Hell On Earth



“2-3 months without treatment, 6-18 months with treatment” That’s what we were told.   For the first two months Gabby was put through hell.   A month in a hospital bed, followed by a month driving down to chop daily to be sedated for radiation treatment, weekly needles, daily medicines, at times we had to hold Gabby down and pour the medicine into her throat.  The third month consisted of daily therapy, and another operation, countless CT scans, emergency room visits and still Gabby couldn’t cry.

 When this started we believed she could beat the odds, she would hit the 17th month and a new treatment would come out giving her more time.  Another few years and another new treatment.  We never stopped believing that would be how this all turned out.  A miracle girl cured.


 Our other two daughters went through the hell of having invisible parents for three months, being shuffled from family member to family member, taking out their anger on one another.   At the end of August we said we needed to get away.  We traveled to the great Wolf lodge.  Gabby was miserable the whole time.  When we took vacation in the beginning of Gabbys life, and she was an infant.  As she sat in her stroller and watched her sisters play and laugh it filled her with smiles and giggles.  She hadn’t yet learned that she could do the same thing.   Fast forward almost six years and gabby is sitting in a stroller again, however this time as she watches her sister’s laugh and play she knows she used to be able to do the same.  She knew what she was missing while as an infant she didn’t.  She was trapped inside a body that was shutting down. She was helpless to stop it.

 The Beach

 We came home for one day before leaving for the beach.  Again at the beach gabby was miserable.  When we took her to the beach she would just close her eyes and pretend she was asleep rather than watch her sisters playing in the sand.  The only thing she wanted to do at this time was eat and sleep.   Unfortunately it was getting harder for her to eat.  At the beach we noticed Gabby was a lot more lethargic, something was wrong, we called the hospital and they said bring her in.  So her only real vacation was cut short, Carolynn and I drove Gabby to CHOP.  She had a CTscan and we were told she needed a shunt to drain the fluid in her brain.  I asked the doctor was the swelling due to tumor growth or tumor breakdown.  She looked at us and said it was breakdown.  We were overjoyed that was a good thing, even though it was just a guess on her part.  She couldn’t tell for sure but all signs of improvement led her to that deduction.

 I had to drive down to the beach and pick up my other two daughters because I didn’t want to have to end their vacation as well.  However Hurricane Irene did that anyway.  Gabby stayed in the Hospital till Saturday and came home.


 Gabby kept declining, she was now having trouble eating her favorite ice cream sandwiches and even DIBS after the first few days, she also lost the ability and power to drink through a straw, and she would grab the cup and place it to her mouth and pour milk in.   The milk would pour right back out.  She was so thirsty but couldn’t swallow milk or at least much milk.  Imagine being in a desert dying of thirst, you find a beautiful lake full of water however every time you tried to take a sip it would pour back out of your mouth leaving you still thirsty.  HELL on earth.

 On Saturday Morning our middle child came down with a sore throat and was getting sick, we made an appt to take her in to get checked for Strep.  That morning Gabby couldn’t even swallow ice cream. Carolynn called oncology and they said bring her in.  I took Kate to one doctor, Carolynn headed to CHOP.  It turned out Kate had strep.  When Carolynn took Gabby to Chop we both thought it was a problem with her shunt, they would fix it and she would be right home.   As Carolynn sat in the ER she told me to stay home with Kate and she would let me know more later.     I received a call from Carolynn the doctors told her they were very concerned about Gabby and she should call me and have me get there fast.   I arrived there at about10:00 pm.   Gabby woke up looked at me; I hugged her, talked to her for a little bit and said I loved her.  She then drifted off to sleep.


 Carolynn screamed JOHN; I fell off the couch to the sight of about ten doctors/nurses in the room with Gabby in a seizure.   Her heart rate was over 200bpm.  They looked at us and said do we want them to just let her pass away in our arms right there or should they put a breathing tube in.  Of course we chose the tube. That morning we were told the tumor had grown, swelling was worse.  They would treat her with more steroids and other medicine to see if swelling would go down and she would wake up.  She was in a coma.  

 Sunday through Friday.

 The next several days we watched and waited, eventually gabby opened her eyes and looked at us.   She couldn’t talk or move and wasn’t able to show pain in any of her extremities when they did tests. Eventually she did show she felt pain in one foot and one hand.  This stay in the hospital was filled with numerous discussions and choices no parent should ever have.

 She had tubes and needles going into her everywhere, it was horrible to see this delicate flower so bruised, she still had a three inch incision on the back of her head and stomach that hadn’t healed and a week later we were back in the hospital with her.  What happened to our plan?   What happened to 6-18 months?  The doctors came to us and said we had three options, perform basically two more unnecessary surgeries in our eyes to take care of the shunt infection ( it was a minor infection and wasn’t what was keeping her asleep) treating that would only help if she started to move and became alert.  The doctors told us it wasn’t what was doing this.  The second choice was just to keep her hooked up to everything,  she had been given all these medicines for close to a week and nothing changed and they didn’t feel it would.  The third was take out the tube and see if Gabby could make it.  She was showing she could take breaths on her own so we decided to take out the tube.  We talked about it two days before we officially decided.  It wasn’t the breathing that they thought she would die from it was if she would be able to handle her secretions and basically not asphyxiate on them.

 Taking out the tube Thursday 

 The room was filled with doctors, they removed all her IV’s with the exception of her port, and we said we love you and goodbye.  They removed the tube and placed her in our arms and left the room.  We sat there quietly crying holding her tight listening to her breath. An hour later they came back and Gabby was still with us, still breathing, still fighting!

 Each night before the tube and the night after the tube was taken out we said goodbye to our daughter.  Because each night it looked as she wouldn’t be with us when we woke, we were afraid to go to sleep, afraid to miss that last breath, afraid to miss feeling her leaving us. True Hell on Earth.

 Going home

 The doctors told us she was dying we decided we wanted to take her home and let her be surrounded by us, her sisters and her puppy.  There was nothing else they could do for her that we couldn’t do at home, with equipment the hospital set up in the house.  We talked to her sisters the day before and explained that Gabby would most likely be going to heaven and gave them the choice if they wanted her at home when she went.  I was surprised but they both said yes they wanted her home right away. We also let them know they should never give up hope and keep believing that a miracle was possible. We were supposed to leave Friday at1:00pm.  Carolynn woke me Friday at8:00amand said the doctors had told her Gabby was actively dying and if we wanted to go home we needed to leave now.  They couldn’t guarantee she would survive transport.  Only one of us could go in the ambulance the other would have to drive home alone.   Carolynn went in the ambulance, I gave Gabby a kiss, said I’m sorry and goodbye. I packed up and tried to get home.  A portion of 76 was shut down so I had to take a different way home at time exceeding 100 mph, because I knew the way things are for us, I would probally not  get to say goodbye and hug her again.

 Hell Breath by Breath

 Gabby’s new bedroom was our downstairs family room, equipment was set up their Carolynn and I slept next to her, neither of us wanting to close our eyes because we were afraid again each breath would be her last.  We were by told by the nurse we should call a funeral home and at least be ready so we wouldn’t have to do it afterwards.  I can’t describe the fear, the pain we felt watching our baby take breaths, deep ones, shallow ones, stop breathing for a second here and there.  Wondering was that it?  Did I miss it?  Talking about should we have a private or public viewing, where we should have the memorial or celebration of life.  The one thing that remained constant was each night we said goodbye to our baby, and each morning we woke up after we passed out from exhaustion and she was still with us.  A friend asked me during this time was there anything we needed.  I replied: More time.   The more and more I thought about it I’m not sure I wanted that anymore, of course I didn’t want to lose by baby, however watching her, listening to her little heart beat so fast, working so hard I just wanted her to stop hurting. But every night we also clung on, believed, hoped for a miracle to happen the next day, that night, movement in the hands, eyes opening wide, anything, we never gave up that hope of a miracle. We didn’t take Gabby home to die, we took her home to be surrounded by the people who love her, away from the doctors, the ouchies, the hospital, we took her home and kept waiting for the miracle that she deserved.


 The day started like the last few, Carolynn sleeping on the bed next to Gabby me on the couch we pushed next to the bed.  Her breathing was the same as it had been the night before, I had a dream the night before that she had woken up and was okay.  Unfortunately it was just a dream.  The girls went out with friends in the morning while Carolynn and I stayed to sit with Gabby.  We talked and sang to her, Katie came home, got a shower then came downstairs with us.  We put on the Disney channel. I laid on the floor as Katie lay in bed next to Gabby holding her hand, Carolynn on the other side of her.  Carolynn said her breathing was slower now and it was getting slower all day.  She went up stairs I looked at Gabby’s knees they had started to turn blue from lack of oxygen I would guess to her extremities.  All her energy was being moved to her heart to help it beat.   Carolynn came back to the room, I leaned over and whispered in Gabbys ear, I love you baby, your strong and beautiful and I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you from this.  I said I love you again, told her she won’t hurt anymore, and to wait for us and one day we would come to her.  Then I didn’t say goodbye I simply said see you later.  Right after that she took her last breath at8:18p.m.

 She went quietly, no noise, her heart just couldn’t handle all the work anymore.   Carolynn held her, Katie held her, I held her, we cried.  Our baby was gone. I can’t describe the silence as Carolynn and I looked at each other and back to Gabby.

 I had to call the nurse to come and make the official time of death and unhook her from all the tubes, we told her not to come till 10:00.  Maddie, Katie, Carolynn and I took turns singing her favorite songs to her, hugging her, talking about how she will always be with us. In our hearts.  We should be honored we had her for five years.  Gabby was right when she told me months ago that when she was six she wouldn’t be sick anymore.  Her birthday is October 9th she won’t be sick that day.

 After the nurse officially pronounced her, you have to wait for the funeral parlor, it was important to us that she was not placed in a bag, and she wasn’t.  We told them to give us 20 more minutes.  The five of us sat downstairs each one of us holding her and singing songs to her.  When the last song was sung, I picked her up, walked her out to the van outside, and placed her on the gurney.  Kissed her as they covered her head with a sheet, kissed her again and said how sorry I was that I couldn’t protect her, how sorry I was for not being strong enough for her, and how she would never have to hurt again.  They took her; it was raining and thundering, Gabby going out with a bang.


 Went to the funeral parlor to talk about the viewing, we are having a public viewing on Thursday September 15th; we figured we owed it to Gabby to honor such a special girl.  We are also planning a big celebration of life on her birthday, as a friend of mine said, it will be Epic.

