The Heart of Sharee was published in the Douglas Enterprise on Feburary 10, 2010.
It was the 6 month aniversary of her death, and the day of her Papa’s Birthday, my Daddy, and Lancelot’s Papa.
Sharee was my niece not by blood, but by heart. She loved, and fought her way through life. Teaching all of us,
that as long as you have breath your alive… Life the everyday things are a gift to enjoyed.
She also taught me being a Miracle, was not so fun for the person. She knew God gave her strength to fight through surgeries,
yet why had he not made her like everybody else….
She was such a dainty little doll, she brought joy to all our lives.
She was 5 years old when Lancelot was born. Her life helped prepare me. My brother and sister-in-law could help me through
the diagnosis no parent wants to here. Everyday she is missed, but everyday we celebrate knowing she is waiting for us in Heaven.
ECCLESIASTES 3: 1-2, NIV
THERE IS A TIME FOR EVERYTHING,
AND A SEASON FOR EVERY ACTIVITY UNDER HEAVEN:
A TIME TO BE BORN AND A TIME TO DIE,
Laken Sharee Holton was born August 7, 1987: Sharee died August 10, 2009. She came into this world bringing joy to her families’ hearts. She left this world in the loving arms of her mother, taking a piece of her family and friends heart with her. The pain of labor brings new life into a family. The painful death of a love one reveals the precious gift of life.
On the day of Sharee’s birth, the pediatrician found a heart murmur, probably nothing to worry about; lots of babies come into this world with heart murmurs that turn out to be nothing. He set Sharee an appointment with a cardiologist for November. So Sharee’s parents, Andy and Sherryl Holton, took her home and shared her with friends and family. Sharee’s life had begun!
Over the next 4 months, this tiny baby girl wrapped her daddy around her finger. And any one that saw them together knew that Sharee was a tiny version of her mother. Life was good. The doctor’s office called to reschedule Sharee’s visit to the cardiologist for December. Her parent’s gave this no second thought it was just a doctor’s appointment.
When Andy and Sherryl walked into the doctor’s office in Tifton, they were Sharee’s parents, and with the help of God protect her from all harm. As they left the Doctor’s office they knew they could not protect Sharee from harm only God could protect their baby girl. The cardiologist had told them to go home and pack their bags. Sharee needed to be at MCG as soon as possible: She only had a single ventricle (meaning instead of 4 chambers in her heart she had 3 chambers) and her Pulmonary arteries and blood vessels were underdeveloped, how she had lived this long the doctors could not explain. On December 8, 1987, Sharee was admitted to the pediatric cardiology floor of MCG for the first time. One week and one day later she had her first open heart surgery. Throughout the next 22 years all the doctors’ knowledge and experience would be put to the test, as they tried to give Sharee a longer life and to increase her quality of life. The heart strings of her parents were pulled tightly as they watched Sharee surviving in this world.
It was not easy for anyone, but a fighting spirit was emerging, a will to life like none other it was the essence of this tiny baby girl; it was Sharee.
Psalm 23:4, KJV
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff
They comfort me.
Sharee spent her life in the valley of the shadow of death, surving everyday of her short years literally fighting for every breath. (Sharee’s normal oxygen saturation was around 77, normal levels are between 96 and 100). She under went 5 more surgeries, numerous test, endless Doctor’s visits, and last 3 years of her life she was in and out of the hospital. This was Sharee’s normal life. She never knew any different, so she did what we all do she lived each day. And, Boy how she lived!
(This part of the story has been hardest for me. As a writer it is hard to capture someone’s life story in a way that will affect the reader the most, yet I am Sharee’s aunt, and I know nothing I write could possibly convey to readers all that Sharee brought into this world! So I am going to reflect on my memories and thoughts, then I will use some of Sharee’s on words to try show just a glimpse of her life!)
I was working in retail in Orlando when Sharee had her first open heart surgery. If memory serves me right, I went to see Sharee not long after she got to Augusta the first time, but it would be late December early January before I could get off work to go back. She was so tiny, but by the time I got there she took all the IV’s, Doctor’s, Nurses, and test as common place. Her life had completely changed yet it did not change Sharee.
