was no stopping her. I always called her my little boot girl. She was the sweetest girl and never deserved the hand she was dealt.

At school, McKenzie had been good friends with a particular boy for years. He was white and she was black. The other kids used this is a reason to pick on her. She loved her friend dearly and took the mean comments like a champ. She always fought back and defended herself and her friendship. But that didn’t stop the hate. In fact, the bullying only got worse. She was constantly berated and scolded. Other students started writing harmful notes to her with racial slurs. They kept calling her ugly and black, even stealing her clothes on occasion.

At first, she wasn’t afraid. But it got to the point where so many were joining in on it and it became a daily occurrence. Whenever she’d write notes back to defend herself, she would get in trouble and end up in the office.

The school was large, but they knew what was going on. In fact, they knew our family very well. Myself and my two sisters (including McKenzie’s mother) all graduated from the same school. On top of this, our mother had once worked for the human resources department for many years. Many of the people in the school system were some of her old colleagues.

As time passed, it became clearer and clearer that no one intended to stand up for McKenzie. When we turned her journal into the police, which detailed all of the bullying she endured, they turned it down quickly. ‘We couldn’t find anything,’ they said. They claimed they didn’t have enough in her file to take action. They even had the names of the children who were doing the bullying, all of whom already had plenty of write ups. But much to our disadvantage, action was not taken. Their parents had a lot more money and weight in the school district. We were left to fend for ourselves. These kids were never punished in a way they should have been.

On December 2, my own daughter turned 15 years old. My family and I got together on a conference call and sang her happy birthday. McKenzie sang. My sisters sang. My kids sang. At the end of the call, we began planning a trip to Birmingham that very weekend as we normally did twice a month. Birmingham was a great meeting point between where I live (Georgia) and where my sister, McKenzie’s mom, lives (Alabama).

When I got off the phone, I didn’t know that less than 24 hours later we would be receiving the most heartbreaking news imaginable.

It was Tuesday afternoon, the next day, when I found out. 5pm. One of my sisters called me crying. At the time, I had just gotten out of work and was walking into Burger King to get some food for my son. My little sister called me hysterically crying. Immediately, I asked, ‘What’s wrong?’ Then, the news came.

‘Mama called. She said she found McKenzie in the bathroom. She hung herself.’ I was frozen in shock. ‘The ambulance is here. Everyone is at the house. Please get here now!’ My mom came in on the call, screaming.

‘I’ll meet you there.’ I hung up, rushed home, threw clothes in a bag, and headed straight for Alabama. It was a two-hour drive away.

During the drive, I prayed and prayed for a miracle as my son slept behind me. Extended family members caught wind of the news and kept calling my number nonstop, but I couldn’t answer. I was completely devastated and focused on getting there as fast as I possibly could. I tried. I just wanted to see my niece. To make sure she would be okay. But I’d never get to see her alive again.

My mother called while I was still driving. ‘She didn’t make it.’ She was just 9 years old.

I knew I had to tell my son even though it would shatter him. He was the same age as McKenzie. They were only 6 months apart. We always called them the twins of the family because they were inseparable. When he woke up from his nap, I broke the news. Through the sound of cries and wet tears, I had to push through and continue driving.

Courtesy of Eddwina Harris

Courtesy of Eddwina Harris

Courtesy of Eddwina Harris
When I arrived, it was 7pm. I went straight to the hospital. The superintendent of the school was already there, claiming he had seen something in McKenzie’s file (even though it was previously stated by the police that ‘nothing’ was in this file). The hospital filled with many people in support of the family. Others came just to be nosy. We were all broken. As an older sister, I always wanted to protect my sister. And now I couldn’t. I felt like I had failed her. We all loved McKenzie. We always told her how beautiful she was and to never listen to what others told her.

It was too late now.

During the planning of the funeral, we went back to the school. One of the very boys McKenzie had named in her journal countless times was sitting right there in the office, completely unscathed. I was enraged.