 Just sitting in a funeral home knowing your five year old is somewhere in the building on a table alone is enough to haunt you for the rest of your life, the fact that right after you need to go to a florist to get flowers makes it that much worse.

 When we got home the girls wanted to do something fun, we took them to ride go-karts and play lazer tag and arcade games.  The whole time we had to have a smile on our faces for them, when they would run off Carolynn and I would just sit and stare blankly at the floor.  This was all wrong, there are only two, and Gabby would have loved this. It truly sunk in when we were leaving and the girls were walking in front of us.  Two of them, with an empty spot on the right ofMadisonwhere Gabby should be.  Hell on earth.  The day we took Gabby to Chop the first time we were supposed to go to Chucky cheese, she loved the place, I wish we would have taken her, we told her we would go later, in the hospital we told her we would go when we got out, she never got well enough and she never got back to chucky cheese.

 Neither Carolynn nor I want to drive the minivan anymore, it was bought right before Gabby was born for her, our family of 4 was becoming five and we needed a bigger car.  We had her brothers come and take it away. It was too hard to drive and look and see an empty row.

 God and the wrath of Facebook

 Earlier tonight I posted something on face book, and I’ll share it with all of you again.  I simply stated that everyone who thinks she was in a better place was wrong.  Her idea of heaven was playing with her sisters and getting hugs from her parents.  God was the person who put her through three months of hell then murdered her.  God’s plan was to take her somewhere better and leave her family in hell?   I think I said something about I’ll show you a video tape of our family Christmas from last year and the one coming up, lets see the difference.  Then I said God is a good guy sarcastically.

 The post upset a lot of people, some accusing me of asking for prayers the last three months and now spitting in gabby supporters faces, to others basically just calling me bad names.  I deleted it, it is Gabby’s page and I didn’t want that Hate on there.

 Looking back at what I said I only regret one thing, actually one sentence.  When I told everyone they were wrong.  It was a statement.  I shouldn’t have done that. I am open to all discussion and respect everyone’s view, that statement was close minded.  I shouldn’t impose my beliefs on others and accuse them of being wrong.  Everyone has the right to believe what they want. I mean Hell I’ve been shouting believe for three months. So I do apologize to those that I said were wrong. You are entitled to your opinion.  So take that sentence out. However I still believe and stand behind everything else I said, if you choose to judge me, go for it.  I promise I won’t judge you and be as close minded as some people when it comes to faith and religion.  I welcome all your thoughts and prayers, my whole family does.

 Gabby touched so many people and my family and I appreciate all the support of the community, volunteers, face book followers and anyone else I am missing, I would never want to do anything to make any of you feel we didn’t appreciate it. We love you all. Just remember be open minded, when it comes to religion ,take a breath and compare it to soda.  Some people drink Pepsi, I just choose Coca-Cola…  My miracle was having five years with her, she was the true angel. But she isn’t in a better place in my opinion, a better place is sitting on the couch with her sisters and me playing Mario kart on the wii.


 Now what?  I have no idea, so many things we regret, so many horrible things we remember.  Gabby last said I love you to me June 2nd at7:00pm.  I have it recorded on my phone, I’ve played it a hundred times since this started, I’m addicted to hearing my baby say it for the last time, how many people can honestly say they know the exact time someone said I love you. It’s a date burned into my mind.

 Am I angry, of course I feel what happened to Gabby is no different that someone waking up walking outside and randomly killing someone, murder is murder. Again my belief, not trying to impose it on anyone else. She was cheated, murderers and rapists walk the streets yet she was taken, not just one person died that day we all did.  Gabby didn’t want to be part of a plan, she wanted to play guitar hero with her sisters and fight me for the cake batter bowl. 

 She loved monster high dolls, last year she was Frankie Stein and I was Frankenstein, this year she was going to be Claudine wolf and I was going to be the wolf man Last year our older girls ran ahead and even in the cold and the rain, Gabby and I went to ever house in our neighborhood, her sisters quit ½ hour before us, that’s the type of determination she had.  I can’t even bear to think about Halloween now.

 We where going to Disney to stay at the Polynesian and go to Disney and Universal through the make a wish foundation.  That can’t happen now, it was her wish.  My girls asked me are we still going.  I can’t bear to tell them probably not.  We have a stacks and stacks of bills to pay, Life is still going on, and mortgages have to be paid. Actually we can’t even open the bills yet, we keep saying tomorrow.  How do I explain we now can’t go to Disney and stay on the beach where they will do Luaus?  We told make a wish we wanted that hotel, because if Gabby was to sick to go to the park she could still see the fireworks over the water. 

Going back to work is terrifying to me, but it has to happen, as I write this Carolynn just came running in crying clutching Gabby’s blanket, screaming I want my Baby back.  What do you say to that?  What would the religious tell a grieving mother holding the blanket that gabby wouldn’t let go of for five years. As she screams I want my baby back?

Would they say: it was gods will and we have no right to her? Would they blame it on Satan, would they tell us She was placed here to be an example of how one child can bring so many together?  None of those answers will bring peace to a grieving family.

 I want to run away, get a job where you don’t have to worry about it when you go home, there are no sales quotas or numbers to hit, and I want to live life, enjoy life, and enjoy my family. I spent more time at work than I did with Gabby during her five years of life, I will take that thought to my grave.  So maybe running away to the beach, getting a jeep, starting over but never forgetting is the answer.  I’m not sure, all I know my house scares me; I don’t like being in it, all the happy memories only lead to sadness.

 The website and the face book page will be kept up.  I will blog  and maybe the next one will be about the happy moments, Right now I just can’t think of any of them and am afraid to watch old video tapes of her.

 On that note I won’t say goodbye, I’ll just say see you all later.

 Hug your kids

Love your kids

Believe in your kids

Never take them for granted, they could be gone tomorrow or five minutes from now, never forget that. Even years after this, let gabby have taught you that, work , money, status. None of that is important family is. Go hug someone right now.

Believe in them

Believe in yourself

Believe you can be a better person, parent, and friend


 Believe in Gabby

242 thoughts on “Hell On Earth

  1. I don’t know what to say. One of the most powerful things I’ve ever read. Wishing your family health and happiness all the rest of your days.

    • HI, My name is Bonnie , a relative of mine must know you and posted this on her page….and i figured i would click and check it out ….. Wow……

      I’ve recently been going through some difficult times with life…. and I actually posted on my facebook about how i wish there were a book for how to deal with lifes realities for dummies …..cuz i’m just not getting it ……

      where am i going with this? …. well i suppose i just want you to know that I feel like I don’t know why things happen the ways they do either …. hell on earth …sounds about right to me sometimes. All i can say is I hope you know some people that will listen to you and commiserate, cuz noone needs someone who has all the answers….cuz no person on this earth has em ….. We just think we do …and then something eearth shattering will happen and we’re dropped on our heads …..going …. wait I thought it was one way …but its something totally different. ( excuse me for not having good writing skills …. i want to tell you that in advance …. ) anyway … i am glad you would be so honest and open about all of this ….. and i’m going to stop writing now….i could go on …but i am the rambling type …and i can’t write very well …..

      all i can say is …. you can do this thing called life…..keep truckin through it …. swimming through it …drudging through it …whatever you gotta do….

    • John, your writing is amazing. One day you should write a book and publish it. After the loss of my son I wrote some thoughts down, some poems I found and got my familie and friend to right down something they would like to say to my son. I put it all together, a booklet and gave one to everyone. It helped me through a rough time. That was 12 years ago, I still pull it out and read it every once in awhile. My heart goes out to you and your family.

    • John,
      I got this link from a friend on facebook.
      I am so sorry for your loss.
      I cant imagine th er pain.
      I am awed by your families strength and love.

    • My heart bleeds for you and your family. I know from personal experience no parent should ever have to bury a child. People try to support you and make ridiculous comments to try to make things better for you and your family. You are angry at God, angry for believing in a miracle that never came. I never believed I would bury my son, but I did 16 years ago this coming January. I can tell you in days to come you will find peace, slowly. One day you may look to the sky and see a rainbaow and feel Gabby hugging you. You may look down at a sidewalk and see a flower and know it is her smile. I will always cry at an empty swing or birthday candles that will not be blown out but your child never really leaves you! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    • I wish I could say something to help you and make it better…I am so so sorry for your family. I will pray for you always. Thank you for the reminder of what is important in life. Bless your little angel Gabby. XO

    • I just read your page and through tears I’m sending you my prayers.

      I also lost my little girl in November 2000. She passed at CHOP after a 17-month battle with cancer. I’ve been through all the grief stages.

      If you ever want to vent or just “chat” feel free to email me. I can not take your pain away, but I think it is good to know that you are NOT alone, though it most definitely feels as if you are. Reading this blog, I could relate to so much. Even though almost 11 years have passed for me, not a moment goes by I am not thinking of my angel. I remember the feeling of pain, anger, guilt…having the bills piled high….I remember it all!

      I will keep you all and your precious little angel in my prayers. Feel free to email me if you ever just want to vent or ask questions. I honestly mean that!

      Jenn Phelan

  2. Hi I cant even begin to tell you how sad I am for your family. You will hear this a 1,000 times I’m sure, and It will never make things easier. I am a mother of 3 boys whom I love so dearly. My husband and I both work alot of hours just to try and get by. Which means alot of time away from them. You say your not sure what is next, and I wish I could give you some insight. But I cant, you have amazed me with your indepth insight on what has happened to your beautiful little angel. I’m sorry you and your prescious family have to go through this, it is very unfair ..I hope your memories of the good times will ease your pain. You seem like a remarkable father and husband, and I’m sure your wife is also. Bless you all, I will be thinking of you!

  3. Hi, I am so sorry for your loss. I have two children and can’t imagine going through what your family has gone through. No one has the right to judge you or your pain. I wish you and your family the best.