When Sharee arrived home, I was the first one to baby sit her. Andy and Sherryl needed a break after being at the hospital with Sharee so long. They explained her oxygen equipment to me along with the other normal baby stuff. Well, Sharee sleep through all this and when they left she woke up. She was smiling and fine until she looked around and did not see her Mama and Daddy, then she let out a screaming cry that did not stop no matter what I tried. Yes, I kind of panicked: I mean she had just got out of pediatric ICU. She quit crying as soon as her parents returned home! I was so relieved that she and I made it! She took her bottle and went right to sleep. The little angel, yeah right! She was though, she just knew what she wanted, and I was not it at the moment!
Her first birthday was unreal there were so many people. Friends and family were all there to celebrate Sharee’s surving her first year! She was such a little doll. She was the first, yet the smallest of my nieces and nephew that were all born in August old 1987. Sharee, Wren, and MacKenzie always shared a special bond.
Her second surgery again I was living in Orlando, so I could not be there as much as I would have liked to have been. What I remember the most around this surgery was Sharee saying I want by Daddy! I cannot count the times thought the years those words came out of Sharee’s mouth, and her Daddy would take her in his loving arms, She never doubt her Daddy would love her through anything.( Sherryl was always right there making sure Sharee had all the care she needed, so her baby could have the best life possible)
Sharee loved babies, and Baby Bobby her first brother was her baby! She was not much bigger than him, yet she was determined to hold him and kiss him. If someone was holding him she was right by their side kissing him anywhere she could.
Somewhere along this time Andy and I were alone driving somewhere, I remember him poring out his heart to me about how hard it was to know that Sharee could die at any moment. Needless to say, I said one of those uninformed, stupid things that so often come back to haunt a person,” Andy, anybody could die at anytime”. You cannot think about it all the time, or just enjoy the time you have… (That is the truth, but after I was told my own son could die at any moment, I realized it is not the same thing most of us do not have ticking time bombs in our chest!)
All this time Sharee had her little oxygen tank that went with her everywhere, yet it did not hinder her. She went to her Daddy’s softball games, played with all her cousins and friends from church, she took dance. Sharee did as much as she could then some!
I got the pleasure of going with them to Disney World, so I could take care of Baby Bobby, while they enjoyed this special time with Sharee. We also went to the beach, and Silver Springs. We all had wonderful trip. Yet it was hot and the long lines take some of the joy out of the pleasure.
Not long after that Sharee’s cardiologist arrange for her to get a Wish from Make-A-Wish.
This time Sharee, Sherryl, Andy, and Bobby did not need me to tag-a-long. Everything was catered to make Sharee’s trip to Disney World, a trip of a life time. They were at the Disney Village for a week.
While I was pregnant with my baby, I watched Sharee and Bobby on the weekends. I would set at the Coffee table with them with what seemed like hours trying to get them to eat there greens beans. Sharee and I colored a lot and watched video‘s,, but we had to watch out though, because Baby Bobby (only2) could throw a softball as hard as a grown man, and he would decide to throw it at us when we were not looking. We all danced and played just hanging out, that is until Lancelot came along.
Lancelot was 6 months old when I found out he had a heart murmur, Sherryl came to see me right away. Andy and Sherrly were always understood and listened. When I was told there was nothing anyone one could do for Lancelot could die at any moment. All I could do was think of the those stupid words I said to Andy years before, yes they are true we can all die at any moment, but a parents job is to protect their child from hurtful things, to help them learn and grow to become product people, but all that is taken from your hands. You can do nothing your child is going to die, when is in God’s hands, there is no future to plan for there is only now! Because of Sharee, Andy and Sherryl truly understood what I was experiencing.
Sharee went to school, was Girl Scout, took dance, and even played softball. She could never ride a bike or run as far as other children. She may have been the smallest one in any group, but she was in the group.
Andy and Sherryl had another son, just before Sharee’s Ninth birthday, named John Tyler (J.T.). The years past and Sharee became a teenager. Her doctors put in her first pacemaker around this time. Her brothers had to adapt to their parents being in August with Sharee while they stayed at home with family and friends. That was their normal. Speaking of normal, Sharee was a normal teenager, needless to say she liked to go, go, and go! Oh, yeah she liked boys too!