After McKenzie’s passing, so many people questioned, ‘Why didn’t anyone know?’ In reality, everyone knew. No one hid it. We wouldn’t let it get swept under the rug. It got to the point where even other students’ parents knew about it. McKenzie’s friends’ mother who was a stay at home mom would always notice when McKenzie was feeling down. She’d say, ‘She wasn’t herself today. She must have had a bad day. You should see what’s going on.’ And our family did just that. We watched all of the signs. We wrapped her up in so much love and support.

We were constantly checking in. One question we’d always ask her was, ‘How was your day?’ To the parents who blamed us for not doing enough in the aftermath of her passing, understand that just because you asked this question and your child is still living doesn’t mean they’re not next on the list. It just means to have more time to help them and demand change at your school.

But if I could go back, I wish we asked her other questions too like, ‘What was the best part of your day?’ ‘If you had a party, who would you invite? Who wouldn’t you invite? Why not?’ Questions that dug deeper and got to the root of her feelings. Because in reality, even if you think your child is opening up, there is a lot they are still probably leaving out.

And to the parents who blamed my family and asked why we didn’t do enough and ask these difficult questions, I would say this: Why didn’t you ask your child if they were the bully? If they were the one taunting someone? As it turns out, when the news broke of McKenzie’s passing, half of the parents who said they couldn’t believe it and said their child had been friends with McKenzie, were the parents of the children who were bullying her endlessly.

Kindness is so important, but bullying doesn’t just end with kindness. It ends with asking the difficult questions and confronting the fact that YOUR child might be the problem. We need to look at our own children before we point fingers. Bullies have problems too and that is important, but the ones being bullied are the ones who are taking their own lives.

We also need to take a hard look at what constitutes bullying. Many parents claimed that their children were simply messing around and not bullying. But messing around never ends with some saying, ‘Please leave me alone.’ And McKenzie said just that. Over and over again.

In the wake of this tragedy, I have taken my grief and turned it into something positive. I’ve created the McKenzie Foundation to help other kids stand up for themselves and help ensure that schools take action against bullies. I also work to create solutions to bullying and teach adults how to demand action. This journey has brought me all across the country giving speeches.

Courtesy of Eddwina Harris
McKenzie was my very first niece. My boot girl. Now the only way I can ever be with her again is at a grave site.

McKenzie Adams. I will not let here name die. There are other McKenzie’s out there and I NEVER want them to go through what my niece went through. I want them all to know that bullying DOES end. These situations end. You just need to hang in there. Life is always worth living.”

[If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help is out there. You are not alone.]

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Eddwina Harris of Atlanta, Georgia. You can follow The McKenzie Foundation here and donate here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories like this:

‘Please don’t blame yourself mom. I LOVE YOU! I’m now looking down on you. LOOK UP. I SEE YOU.’ These were the last words my son wrote the day he took his own life.’

‘Suicide is always a viable option,’ I read the Snapchat my 16-year-old son sent his ex-girlfriend that morning. ‘How is your day going?,’ I texted him. I didn’t tell him she had sent it to me.’

Do you agree that we need to put an end to bullying? SHARE this story on Facebook with family and friends to let others know.

8-year-old boy celebrating after beating stage 4 brain cancer

The marvellous capabilities of modern science never cease to amaze me.

With each passing year treatment for all kinds of illnesses and issues improves, creating stories of recovery that simply wouldn’t have been possible even a decade ago.

Take the case of 8-year-old Cameron Scott, who is being hailed a true hero after beating stage 4 brain cancer with the help of the wonderful people at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

As per Wivb.com, little Cameron was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a high-risk tumor that had spread to his spine.

The 8-year-old underwent surgery to remove the tumors, before being sent to St. Jude’s for follow-up treatment.

“He’s my hero,” his father, Wendell Scott, told TODAY.

YouTube / TODAY
While at St. Jude’s, doctors discovered that Cameron had not one disease, but four. It was also at St. Jude’s however, that the hospital’s pioneered gene sequencing of Cameron’s cancer allowed them to begin a targeted and thus more effective treatment.

All told, Cameron endured six months of chemotherapy and radiation, but he stayed strong in the face of adversity.

“I feel amazing now,” Cameron said. “I feel like I’ve been through everything.”

One thing’s for sure, and that’s that Cameron is a fighter!

Share this article to show your support for Cameron’s bravery, and for all the people still fighting this terrible disease.