  4. I just want to say you need not apologize for your feelings and emotions. I truly believe this is the worst thing possible to have to live through. You’ve laughed, cried and enjoyed your children’s lives. Now the youngest is very ill and now…….
    This is major anguish and hell on earth.
    Your Gabby’s story and your families lives have touched so many in the cyber world. So many were praying night and day as I’m sure all of you have. I don’t even understand why these things happen. It sucks! God is with all of you even if you can’t feel his presence or see his works.
    I have 3 children myself. I can’t even bear the thought of loosing one of them, especially when no parent should have to outlive their children. And no one should cast judgement upon others and especially you or anyone else in your family. Shame on them. Your emotions are raw and very real. We that have compassion will continue to pray for you and your family. We’ll pray for your loss, your pain, your misery and anything else we can think of that you all require of us.
    You are also entitled to be angry with God. God can handle these feelings. At least your not afraid to speak your mind. You are entitled to.
    I do pray for all of you and for Gabby still. I pray also for all of you to be reunited someday in time.
    I have no other words for you at this time. May God Keep All of You Close!
    Dave Inlow

  5. I dont kno wyou but one o fmy friends does, Andrea H. she was Gabbys p-k teacher. I am also a social worker who works with families and kids an dmy kids have histories of beign at CHOP for shunts. I cannt imagine your pain and your families………YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT to feel thsi way, It is unfair! PLEASE grieve allow all of you to grieve. Your dream of Gabby that night was her telling you how much she loves al of you and she wil be fine. Your family has a long way to go and please take that trip to Disney stay at the POLY, it is a wonderful hotel and when you all watch the fireworks Gabby will be smiling:) SO GO! If your girls need someone to talk to feel free to email me , or ask ANdrea for my info…..Gabby has changed so many people I for one am changed ! I will never forget her and will think of her when I am havign a bad mommy day. She will make me hug my kid instead of yelling, she will make me kiss my kids instead of walking away , she will make me give more time to my kids instead of saying wait a minute, she will make me smile more , laugh more, play more and love harder:) My love to all o fyou in your families tiem of mourning. ALlow yourselfs to cry, scream, “laugh”( at good times) , run “wild”, watch hoem movies, talk, remeber , etc and then just hug each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Dear John,
    I appreciate everything you just said.You and your family deserve and have every right to everything you are feeling and going through of course.I was only aware of your page for the past week but Gabby has touched me tremendously.There is nothing of any meaning for me to say except you,your wife and girls are going through and have gone through the biggest loss imaginable and Iam so ,so sorry.And this was so unfair and awful to happen to your most precious little girl.I will be thinking of you all alot. Much love and sorrow ,Kim

  7. John and Carolyn, please continue talking and writing. Keep letting it out. You never know maybe your next career will be something on the beach. =) Just remember to take it day by day. Just breathe. Hold each other close. Never let go of each other. No one can imagine what you feel… even in the same circumstances… everyone will go through it differently.
    Lots of Love

    • Beautiful, Michelle. I wholeheartedly agree. Your story is familiar to me. It is hell on earth…for now. Lean on those near you who offer to help. Ask for anything you need to get you and your family through this. Praying for your little girl and all your family members.

  8. There just are no words to comfort your breaking heart. Tears in my eyes as I read every word. Later in time I will write back–you and your family are overloaded with so many strangers contacting you. I just wanted you to know your little girl touched my soul *hugs*

  9. John, I cannot even begin to imagine what you are going through. I am sitting here with tears running down my face after reading your blog. I commend you for being so honest. I have been praying for Gabby and your family and will continue. I love the BELIEVE I have it tattooed on my ankle with a gold ribbon and blue stars for the make a wish. My son battled this monster when he was one year old. My outcome was differernt and he is a healthy eight year old now. I am hoping that we can turn the world gold in sept the same way it is turned pink in oct. My deepest sympathies to you and your beautiful wife and daughters. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel. And God Bless You for sharing your story and your raw emotions. BELIEVE!!!

  10. I dont have the words to make you feel better,but I am very touched by you daughter,Gabby’s story I am terribly sorry for you and your families loss. What a beautiful little girl,I can feel the love just pour out of your writings.I agree with alot of what you said when you spoke of the facebook post. I dont know you personally,nor do I know what it is like to have a child with cancer,but I do know how it feels to have a child fighting to be here on this earth..my heart goes out to you and your family. May Gabby’s story touch many and teach them that life is precious and never take a second of it for granted. I hug and kiss my boys so much my oldest things Im going to break them,but thats okay I will never stop they are my world and I never know when it may be my last.

    Many Thoughts and Hugs


  11. Oh John. I don’t even know your family in real life, and I have been crying and mourning your loss of your beautiful princess Gabby. Reading this breaks my heart even more. Please don’t beat yourself up any more than you already have. You and Carolynn did nothing wrong. All through this horrible nightmare you made the choices any loving parent would have to agonizingly weigh and make. I look at my little daughter, and I cannot even fathom the hell of having her slip away while you are helpless to stop it. Even now you have to be the strong ones, because you have two precious daughters looking to you as their rock to guide them through this. You have been thru hell, and it isn’t fair or right. But that doesn’t change a thing. No regrets, you and Carolynn did the best you could with the information you had at the time out of love for Gabby. That is ALL that matters. I wish I could send hugs for your entire family, I will wrap all of you, including sweet Gabby, in white light and ask for some bit of peace for your wounded hearts.

  12. Your words are so raw & so real. I cannot imagine what you are going through. I was sole caretaker of the most wonderful mother in the world (to me), for 18 months & then one day when I was supposed to be with her & wasn’t, she was just gone. 4 months later, I’m still not functioning & I cannot even begin to contemplate what it must be like for you. I wish you didn’t feel the need to apologize for what you are saying, how you are feeling. What happened to you, your family & your precious Gabby is something that should never happen, but it does. And most of us ask why, you just happen to put it in the most straight forward way you know how. That offends some people, not me. It tears my heart out to read your posts yet I cannot stop as I am witnessing the most pure love anyone can see. I wish there was something I could do to answer your questions or console you on your feelings of not being able to protect your sweet girl. I know there will be many days when you feel the need to be strong, for your daughters, for your wife, for the visitors. All I can say is that tears, anger, overwhelming grief are just as real as your feeling of love & believing that Gabby would get her miracle. Don’t feel you need to be the strong one all the time. Let it out, no matter what way that is. As for those who wish to turn your anger & grief into that you don’t appreciate all the love & prayers that have been sent your way, pardon my expression, but to hell with them. There was one post in particular that got me so mad I actually messaged the person, a complete stranger, to tell them to shut up! Please know that those of us that are on your FB page & blog will do all within our power to support you & your family through this time will be here no matter what you say. We are all sobbing over just your words so can completely understand how much more devastating Gabbys loss is for you.

    • i am a mother of three. i just cried reading gabbys final days. i cry because she was such a brave and undertanding little lady. so smart for five yrs old. you guys are so strong and i didnt know gabby but im sure she is smling down and is in no pain. i agree with your post you have every right as a father to write that. its your pain nooneelses. until they experince it they shuld not judge. i wuld d the same if it was one of my three. just remeber she was loved by you your wife sisters all family and friends. i never met her but i am so touched by her and humbled. i will not take my love ones for grnted. she showed me that. thank you for being strong enough to share your story when you didnt have too.

  13. John, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Nobody can tell you how to feel or grieve. You, your wife and each child will grieve differently. Be there for each other. You and your family will be in my thoughts. Your family is amazingly strong. You will see that some day.

  14. I am so sorry for your loss HUGS. I worked for years at a hospital with all kinds of patients including children and cancer, Many became my family.Some left us for a short time (near death and code experiences). They all told me how beautiful “Heaven” was and how they heard everything being said and done for them the whole time, They were not suffering during their comas,etc. I know Gabby felt every bit of love , I know she heard every song & I know she did not blame you or feel you were lying to her <3!You were and always will be her parents. We always want to fix everything and make it all better…I don't know why sometimes we can't, I don't know why these things have to happen at all. But you are right your five years with this precious child was a miracle.Please consider taking that trip with Gabby's sisters…let her run and play and live through you in your hearts. It's okay to be whatever you need to be there is no right and wrong way to grieve. Just please don't let it turn to hate ….don't lose what she gave you. I am sorry for the haters that attacked you, It's not about US it's about you and your family.Let me know if I can help. My daughter's up there too (Heaven) In My thoughts and Prayers Melody

  15. I can’t blame you for anything that you have to say and I can’t believe anyone else would. You just lost one of the most precious gifts ever given to you. I believe that in the next days and months and years your outlook and feelings on everything you went through will change many times. I do believe in heaven and that it is the most wonderful place filled with nothing but love. I hope that in heaven we are able to relive our favorite days and I hope that your sweet angel is reliving one of her favorite days that she had with her family right now. No one knows the right thing to say in this situation because there is no right thing to say. I wish for you all to have the strength to go on. To enjoy every moment you have with your daughters. I wish more than anything in this world that children were never taken from their parents. It’s the cruellest thing that can ever be done to a human being. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  16. May i offer you some great advice. record her last goodbye onto a microcassette tape and you can have it forever. If you dropp your phone or it gets wet your precious little girls voice could be lost forever. I will hug my kids a little longer and always remember your daughter. Ive never met Gabby but she is quite an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for sharing her story with us. RiP Gabby I have a little Angel also her name is April if you see her please let her know her daddy misses her :(…..

  17. I’m so, so deeply sorry for the unimaginable loss of your precious brave Gabby.
    I’m crying so hard I’ve had to stop several times to re-read your post. My heart as a parent aches and screams for the sudden end to Gabby’s life journey.

    Please, please keep writing. Don’t let anyone discourage you. You are the voice for your daughter and for every parent who is or may have to walk through hell on earth like you are.
    Thank you for so openly sharing her journey as well as yours…
    Gabby (as well as your whole family) will always be in our hearts as much as the day we started reading the posts.

    The Bowmans
    Kenai. Alaska

  18. That is the absolute most beautiful saddest thing I have ever read! MY HEART BREAKS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!!!!!!! There isn’t a parent on this earth that should bury their children! I will say for being only 5 years old, you gave Gabby a FABULOUS life! I prayed and prayed for her but I do guess God has bigger plans for her in Heaven. If it helps at all. My Brother lost a child at birth, and it is 17 years later. Yes, we all prayed that the baby was going to be ok, and that the doctors were wrong, but he wasnt ok, and the doctors were right. For MANY MANY MANY years alot of us were mad at God. To be quite honest I still believe my Brother is mad at him. He does have a healthy wonderful son who is 15, but there is absolutely still something missing in my Brother! So for now if you are mad at God, I believe that is just fine! And when you are ready to not be mad anymore, that will be just fine too! PRAYING FOR MUCH STRENGTH FOR YOU FAMILY!!!!