By the time she reached High school, she was becoming the silly, crazy, Sharee we all loved. Yet her high school years would turn out to be trying on her. Coffee High School is big, and she had a very hard time getting around the campus. Finally Sharee left school and got her GED.
After leaving school Sharee had several jobs. They always took a lot out of her, but she believed in working. Andy and Sherrly got her to apply for disability, and she was accepted.
Her Papa (Bobby Holton) died on her 19th birthday. The day of the funeral at her Nana’s house, Sharee passed out in the road, and was rushed to the hospital. Over the following years Sharee was in and out of the hospitals: Coffee Regional, MCG, and then Emory. Her heart rate could not be controlled, and she was in so much pain! Finally they began talking about maybe a heart lung transplant. Sharee and all her family and friends were so thrilled. Sharee would feel better than she every had she could get married and maybe even have a baby she wanted one so much!. She was placed on a new Bata blocker and sent home to wait to hear from the transplant team. She would have to go back and go through around of test to see if she could have a transplant. Needless to say a few days later she was in the hospital again. She did get out long enough to go to a baby shower for her cousins between 5 of her cousins she was getting six more cousins. She couldn’t wait for the babies. Over the next few months the babies started coming, and Sharee keep going to the hospitals! Finally in late June/ early July, Sharee’s Doctor’s at Emory called Andy and Sherry in for a meeting. They explain that in the past 6 weeks Sharee’s heart size had increased greatly and one of her valves was leaking badly. They would not be able to do the transplant Sharee’s body could not handle it. Sharee was dying. The doctor’s sent her home on hospice.
Sharee had heard this before, so she took it with a grain of salt. When a nurse ask her what she wanted to do before she died, she said, finish schooling at Eaast Central Tech, get a tattoo, and fly in a helicopter.
Needless to say, before she got home her Aunt Sylvia and Her Aunt Lisa got to work on making Sharee’s wishes come true.
The night Sharee arrived home I was in the hall when she walked in to the house. She looked dead. I had never seen her look that bad. I ran to her. We grabbed hold of each other. I do not know who held on tighter or longer. Then she said where is my mama.
She went to find her mama, to the bathroom; she took a shower, and went out with her boyfriend Eddie Taylor. Now that is an example of sheer strength, and determination: That was Sharee!
Over the next weeks family and friends were at the Holton house as much as possible. The members of Sandhill Baptist church that had always been such a source of support for, Andy, Sherryl, Sharee, Bobbie, and John Tyler, did not slow down, they provided food, comfort at every turn whatever was needed they provided. Like brother Stan Clough said at Sharee’s funeral, their yard looked like the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Benny Overstreet gave Sharee, Meagan Kirkland, and Rebecca Munford a night on the town in his Hummer Limo. Those girls had a Blast! They went to ” Tuesday’s” (Sharee’s name for Ruby Tuesdays) and ate supper, and rode around till they arrived home to a welcoming committee of family and friends. Benny had given Sharee a 2 caret sapphire, surround by diamonds ring. She was thrilled!
Megan took pictures, and Audrey Barnes held Sharee’s hand as she got her Tattoo. She chose the open heart designed by Jane Seymour. ( For Christmas, Sherryl received book and a framed picture of Sharee signed by Jane Seymour.)
Meagan spent almost every night with Sharee those last few weeks. Eddie, Brooke Lewis was there every second they could be… She had so many friends coming in the door just to be with her. The church had a sing for Sharee one Sunday night. I t was a last minute thing, but there was standing room only. Sharee set in a recliner they at the front of the church, as church members sang songs for her, and told her how much they loved her. She went to Sandhill since the day she was born. She was their baby too. Sharee got up one time and told everybody not to worry she knew where she was going!
She wanted her brother’s to go with her on her helicopter ride. Her Aunt Lisa captured it all on film for them. On that day they were such a happy family, but it would not last for long. Sharee was getting weaker by the day. During this period she had went back to Coffee Regional twice only to be told the last time, “Sharee we cannot do any thing for you here, there is no need to come back”.
