“It ain’t fair, you died too young, like a story that had just begun, but death tore the pages all away...” ~ Kenny Chesney

Peyton was the light of our life, the sun in our days, the beauty in our world.  Her energy lit up a room, her silliness kept us young, and her passion for life reminded us to live.  She was smart, compassionate, silly, curious, beautiful and full of love. Peyton loved to help in the garden, planting flowers and collecting bugs, worms, caterpillars, butterflies & ladybugs.  She spent hours hunting frogs, diligently checking the hose bin (almost always a sure bet) each day after preschool. She loved spending time at Priest Lake, Idaho, where she spent all summer swimming, kayaking and running on the beach like a horse with her brother, cousins & friends. She loved to dig in the dirt with the boys, roast marshmallows by the fire, drive fast in the boat and take long walks on the trails.  And each morning, she was up with the sun and down at the dock with her tackle box and fishing pole, before even the first skiers passed by.

At just three years old, she discovered her love for horses, asking for riding lessons for her birthday. She grew more horse crazy by the day and everyone knew that she was sometimes a horse!  She even talked some of them into leading her around as the trainer, while she galloped and whinnied perfectly behind! It was after her riding lesson that she was bent over picking her horses hoof, when she suddenly fell over.  We hoped that maybe she was hot and lightheaded from riding, but something inside told us it was more. She’d had symptoms of dizziness for the last few weeks and then her eyes started to cross. When the eye doctor said her vision was perfect, our hearts sank with despair. Then we took her for an MRI and heard the news that changed everything.

In November of 2010, Peyton was diagnosed with DIPG or Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a rare, inoperable brain tumor located in the brainstem. Affecting primarily children, it is the most rare and deadliest of all pediatric brain tumors.  So our little girl had surgery and they put in her port so she could receive daily radiation treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital & University of Washington Medical Center. As she lost her ability to walk and play like she used to, her little body grew large and heavy with the steroids.  Her spirit was alive, but her childhood smothered by this awful disease. They call it palliative care, a word we weren’t even familiar with. It meant that she wasn’t getting treatment to live, but simply a short extension of time. As we watched our baby girl bravely endure the next several months of radiation, we quietly grieved inside knowing she wouldn’t survive. After radiation, she did grow stronger and briefly returned to life as a 6-year old. She enjoyed one last incredible summer at the lake, but by summers end, her symptoms returned and the tumor rapidly progressed. Just after turning 7, our beautiful girl passed away on October 23, 2011.