  19. Thank you for sharing this with us. Over the past few months thousands if us have followed your families journey. Hoping, praying for the miracle you had hoped for. It’s easy for us to read your posts and blogs, give our condolences and go on with our day holding your story close in mind. However, we really don’t know the half of your pain. The misery that was now your life. No mother,father or sibling should have to endure the pain your family has and will for days to come. I believe in God, I believe in his everlasting love, and I also believe he too believed in Gabby and your family. However, after reading this, looking at my daughters as they sleep, I can’t begin to imagine your grief your pain, your Hell on earth. A life altering event as this would make me question his will. Your thoughts and comments need not to be justified by us. Your apology not needed. Why? Cause I’m willing to bed hundreds of us would have said the same thing! We don’t truly know your pain. We can only imagine it. Your family will be in my thoughts and prayers for many months to come. Gabby will be forever remembered! Your family has etched itself into my heart and has given me as I’m sure many others a new look on the appreciation of life, family and believing. Unfortunatly we couldn’t give Gabby life, but Gabby has given so many of us more than we were able to give her.

  20. Words fail me…. your fatherheart and raw honesty is breathtakingly beautiful.
    Im so very sorry for your loss. Gutted.
    Dont ever stop writing or expressing what you are feeling… your words, your love are Gabby’s legacy to you… the power of love cannot divide you from your Gabby. She is yours and always will be your baby.
    Thank you for your blog and insight into your life during this horrific time. Certainly puts things into perspective for me… and I am one of thousands reading reading this.

    Bless you.

  21. Dear John and Carolynn,
    Never apologize for your feelings you have every right to have them. Im a christian and i have many christian friends and everyone of them has had a moment in time where they were angry with God placed blame on him for one loss or another. I appreciate you allowing us into your life at such a critical time in your familys life Gabby’s story has touched me and I BELIEVE that it has made me a better person and a better mother for that I thank all of you. I don’t have all the answers, I’ll never claim to but and this is just my personal belief, I do believe that this cancer is the work of the devil again just my belief and i don’t expect you to follow suit. You’re human you’re parents how else are you suppose to feel. That being said I would like to share with you something I heard coincidently on 9-11-11. This is such a tragic time and this monster came and stole your babys life from you but I beg of you don’t let this monster steal 4 more lives. We can’t bring Gabby back but the best way to honor her is to LIVE and do it to the fullest don’t just go thru the motions.
    You have a real talent for writing use it put all your thoughts and feelings on to paper use it to keep Gabbys story alive use it to spread awareness this may be a way to help you and others at the same time. No matter what I will continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
    Much love

  22. I have just read each and every word of this through sobs, and I am writing this with tears streaming down my face.

    Gabby has left a legacy, not only for me but for parents the world over. Her, and your story has reminded us all that we need to stop. We need to step back from the “more more more” life, as you said, and take more time with our children.

    My daughter is 5. I am guilty of not spending half of the time with her that I should. I’m always studying, or working, or cleaning… those things can wait from now onwards.

    There is nothing I can, or will attempt to say to console you.

    I have absolutely no idea of how you and your family are feeling right now, I haven’t been in your position. But I do know that “Sorry” and other equally empty words won’t even cover a second of what you’ve been through, nor will they cover a single inch of the wounds.

    What I will offer is a thankyou.
    Thankyou for telling Gabby’s story and sharing those precious moments of your beautiful girls life.
    Thankyou for reminding us what is important… our children.
    Thankyou for reminding us what is not.
    and most of all Thankyou for allowing us all to know Gabby, even in a small and distant way.


  23. John, I don’t have words to comfort you. we are very sorry about what happened to your little Angel.

    Sekhar & Sunitha,
    Hyderabad, India.

  24. To Gabbys family. What a sad, sad story but so from your heart. I feel your pain and I agree with every single word you say and I admire you for having the courage to actually speak the words so many feel but are too afraid to say. Those who cling to religion and are too afraid to let go of their belief. All I can do is send you peace from Australia. Love and hugs as well. Colleen

  25. I’m so sorry for your loss, this is the one thing in the world that should never happen to a parent. I too lost a child, I lost my son Evan 15 years go on Sept. 10, the emotions are still there, everything that happened that day was just like it was yesterday. I completely understand your feelings. The “what ifs”, the “what did I do wrong”… So many people tell you, “it’s God’s will”. Is it really???? Nobody who lost a child can tell you how you should feel, they can’t until they have walked in your shoes. I wish I could tell you time will heal all wounds, but that is a lie, time does ease the pain, just a little. I think alot about what he would be today, a freshman in high school, like you, you think about the things that will never happen. I also have a childhood friend if mine who lost her son to a brain tumor, he passed on Sept. 12th 2000, he was only 5 1/2 months old. This time of year, she and I really lean on each other to get through these days. Reading about Gabby the last few weeks and learning if her passing, my heart bleeds for you and your family. You are not alone.

  26. I am so sorry for your loss of your dear sweet little girl, Gabby. I read your Hell on Earth. It’s been three years since my son was murdered, and we are continuing to live Hell on Earth. No one can understand until they lose a child. Your feelings are EXACTLY mine. You pray for your child, but when your prayers aren’t answered, you no longer believe. Nothing can explain the death of a child. I have not been able to watch home videos either. 3 years. I still have not gone through my son’s life belongings. He was only 20, so he only owned bins of clothing and shoes, household utensils, just some stuff. I can’t look through it. I saw a camera on top of one bin, and ran to have it developed. There was a recent picture of him on it, (mind you, it had already been 2 yrs before I even looked at the bin) and this picture, he was shirtless and flexing his muscles. This was the only pic of him on the camera. I think he was telling me to be strong for him. It’s so hard. He left two little boys behind, whom we’ve since adopted, being that he had custody of them. Raising them, and seeing him in them brings comfort and peace, but also torment that he is not here to raise them and love them himself. They are missing out on what would have been such an awesome father! I just want you to know I feel and share your pain. You are not alone. Your little angel will soon begin visiting you, and may you have peace that you all now have a guardian angel. Gabby will always be with you. It’s a hard road to travel, finding pennies from Heaven, signs, and rainbow hellos to fill your void, but this and our memories are all we have, aside from the horrible emptiness and pain. My son’s killers, although known, remain free probably due to corruption, and I have spent 3 years of sleepless nights, days and days of tears, pain, and joy in raising his children the way he would have wanted. I don’t think it gets easier. Much love to your family.
    Carol Teehee

  27. wow! that was so incredible reading this i so!!!!! could not stop crying trying to read through this . I wish i could just reach out and give you all a massive HUG . I have learnt so much through Gabby even though i personally didnt know her but this has so touched my heart in a very very big way . I have two lil girls too and it just makes me realise my priorties !!! my heart breaks for you and your family! sending you love from New Zealand thank you so much for sharing your beautiful daughter Gabby with us xoxoxoxo<3<3

  28. I wrote about 12 comments but erased them. Just don’t know what to say. I never met your family but I was deeply touched. I have a Gabby, only her name is Megan. She is 18 and in college. Like Gabby, she is my world. I was given custody of my daughter when she was 8. As you know, not too many fathers get custody. For 10 years, it’s been the two of us.

    For the past 3 weeks, my daughter has been in school and I’ve been in a bit of depression. Yesterday, I drove up to school, hugged and kissed her before a class and told her I loved her. Told her about a little girl I didn’t know but has touched me. Told her about my feeling depressed and missing her, however, I only miss her now. No depression, I still have my Gabby. She may not be with me right now but she’s still here. My self pity is gone.

    I plan on attending her celebration of life. Please remember one thing, Gabby is a much stronger person than you or I. She brought people together, touched many lives and brought a 45 year old man back to reality. That’s something 99 percent of the people in this world couldn’t do. She is special, but you already knew that.

  29. To Mr and Mrs Vogel and Gabby’s sisters

    You don’t know me and I only know you through following you and your lives through your website and face book page for Gabby. I feel very connected to you all in more ways than you know. Your latest blog entry was absolutely amazing!! I know and understand your feelings about God and taking Gabby as his angel now cause god to my infant grandson Giovianni in January. My daughter had a beautiful baby boy in August of 2010 he was born with a congenital heart defect and suffered horribly. All the while he fought and fought hard just like your Gabby. We, well my daughter got to bring him home after his first of three open heart and needed surgeries a meet 5 months after he was born. It would be his first and last trip home. Bringing your baby home from the hospital was suppose to be happy instead we had a sick sick little boy. We too had a make shift hospital area in our living room to accommodate Gio’s needs. None the less it was the toughest times we had to endure but also the happiest we got to enjoy. 28 days after coming home to be with his mommy and daddy and both our families our little trooper lost his battle with his heart defect and passed away at home with us. It was now what I felt the darkest time of our/MY life. I tried to save him with CPR like I was trained to do but it was over he was gone! I too felt God had done this to punish me for not doing more for my grandson. Why would he take him, why would god give him to us for a mere 5 months to take him. Why would god be so spiteful and tease us with allowinghim to be part of our family for such a short time? I blamed God too.

    What I am saying is believe it or not there is a light at the end of your very dark tunnel. It won’t get easier so I will not tell you that cause your blog brought it all back the loosing of Gio. Remember that Gabby loved you all so very very much and you loved her the same. Be blessed and thankful for the five years you got with her and all the milestones you enjoyed and endure with her. You are all very lucky to have those memories. My daughter only had five months and that is how she had move forward knowing she was only to have five months with her son.

    I hope and pray for the very best for you, your wife and daughters as well as your extended family and friends. You will need each and everyone of them to get through life. Accept the help I didn’t and struggled longer and harder until I Tom the help and support.

    Again the very best to all of you. As we have on our little mans memorial folder. Gone but never forgotten. Precious little guardian angel.