Now one afternoon Sharee is feeling pretty good, and put’s in to drive to the store to get a drink. Her mama said,” You can go, but John Tyler is going with you.” Well, according to J.T. when they got to the store down the road she decided to go to Sonic. Quiet awhile later J.T. runs into the yard, yelling they had run into the ditch. Sharee was not hurt. She had turned on the Waycross Hyw instead of the New Forest, she was disoriented, and of course she would not listen to her little brother. She was stubborn that way. It took a while but they finally got on the Sandhill church road, when she ran off the road. Everyone ran to get her . It did not matter what her body was going through, Sharee’s soul was determined to live as long as she had a breath!
Two Fridays before her 22nd Birthday, they called the family in because they did not think she would make it through the night. In the wee hours she had her daddy carry her to the bathroom.
She made it through the night, and slowly came back to us.
Her cousin Wren flew in to see her. Wren , John Tyler, Meagan and Sharee celebrated their birthdays together on the Friday, before her birthday! She said it made her sad on her birthday because of her Papa’s death on that date. So her Grandmother, Nana, Aunt Wendie and Liz made her a white dress to wear to her party, and just before she came out of her room, Eddie, Meagan, Brooke, Elizabeth, Bobby, kelly, Gracie, Andy and Sherryl went into the room with her. When they came out Sharee and Eddie were engaged. Sharee was in her dress, and she needed support to walk, but she was so happy. Everybody shared her happiness, but none of them could make her better!
The next Friday night was Sharee’s birthday. I had bought her a little birthday gift I was going to bring her, just thinking Lancelot and I would stay a little while, yet when I got there it slowly turned into another party. Charlie’s mother, a friend of Sharee’s that had passed away had brought Sharee a shitzu puppy from Charlie’s puppy she had in the hospital with her, Aunt Liz had made a gorgeous Birthday cake that looked like a wedding cake. Both of Sharee’s Grandmother’s were there, as well as Sharee’s Aunt Sylvia, Aunt Lisa, Sabrina, and James Carver and their son, Brent. Andy and Larry Lewis were grilling. Uncle Leonard was there too. And of course Meagan stopped by she was going to home that night, but she decided to stay too. Eddie and Brooke were there, Bobbie was still recovering from his shoulder surgery, so he and Elizabeth were there. Linda Lewis was never far from Sherryl’s side.
I set with Sharee and her puppy Wallie for quiet awhile that afternoon. Sharee could hardly wake up on her to see her puppy. She did wake up and come to the table to eat. She sat up so straight, yet as she ate her eyes were closed. She loved her cake I could not help but think, that I was glad it was so like a wedding cake, because I knew she would not make it till her July 2011 wedding date.
Sherrly called Mama Monday morning, and said Sharee was not doing well, that we needed to go over. I had had been sick since Friday so I told mama I would get ready and meet her there. She called me and said to bring Sharee some yogurt. I had stopped at one store, and was heading to another when Mama called, and Said Sharee was gone.
On August 10, 2009 Sharee went to see her Papa. We her family and friends grieve for her even though we know she is with her lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
The world is a scary place. People can be crazy, and life is not easy and no way is it fair.
So everyday that you have here with your friends and family…
Make the most of it. U never know what can happen or who you could lose.
So live life to the fullest, be thankful, party like there’s no tomorrow.
(Taken from Sharee’s myspace)
My name is Laken Sharee.I live in Douglas,GA. I love to have fun with my friends and family they mean the world to me and they are the greatest! My daddy and momma are CRAZY but I love them so much. My momma is the best, everyone says we are so much alkie its scary at times. I have two brothers, Bobby and John Tyler, there a little annoying but I’lL fight for em anyday, anytime… lol. Bobby graduated last May and I’m so proud of him. He started college at south georgia and it still working very hard to get to this goal,and John Tyler goes to Coffee Middle School. I have a god-daughter, Kaci Jean, shes 4 and I love her to death, I also have a god-sonn raymond (ramey) lol i love both of them very much. I’m a christian. I go to Sandhill Baptist Church, we have awana class on Sunday at 5 and I help teach the cubbies class(3 and 4 yr olds). It’s great there so cute and funny. I’m still in school at ECTC and I’m almost finished, but Im really a simple down home country girl. I like fishin, huntin, ridin 4 wheelers, and havin fun on the weekends and spending time with my family! Welp anything other then that just ask and I’ll tell u anything u want to know … but dont ask to much lol!