  30. I just wanted to say- I agree with your “better place” thoughts… When my Mother passed away, everyone kept saying she was in a better place. Maybe they were saying it because in heaven there are no terrorists, no starving children, no hate or anything else that is negative– In my mind- the BEST place for her was with ME. It may be one of the “stages of grief” that we all have to go through, but I can’t even imagine telling someone who just lost their most precious miracle, that she is in a better place. Maybe I will figure it out someday, but I dont see it yet…
    Hold your family close! Keep them close forever! You will never regret it. Gabby always felt your love, support and family closeness and that comforted her! XOXOXO to you all! Lala

  31. Wow.
    Right now my daughter just came over to me and layed her head on my shoulder and whispered “I love you mommy”, she must have heard me sniffing and crying as I read your blog. The pain! Oh the pain you feel. I am with you on the subject of being angry with God. As I have written before– the question I keep asking myself about Little Gabby is why why why? You really should not beat yourself up about having anger in this situation. I don’t even know y’all, and I am angry too! But I do pray that soon the anger will subside…. I pray that all of those negative feelings you have float away and you can only feel happiness.(I know right now that is a VERY hard concept)
    I want you to know that your daughter is constantly a reminder for me and my husband. A reminder to hug more, yell less.
    A reminder to say SO WHAT if we dont have enough money to put in a new kitchen, at least we have each other.
    A reminder to pray at night with our children and for them to pray for those who are unfortunate.
    A reminder to clean less and play more games in the afternoon with my older two while
    the baby takes his nap( thank you Gabby!! I cannot stand cleaning!)
    And as a personal reminder to me— to constantly ask myself ” what is this life all about?” What kind of life do I want to have? Two words came to mind, “Family, Happiness….” the words car, house,money never were a thought. Just Family and Happiness. I hope one day you catch yourself smiling and laughing again.
    I will be there on Thursday to meet your special little girl who has forever changed my life.

  32. Please don’t apologize. You have every right to feel as you do. Thank you for being so honest about how you feel and don’t let anyone ever tell you how you should act when you have just gone through what no parent ever should. I read every word and you have touched my heart. I wish with all my heart that you find the strength to get through. You are a daddy and you will, just as Gabby’s mum will too. Its what we do to protect our children and Gabby has 2 sisters.
    Be angry….you have every right to. Maybe if there was a god, he would rid the world of the scum rather than take these young angels from us. I won’t apologize either as I am also a mum with a son who has a rare Cancer.
    If people want to criticize then they are not true christians as you need support now not their opinionated remarks. Let them walk in your shoes for a day- then they can eat their words!
    Thinking of you all at this time when life is hell. <3

  33. The people that truly support you will continue to do so no matter what you say out of pain or anger. I don’t blame you for your doubts or your words.

    I don’t know if this will make you feel better but I believe when we get to heaven everyone we love is there waiting for us. After all, how can it be heaven for Gabby if her mom, dad, sisters and puppy aren’t there with her?

    Time is one of those limits that makes us human- heaven is limitless. I also believe there will be times you will know without a doubt Gabby is with you. I hope you feel that soon.

    God Bless all of you.

  34. Wow, I cant even imagine what the pain is that you are going through! That was an amazing powerful post!! Hope your little angel flys high and always protects her sisters, mother, and you! Gabbys story is truly amazing!! Stay Strong!!

  35. John and Carolyn,
    My heart breaks for you and your girls. Gabby should be here with you.

    I hope that one day you find peace in the very fact that Gabby brought together a community. I’m inspired by that.

    My thoughts are with you and your family. I’m so very sorry.


  36. No one understands the anger that a parent feels when they lose a child. God understands that you are going through all these emotions and trust me he is very patient. It takes time to go through all these emotions that you are feeling. I lost my child 7 years ago and it takes time to get to a place where the pain is more bearable-never goes away, just becomes more bearable. I feel like people need to just let you go through everything you are feeling and not get offended. Unless they have walked in your shoes, they have no idea what it is like. One of your most precious gifts has been taken away and your heart is truly in shreds right now. God sees what you are feeling and he knows what beautiful parents you have been to Gabby. He takes no offense to your anger right now. If he did, there would be many parents in a world of trouble right now as we have all experienced it when our children died. You just let ii put and that is more therapeutic than holding your emotions in. We, the parents who have lost children, are right behind you to hold you up in the worst time of your life. We love you and we admire your fight to save your child! Gabby was beautiful and touched so many of us even if we never met her personally. God Bless you in this part of your journey!

  37. I don’t have any words that will make you feel better. But I do know one thing. Godnever promised us a life without sickness, heartache, and pain,nor a life without saying goodbye to those we love. But Hedid promise that He would be with us and giveus strength when we have none, and those that do leave us,will never have to hurt or suffer anymore. God had to go throughthe same pain of losing a child when his son Jesus died onthe cross, so we could look forward to going to Heaven to be where there is no sickness, heartache, orpain. I pray for your peace and comfort, and remember, even if you don’t agree, God still loves you, and one day you will see that he does. May you cometo know the love and peace of God.

    • Rhonda, I think you are exactly right in what you have said. John, I think you are not only angry with God but with yourself feeling that you perhaps did not do enough or make the right choices, etc. Your wife & daughters need you right now & you will get through this!

  38. My husband and I live your pain and understand every word you say. It is not fair that these innocent children are taken away for no reason. Our daughter lost her 10 month battle with Leukemia in November 2010. We live in hell every minute of every day. They say time heals all wounds…we beg to differ. Thoughts to you and your family as you go through this very difficult time.

  39. as i woke up this morning i was complaining about having to get up so early to get my girls off to school and i stumbled onto ur web site after i read hell i felt like such a piece of ungrateful crap. please know that gabbys story changed me this morning and

  40. I do not even know what to say. There are no words. There isn’t a damn thing I could say to make it ok. It is human nature. Your reaction is justified and understandable. If another person took the life of my child, revenge would be the only thing on my mind. I would hunt them down and God only knows what I would do. You do not have that. You don’t have anyone to blame for this but God. It is a normal human response. You do not owe anyone an apology. No one. For someone to sit behind a computer and judge….well, I would tell you what they can go do….but I would be kicked off Facebook.

  41. You have every right to feel as you do. And although there are certainly very religious people telling you your beloved baby is “in a better place”, what I have experienced is, most people use that phrase to those who are grieving, because they just don’t know what else to say. They themselves doubt it is true too, but trying to express sympathy is so very, very difficult. Anything we say to those in such emotional pain will be woefully inadequate. So may you and your family someday, somehow, find some measure of solace, some measure of peace.I will always remember your story…

  42. Dear John and family,

    No words are going to comfort you or seem appropriate enough to say right now. I will just keep believing and praying that in the upcoming days, weeks, months and years the memories of your sweet angel Gabby will bring some comfort to you and the entire family. She touched so many people. You have every right t o feel every type of emotion you are feeling. I send positive vibes and thoughts your way. Please know you and the family and Gabby are always in my thoughts.

  43. Your words are so powerful and no one should ever have to experience this type of hell. There are no words to say how sorry I am. Gabby and your family are absolutely beautiful and precious and for you guys to have gone through this and still go through this hurt makes me sick. I truly am so sorry and wish strength to you all.

  44. Yesterday at work I had the privilege of hearing a man I have only known for a month speak about his son, Gabriel. Gabriel was 4 when he passed away of brain cancer five years ago. He was also a patient at CHoP. This man said yesterday was the first time since his son’s death that he has told anyone the story. Five years since he’d been able to speak of it. I couldn’t help but think of your family as I listened to him since I’d just read of Gabby’s passing a few hours before on Facebook. The circumstances of him sharing Gabriel’s story and what he said are not important. What is important is that he is ok. I didn’t know him before Gabriel’s diagnosis, so I can’t tell you how much he has changed. But I can tell you what he’s like now. He is OK. He’s a peaceful man, a quiet observer but he smiles and cracks jokes. He spoke of Gabriel with pride, not devastation (anymore). He has kindness in his eyes and face – a kindness and understanding that may have come from what he “knows” that the rest of us who have not been through such heartache do not. He has a tattoo like yours, remarkably so since the names are so similar. He’s about your age. You’ll never be the same, John, and neither will Carolyn or the girls. But I believe you will all someday be OK. Losing a sister will mold the character of your girls–not in the way you wanted–but they will become stronger and more compassionate for it. As adults, I BELIEVE you and Carolyn will get through this and eventually find peace. There’s no need to rush that quest for peace or the need to arrive at “OK”, for you are grieving and there is no time limit. Ignore the people who just don’t know what to say, even me if that’s the case, but know we all mean well when we say our hearts and tears are with you and your family. Gabby was precious and beautiful. Her life had such great meaning.

  45. I’ve been trying to figure out what to say and I just can’t seem to find the right words to say sorry for your/your family’s loss. I wish there was something, anything I could say to take the pain and grief away, but I know that there isn’t. I just wanted you and your family to know that you are in my thoughts and in my prayers.

  46. There are 7 stages of grief we go through. anger at God is one of them. no one should judge how you feel. You may one day feel differently about God. I am so sorry for your loss.

  47. John,

    You are one of the bravest men I’ve ever met, you have opened your soul to share with the world, there is no doubt in my mind your love for your family. You have let the world in and shared the journey with us.
    No one has any right to judge another human being, they are your thoughts, feelings and opinions.

    You have painted the picture with words in crystal clear detail Gabby’s remaining days with you. Thank you for sharing that with everyone, I for one appreciate the honesty.

    I have nothing to offer that would even come close to any sort of comfort, except “I’m sorry”. I truly am sorry that you and Carolynn have to live everyday without your baby girl and Madison & Katie without their sister.

  48. John and family, I have never met any of you, but you have touched my heart in more ways than people who I have met. I don’t know your pain but I can feel it and as I read this post with tears in my eyes, I can totally understand how you feel about the whole heaven and god thing. I’m sorry for your pain, it’s not fair to have to go through such a thing, no one should when it comes to a baby girl. I hope you can all find some happiness! Hugs too you all!! ♥

  49. John – I have no problem at all with anything you said above. I am amazed that you were able to put such beautiful words down on paper, knowing what you have gone thru the last few months and also knowing that you just lost a child two days ago. If that had happened to me, or God forbid, one of my daughters (I am blessed with three grandsons) I can’ imagine being able to speak, let alone write words on paper that made any sense. I have followed Gabby’s illness thru several groups on Facebook who were raising funds or setting up prayer chains for Gabby and your family. I have also contacted a friend of mine about possibly singing at Gabby’s Celebration of Life in October. She sings beautifully and I am sure she would be honored to be part of Gabby’s service, should you choose to have someone sing. I think the way you and Carolynn are handling the arrangements for Gabby is commendable. Having a Celebration of Life on her birthday is such a wonderful way to remember her. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you and your family at this incredibly difficult time. I am sure your neighbors and friends are helping provide meals, etc., but if there is a need for that, I would be more than willing to provide a meal for your family. Just let me know. Sending hugs from a Nana in Harleysville.

  50. So saddened by your loss. Your blog has been the most well written legacy that I have ever read. I hope you continue writing, about everything and everyone you love, I believe, and in that I believe you should conitnue to write and publish your story. A true legacy to a beautiful child.

  51. Simply.. thank you for your openness and honesty; for allowing us all such intimate access to your life through this unimaginably painful experience so that we may more fully understand the fragility and importance of the time we have with our children. Your words have touched so many. Theres nothing you’ve said that requires apologies. Nothing at all.

    My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to you and your family. For what it may be worth, please know that Gabby’s story (your story) has inspired me to try my hardest to be a better parent.. a better person.

  52. Hi John and Carolynn,

    I have been following Gabby’s story since just about the beginning. I too have a five year old daughter named Gabriella and was struck by the similarities as you described your beautiful angel. As I write this I see my Ella’s purple unicorn pillow pet laying on the floor and think I will always associate that pillow pet with your Gabby. I prayed along with the other 15 thousand people who prayed for a miracle for your daughter. I also cried bitterly yesterday when I read of her passing. I have come to question my own faith for all the reasons that you have written and I simply can not conceive of the pain she endured and you all are enduring now. My heart literally aches for your whole family. That being said, you have the right to grieve any way you want, you alone know what it is like to walk in your shoes, none of us do. Anyone who judges you for how you grieve or what you think in the midst of the most horrible experience a person can endure is not really on your side they only trying to support their agenda. You, with your strength have inspired me to be a better mom to my two little girls, your Gabby has inspired me to never, ever, give up. I am so grateful to you for sharing your little girl with us, strangers and only hope that we strangers have been able to give something back to you. I have been awe struck over the past couple weeks to see just how many people have been touched by your Gabby, she was more powerful than probably anyone realized. I think your plan to have an “epic” celebration of her life is a truly beautiful idea. Please accept my heartfelt condolences on the loss of your baby!



  53. John,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. I’ve been in your shoes recently. I held my 5-yr old son in my arms when he breathed his last breath almost six months ago. He also died from DIPG. He fought so bravely for 5 1/2 months from diagnosis to death. I believe Caleb is in a better place now because he is no longer suffering. I don’t understand why Caleb or Gabby got this terrible cancer. I don’t understand why they had to die while other children continue to live. However, I do understand that I will survive this process. It’s a very difficult road to walk. I will not even pretend to understand your thoughts & emotions through this time, because even though we have both experienced the loss of a child from the same type of cancer, we are different people and experience grief in different ways. I do not consider myself “religious”, but I am a follower of Christ, so I choose to turn to and lean on God for strength during this time. I believe He is holding me close and guiding me through this grief. Your loss is profound, your grief feels overwhelming. I am here for you. I will not judge you (it’s not my place). Rant and cry out to God if you want to do so. He can handle it. He understands your grief much better than I. Please know that I will continue to pray for your family.

  54. Sooo sad!!!! What can one say without walking in your shoes…….cherish the wonderful memories and hold them forever in your heart. I pray you all find the peace and comfort to someday soon move on!God Bless and comfort you.

  55. One of the reasons I became a Mormon us that we believe families are forever that if we live a righteous life and follow the commandments that we can live forever in heaven with our families. I wanted that. I wanted to be able to see my parents and my twin nephews that never got to be held or seen by us because they died in the 8th month in the womb. What hurt me, and what had me write what I did was NOT what you said but your pain. The pain I can not imagine that you are feeling.
    I don’t have the magical words to say to help but what I do have is the knowledge that Gabby came into my life as an angel that the Heavenly Father sent down to show his agape for us all. Her journey is not over, her fight has just begun because what she had went through your family can help another family to know what to do.
    I know because of my faith that one day the five of you will be together again.
    You said what would I tell your beloved wife when she cries out for her baby. What I would say and do is sweetie cry scream let the pain out and hold her close praying that our Heavenly Father would take her pain away.
    As u am writing this I am praying that you open your heart to Him and you allow the Holy Spirit to comfort you and to help you and your family.
    Just know HE is always there. It is us who closes the door to him. Much love to you and yours.

  56. John
    You know, I am glad you are able to let your feelings pour out. And you have every right to feel the anger, the pain and the sadness. I sit here with a lump in my throat and tears falling now as I think about Gabby. Its not fair…its horrible, and it shouldnt have been this way. I will never say I understand things like this. I can’t….and I dont. All I CAN say is I am truly so so sorry. The loss is hugely unimagineable.

    You’re right about the fact we need to hug more, appreciate more, enjoy more together. Life is NOT meant to be lived in a rat race or “trying to get ahead”. After reading your posts, I realized that living life in the fast lane, not taking time for those around us….and failing to really savor the wonderful times…makes us miss so much….things that we can’t get back.

    I’m going to take your words to heart….and I want the first hug I give today to be around you and your family…..(((((((((HUGE HUG))))))))! Just know that we that are here….reading your words, really care. We love you guys…even though you dont know us. You have our support, our time….and our friendship.

    See you later…..


  57. Im numb after reading this. Can you love a family you have never met? Brother, just keep writting! You have a gift, and that gift is going to help you heal. This part will be messy at times. Grief is a messy process. Its all over the place, and there is no handbook to tell you how to get through it.

    I wrote a few days ago. We had a baby boy back in 2004. I didnt get to hear is labored breathing, just a heart beat for a lousey 5 min. That 5 min. left me with a whole in my heart, that didnt even begin to start to heal, until one day……….it was about a year later, February..I was on a walk with my daughter ( I put that in because people would tell me how lucky I was that I still had 2 other children, just be grateful. I dont know about you, but I have never been able to “replace” one child for another) Anyway, I suddenly had this sense of William, our baby, being very present. I also had this sense that he was leaving. I know that sounds strange, but I wondered if it meant that our loved ones stay with us until we are ready, they are there to comfort that place that is hurting so bad, that we can barely breath at times. Something in me new that it was time to say good bye. Remember, this was a year later. I felt him go. I felt myself let go.

    God bless all of you.

  58. Dont ever appoligize for what you write or say, people who came down on you have no reason to say anything to you, they have no idea how you feel or what you have been through. i continue to pray for your family nothing can make this right . do know there are alot of ppl praying and standing behind you at this time

  59. John and Carolynn, I know this won’t help your pain but I have a friend in heaven and I’ve asked him to please take care of Gabby and help her understand, and most of all help her be happy. He was a little older when he left for heaven but he understands what she went through. I know he’ll take good care of her. Thinking of you always.

  60. My deepest condolences to your family on the passing of your precious daughter Gabby.
    You are right when you say that no one knows from the healthiest person to the sickest person, young or old when your time may come. However, car accidents, house fires, diabetes, heart disease and cancer are not caused by God. God didn’t murder Gabby, God saw what you saw, a little girl who was in pain, not able to eat, and not being able to do the things she normally would do. When medicine couldn’t ease her pain or cure her. God released her spirit from her sick little body and took her pain away. I hope in time you see that Gabby’s spirit will remain with your family forever. In time you will meet again and Gabby won’t in pain. I will continue to ask God to give your family strength.

  61. At times like this people want to say something, but we don’t always say the right thing or know what to say. When I first heard about Gabby I cried. And then I prayed, every day, all thoughout the day. I read other family’s stories and prayed harder for Gabby and all of them. I begged God and pleaded that he make a miracle happen for Gabby, I even added suggestions on how everyone here could help with that miracle (doctors, nurses, family, friends, total strangers, prayers, etc.). And still nothing was getting better, I continued to pray harder and harder. I’m not very religious but I have always prayed and talked to God, just didn’t find it necessary to go to a building to do it. Anyway, I asked my friends who are very religious to pray and start a prayer chain and they did. Still nothing, so I asked my friends for answers (since they were more religious than me). And they had a difficult time finding those answers, and when they came up with some, I couldn’t buy those answers. I couldn’t and still don’t understand how God would give parents such beautiful, wonderful children and then take them away and in such horrific ways. But I kept praying for Gabby and all the children. And I forced all the negativity out of my mind as I did not want to upset God, I wanted him to see and believe that I was truly praying for Gabby and he would create a miracle. When I heard Gabby had left this world and I cried. I got angry and frustrated, how could this happen?, what happened to the Power of Prayer?, there were thousands of people praying for Gabby, Believing in God and Gabby and Believing God would create this Miracle, what happened? So the anger stepped in again and to be honest hasn’t left yet. I’m still very angry and frustrated. I don’t want to learn a lesson from a little child, not a lesson like this, not this extreme. I know everyone has their own battles to fight, and me and my family have fought many over the years, but not like this. I can’t even begin to imagine how you and your family feel. And sorry is not even close to how I feel for you and your family. All I can say is I will continue to pray for you and Gabby and all the other children and families that are dealing with this. Thank you for sharing your stories with us, and don’t ever doubt yourselves, you are wonderful parents and Gabby knew she had a great family that truly loved her and always will, you could see it in her smiles. I wish you well while you are on this long, hard journey of healing and dealing with your new battle. Again, not always right words, just words to let you know we all are still praying for your family.

  62. I don’t have any great wisdom to share just that we will hold your family in our prayers. I cannot fathom what each of you are experiencing but you have every right to have strong emotions. People have no right to judge others so worry not about these other people. Guard and protect yourselves and know that there are a lot of us wishing you all eventual peace.

  63. I have been “believe”ing since I first hear of Gabby’s illness last year at Zion’s graduation. I have no words to take away the pain or even ease it for that matter; I can’t even imagine what you are going through, but I can tell you this … Your little Gabby changed my life. I have always been too busy for the small things with my three children…even after I stopped working I always had something “more important” to do .. the dishes, laundry, cleaning etc. Gabby taught me about family and what it really is and what it truly means. .. I understand that I am just one middle aged SAHM in Phoenixville, but your little girl changed my life. Not many people can say they have honestly changed somone’s life .. but your Gabby changed mine. and I am sure many others. I will continue Gabby’s memory by living today for today .. hugging my kids, loving my kids and believing in them.

  64. I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t begin to think about how you are feeling. You and your family are in my prayers. I wish I had money to send you to Disney for your other girls and help you with bills but I can’t. All I can do is pray for you and your family.

  65. My heart breaks for you and your family. I want to thank you for writing this. You have the right to feel the way you do, you lost your baby girl. I have two kids and I couldn’t imagine losing one of them. The part you wrote at the end about about work and money really hit hard. We work so that our kids can have everything they need but therefore we are losing alot of time we could be spending with them. So what do you do? Cherish every moment you have with your family and friends , for we are not promised tomorrow. Gabby will forever live in the hearts of the people who’s lives she touched…

  66. I am so sorry for your loss. I know that it sounds like empty words and you have heard it so much latley. Your above writing has effected me so much. I cried when I read it. I lost my mother to cancer (in no way the same thing as losing a child) and I can relate so much to your last days. Wishing you had more time with them to spend, but not wanting that time in the state they were in. I felt like I was in a living hell, whatching my mother sturggle to take her breathe. I respect your view right now about God. I will be thinking of your family… and praying for your family.

  67. No words can take away your pain. No one but those that have been through a hell like yours can understand. I would like to recommend that you read a book called “Heaven is for Real”. It is a book about what a pastors family went through when their 4 year old son almost died from his appendix rupturing. The father is a pastor and he gives his honest reply to GOD. I hope someday you will read this book, because it also gives an account of what that 4 year old boy experienced during his illness. I have found comfort in the book and passed it on. I pray that you will find comfort in it too. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. This is something that my mother-in-law e-mailed me today. She sends me things like this to remind me that GOD is with me always, and yes he is all powerful and can heal someone entirely, and we may never know or understand why such a beautiful little girl had to suffer such hell. But GOD is with you and GOD is good all the time and all the time GOD is good. “God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, or sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”
    ~Author Unknown

  68. I am in tears after reading this. I don’t know the words to say for comfort or peace & I am sure you will never fully find that. I am a mother of 3 & can’t imagine the pain, hurt, anger, confusion & all the other emotions you all are feeling right now. I had a 14 yr old cousin pass away in 2007 from childhood cancer & an uncle I never met pass away when he was almost 2 yrs old to cancer. Your family are in my family’s thoughts. I am so very sorry for your loss, those are the only words that come to mind & I know it does not have much meaning. My heart hurts for you all.

  69. You and your family are truly amazing people. I am not sure I could get it together enough to write something like this up. I understand your feelings about Gabby not being in a better place. I now have a better view on that saying. I wish you and your family all of the best and know that Gabby’s memory will live on with you all. I look forward to seeing the family at the 5k in October. Best wishes.

  70. Survive in spite of the horror of your pain…it is enough to just survive the day because your other daughters still need you too.

  71. I am truly sorry for the pain you are feeling. Your views on God are completely understandable. How can God take a innocent child? How can he be a loving being and still cause so much pain, actual physical pain? I don’t beleive. You should not apologize for the way you feel. You lost your baby, you have a right to be angry and curse “God.” Prayers don’t mean anything, in my opinion. I saw a FB post of someone asking for prayers to find their iPod. I rather people just send positive thoughts, which I was doing for Gabby every day.
    I will forever remember your beautiful little girl and her incredible story. I will also hug my son a little tighter and hold him that much longer. I sat on my couch last night, hugging, kissing and feeling my baby, Gabby made me do that and I am so thankful for that. I am making it a point to, at the end of every day, hold my baby as close as he will allow, close my eyes and feel him. Feel his little body, his breathe.
    To you, your wife and your two little girls, I am truly sorry, my heart goes out to you. Please know that beautiful little Gabby has touched and changed the hearts of many people, she did mine. Thank you for sharing her story.

  72. I wish, with my deeper heart, that I could do something, anything for your family. Gabby’s path was not an easy one–neither is yours. I know there is nothing I can do, but what you asked: believe. And I believe that your love for Gabby will see you and your family through this nightmare.
    The death of a child is a sin. Even in my deepest Christian heart it is something I will never understand or accept. It is murder. The murderer is cancer.

  73. Dear John and Carolyn……..

    You don’t know me, but I have been following your hell almost since the beginning. And yes hell it is. But you aren’t alone……thousands of parents have gone thru this and will go thru this. I have lost 3 members of my family to date and have been where you are. I know this grief all too well.

    All I can advise is use every resource out there that can help you thru this time. Be sure there is help also for your daughters. This is a difficult time and it will take time for all of you to heal.

    Take it day to day……and if this doesn’t help……minute to minute. Pray, cry, laugh, sing……….Gabby would want you to heal……….

    My tears……fell freely as I read your message….I wish you peace……..Laurie

  74. John and Carolynn,

    Thank you for sharing your family’s life with us. And for sharing your feelings. I am still praying for you all every day. People may be offended, but I don’t think God is. God is plenty big enough to take it. Keep talking to Him. Keep telling Him how you feel. And please, from time to time, try to listen to what He has to say to you. I think He much prefers you speaking to Him about your pain and anger than so many others who simply ignore Him.

    Since we work for the same company I understand your struggles with returning to work. But I think you probably will find a huge support system there as well. I kept thinking all day yesterday about the pictures of my animals that I sent Gabby online, and how you said she liked the story of my cat Monster, who loved to sit on my head until he got too big. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life, and Gabby’s life.

    God bless you.

  75. I am so very sorry for your loss. I was VERY angry at God when my mother got breast cancer. She is also blind. Why would he do two horrible things to someone? Maybe being blind, or cancer, but both?! I was mad for a long time. I still dont know why she got it, of all people. I can say, I was not a huge believer in God – I am now. Later in life, he showed me miracles. I know he didnt do that for Gabby, but you need to remember, he only takes the best. I am sorry that this happened to you guys. I dont understand. Why do kids get cancer? Kids?! Why cant it be someone else who had a chance to live life? Its not fair

  76. To the Vogel family:

    We have never met, and my family only lives right around the corner from you, but please know you are all in our thoughts and prayers. I have been following your family’s story from the beginning. I am so sorry for your loss. Yesterday my 6 year old son came home from school. They were all told what happened to Gabby and all I could do was cry. He never met Gabby and said he would have liked to because he heard how strong she was. This is so true.

    I wish your family peace.

  77. As I sit as my desk crying and reflecting on your powerful words I am kind of speechless. I cannot imagine what pain you are all feeling again not even knowing you my heart is in such pain as I feel I do know you and I want to hug all of you. You have to be strong for you girls and find peace. I wish that for you. I too do not get the whole God thing – he can be evil and heartless. I am a Coke girl too! I would love to get a Gabby shirt – maybe add a link on facebook and also how can we all help financially – just donating to her fund? We all want to help just tell us how.

  78. First, let me say how truly sorry I am to hear of the loss of your precious Gabby. I don’t share my story with many people. My daughter is 20 years old. When she was 9 she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately for us it was benign. Our nightmare began in July and I felt exactly how you did. How could God do this to our family. My daughter did have most of the tumor removed successfully and sent home. A week later she seized and suffered a stroke all because her first surgery took longer than expected and the surgeon didn’t insert the shunt he should have. At the age of 9 our lives were completely changed and NOTHING was ever the same again. I know how you felt when you went on that last family vacation and Gabby had to sit and watch. It rips your heart out of your chest and stomps on it right in front of your face. Please know that you are all in our thoughts and prayers. And to those of you who don’t like what John had to say put yourself in his position and imagine how you would feel if that was your family. I am very fortunate that my daughter made it but our life will never be the same. Just as the Vogel’s won’t. Stay strong Vogel Family and know that many people feel the way you do!!!

  79. SHAME ON YOU!!! John has every right to feel this way. Grieving is a process and anger is an important step on the road to healing. Do you have children? If so, how can you possibly say this?

  80. I am so sorry for your loss. Gabby was such an adorable little girl. I can’t imagine the pain you all must be going through..my thoughts are with you. There is a saying that I love..”memories are the most beautiful pictures our minds can paint and nothing can ever erase them.” Gabby will always be with you even if it is in a ray of sunshine or a soft breeze or even a butterfly. My thoughts and love are with your family.

  81. I’m sitting here crying barely able to see the screen. You and your family amaze me with the courage and strength you’ve shown. Thank you for sharing your feelings with complete strangers, I’m sure it’s not easy putting this all in writing and reliving it over and over. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should feel, how she’s in a better place.. I agree 100% with you, her better place was with her family, not in Heaven. It makes you question faith, and if there really is a God, why does he let innocent little children suffer like this?? Someday, when you meet her again, I hope you find the answers to the these questions of “why?”. Until then, try to stay strong. You have many people believing in your family.

  82. I have no words. Your post was beautiful, and touching, and honest. To say that I’m sorry for your loss sounds so hollow. I myself have a 5 year old daughter who just started kindergarten. She still carries around her blanket that’s she’s had since she was born. She loves to play with her brother and sisters. I don’t possibly know, but I can imagine, in a fractal sense, how much pain you and Carolynn are living. After hearing about Gabby’s struggle, so sudden, so swift, I hug my children a little tighter. Just thinking about not having my Gwen with me makes me cry. So as hollow and superficial as it sounds, I am DEEPLY sorry for your loss. I am DEEPLY sorry that Gabby had to experience the pain and sorrow of cancer. I am DEEPLY sorry that a miracle never came. I am DEEPLY sorry that your family was robbed of it’s Gabby.

    I am not a religious person, I don’t agree with organized religions, but for those who find solace in it, I will not fault them. Whatever your beliefs, whatever they were before Gabby got sick, whatever they are now after she was stolen from you, I wish you peace and solace from wherever you can find it. Obviously, you will never not love your Gabby, you will never not miss her, you will never not feel like her life was ripped from yours; but I hope that someday you can find and live a life that makes you happy, and one that brings you inner peace. That is my wish to you and your family, John. To one day move beyond just merely surviving each day without your beautiful baby girl, and to find happiness in remembering her, and moving forward while the pain fades.

    I can not fathom being in your shoes. Peace and love to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your journey and your heart with strangers. Rest assured, it did not go unaprreciated; because of your willingness to share, my kiddos will get a little extra love. Take care of yourself, and your family, and I hope you are surrounded and lifted by love for Gabby’s Epic Celebration, and whenever you may need it. Always rembember that there are those of us out there that will always remember Gabby, even though we never even met her.

  83. Dearest John,
    I know there are no words that could make you feel better at this terrible time. The unspeakable and horrific experience you and your family have been forced to endure is something I cannot begin to fathom. You are absolutely entitled to everything you are feeling right now, and anyone who would judge you for that is being insensitive beyond belief, and probably has a very limited ability to feel empathy for what you must be going through. I think the most difficult thing about being a person of faith is understanding why God allows all of the terrible suffering in the world, and tere is no need for you to apologize for your feelings or the need to express them! I only hope that you can feel the outpouring of love from all who have been touched by you beautiful angel, Gabby, and let it envelope you, comfort you, and sustain you throughout this difficult journey! I do believe in heaven, and heaven has just received the best gift in Gabby! I know she is there in perfect splendor, free of all pain and sadness! I feel her right now! I am truly honored to have been touched by your beautiful Gabby! Thank you for bringing her to me! I really hope that you take that trip to Disney to honor Gabby, and just to be together as a family! It will help your other two daughters with their journey through the grieving process, and I know you will feel Gabby all around you! And she will be smiling down on you, enjoying every minute right along with you! I don’t know you and your family, but I love you all the same, and I will pray every day for you all! I believe in you! BELIEVE!

    Love, Jen

  84. With tears in my eyes, my heart continues to break for your family after the fight and loss of your beautiful little girl. I am so sorry. You have every right to feel anger, sorrow and every other flood of emotion that comes to you. And no one should tell you not to!

    Gabby was so lucky to have such a wonderful family and you were so lucky to have such a beautiful, brave princess. I can only hope that as time passes, some of the memories of the last months that haunt you now, will fade to the more beautiful memories you have all shared.

    Your words are beautiful. Thank you for seeing through your pain to share with us and hopefully making all of us slow down, and become better parents.

  85. Can I first just say…I’m so sorry! As a parent myself I can’t even began to image the pain,maddness or guilt you all must carry. I have also followed This precious lil girls life and when I seen on Sept.11 I said to my husband, honey my lil girl has passed! She wasn’t even my lil girl but I found myself crying as if I lost my very own and thought HOW. WHY! then I thought if I feel this what must they be feeling? I do believe in God an I do believe in miracles and I do believe he heals the broken hearted! My 5 yr old son asked me yesterday, I pray and pray and why don’t he ever hear me an I thought of you and your family and can’t agree more with the things you have said. Just know my heart bleeds for each of you and I will believe and I will pray for peace and comfort…thank you for sharing your precious child’s story with each of us.

  86. Dear John, Carolynn and family,
    You are not judged. Anger is an important step in the grieving process. Be as angry as you need to be. That is your right. I hope that in time, your anger lessens, your memories make you happy instead of sad and that you hold on to each other as you try to put the pieces of your life back together. You are such an inspiration to all. No one has the right to judge you. I pray that you will find your way through this. Having lost many family members too young, I know the grieving process well. Don’t misunderstand me for I have never lost a child and can’t even fathom it. Ido still trust in God. Always will. I hope that someday in the future, you will again as well.

    May God give you the strength to muddle through this. I have and will continue to pray for you.

  87. I just want to say thank you so much for letting us all in and keeping us updated even in this very hard time. John, you’re blogs and stories are very powerful and I encourage you to continue to write. Let all your emotions out. We are all here to listen. Never apologize. I can not even imagine any of the pain and mixed emotions you and your whole family are feeling. I am so so sorry for your loss of that beautiful baby girl. She will truly be your angel and will guide you when needed 🙂 as a mother of three boys you have my word that I will hug cherish and tell them I love them every second!! I look forward to all the blogs in the future. Stay strong!!!

  88. Dear John,

    God didn’t put that evil tumor in Gabby’s precious little head and murder her. He didn’t “do this” to punish you and certainly not to punish her. God wept with you throughout her pain and has and will weep with you through yours. And when your sweet little Gabby passed, God took her in his loving arms, made her healthy and whole. It is so hard to understand and comprehend as you sit here on this imperfect Earth without your child, but she is forever fine. Her soul cannot die, her light can never be extinguished.

    It is perfectly understandable to be angry. God can take it. So His followers on Earth should be able to take it to, and not judge. You lash out and say whatever you want, you have that right. We all want to see God as a magic Genie that can snap his fingers and answer our prayers exactly as we want Him to. It doesn’t always work like that and that is the most difficult thing for us to grasp here on Earth, as we can’t see and do not know or understand why prayers aren’t always answered the way we desperately beg for them to be.

    I caught from your readings that you felt Gabby was mad at you, felt she might have felt you lied to her. It didn’t matter to you, for you loved her with all your heart as you knew she loved you. That is how God feels about you, you can be as angry as you want to be, as angry as you need to be, God will still love you. And if God can do that, Facebook followers need to follow His example. Although we don’t understand Him, He understands us perfectly. He knows why you are angry, because you loved so hard, it was impossible to let go. You treasured His Gift of Gabby that was given to you.

  89. Thank you so much for sharing your daughter with the world. She is absolutely a beautiful girl. She has inspired me to be a much better mom and I thank you for that.

  90. The last few days I’ve seen people’s love and mourning and caring shown for your family. It’s so touching and moving to see how many lives Gabby affected. I see the posts about her being and angel now, in God’s hands, her life here was to teach us all a lesson, etc… and while I know I would appreciate all of that were I in your shoes… all I can think of is the feeling of SCREW THE LESSON, I want my DAUGHTER! I think about how Thursday night will be for you all; how exhausted you must feel with everything; the agony of potentially consoling those of us who will come and cry about your loss; and how there could potentially be several hundred people showing up to show their love and support. How I would appreciate it all, but I’d also want to crawl in a hole with Carolynn and the girls and just hide from it all. All this babbling being said… please don’t ever be sorry for the things you say during your grieving, or how you interpret things being said, how painful it is to hear that she’s “in a better place” when that place truly would be with you. Only those who’ve lost a child in such a way can truly understand how you and your dear family are feeling. Love to you all, support to you all, and shoulders if you need them.

  91. I am so sorry for your loss. I cant say enough how strong your family is and how much respect I have for your incredibly brave daughter. I too find myself questioning the way God works. No one should have to feel that way and its not fair. I drive schoolbus and I have a little boy on my bus whom last year was a happy child, a little roudy, but all around a good kid. This year, as I approached his bus stop, I noticed a different child. He had sadness rather than happiness, he went right to his seat and sat down, where he would have normally talked my ear off the whole ride. The next day, his mother explained that he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and that he wouldnt be riding the bus very often, but because he was feeling okay he wanted to ride. I dont know much about this horrible disease, but I know that was not the child I knew from last year. I HATE that anyone, especially children have to deal with cancer. Cancer is a bully. Please accept my deepest condolences. I cant imagine life without one of my beautiful daugthers, and Im sorry that you have to

  92. John,
    Most of us don’t know what hell you are truly going through! People shouldn’t be hateful during this time of grief, no matter what you write! You have your opinion, and need to grieve! These people shouldn’t take what you say to heart, you are the one in the moment, not them! Grieve as you must!!! Know we are hear from you, no strings attached, no grudges held! We Love you all!!!

  93. You couldn’t have been any more right about the hell you talked about and all the things you said concerning God. Yes, I too have faith, prayers and love for every single child who suffers. If I went through what you and your family did I would say the exact same thing. You do not owe a single person an apology. Not one single person. In the end the parents always suffer the most. I am so very sorry for your loss. I agree God should have done better. Maybe someone will now hate me but that’s OK.

  94. John and Caroline,
    I am so sorry for the tragedy that has fallen on your beautiful Gabby, you, and your family. I hope people will respect your right to be bitter, but I will pray for Gabby and all of you. I recently lost my mother, and although it has been a sad time for me & my family, your story helps keep things in perspective. As a nurse who has cared for many terminally ill children, I have seen what you are going through, yet would never suggest thay I understand how you feel. Hopefully others will do the same. Thank you for reminding me what is important in life, our children, family and friends. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  95. First, our family’s thoughts and prayers are with you now and like they have been everyday since this all started in May. I cannot imagine the courage it must have taken for you to share your final days with Gabby. We are just so sad for your loss there are not words powerful enough to describe the feeling Keith, Emily, Erin and I have. It truly does break our heart as it does so many others. Your words of wisdom and neverending belief in your angel are in inspiration to me. You guys will always be in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.

  96. John and family members i am so sorry to hear about this awful news but just know she is not suffering anymore i know you would much rather have her sitting next to you on the couch but thats not how it worked out and for that i am truly sorry and sympathetic. Her life of 5 years and pain will never be out of your mind but as time goes by try and let the suffering she went through erase from your mind and always remember the good times. She is truly an angel now and know that she is watching over you.

  97. Vogel Family
    Each time I hear of a child’s passing, I am heartbroken. I too question why God does this to the young and innocent. Why must they suffer so much? Why are we blessed with beautiful, innocent children so full of life and potential only to have them taken away from us so quickly?
    I wish I knew why. But you have ever right to be angry, heartbroken, bitter, and resentful. Those emotions will never bring Gabby back, however. But one day you move past all that negative anger.
    When your family is ready, you will celebrate the love, the joy, the legacy of Gabby. Your hearts will forever be missing Gabby. But it will be with fond and happy memories, not of her illness.
    You may not BELIEVE it now or feel it, but Gabby is with you, she is always going to be with you. As long as you BELIEVE in her, you will feel her all around you.
    I wish you a peaceful heart and healing.
    Colleen Ounan
    Willow Grove, PA

  98. John I am so sorry for what Gabby, you & your family has gone through these last couple of months. I have been following Gabby’s journey since the beginning and was absoluetly moved by her strength along with you & your families strength. Noone should ever have to go through that. I have read each one of your journal entries and cry with you. You have every right to feel lost and angry. You need to feel all these emotions to heal and Yes, you might not ever get over the passing of Gabby but you & your family will move on. Gabby will be your guardian angel. She will be with you, Carolynn and your girls until you meet her again. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  99. My heart aches for you. My only child, a daughter just turned 15 years old. It seems be bicker daily now. I needed to read this. I do not believe she is in a better place. I uderstand your anger. I don’t even knwo you or your family and I’m furious too. She was beautiful. O dp believe however pne day you guys will reunite.

  100. My heart is breaking for you all. I too think your reactions are normal and I’m sorry that people jumped on you for being honest in your pain. I don’t know why bad things happen and I won’t give you platitudes about it being His will and part of a divine plan because that doesn’t help anyone. What happened to Gabby sucks. Period. It isn’t fair and nothing is going to make it fair. But I know, without a doubt in my mind, that God loves Gabby and you and your family beyond all of my understanding and all of my ability to explain it. I wish peace for you and Carolyn and the girls and you will remain in my prayers.

  101. Dear Vogel Family,
    When Job’s “friends” saw his agony at all the loss he experienced, they couldn’t speak at first, they just sat and shared in the space that was his living hell. the problem was when they wanted to try and figure out stuff and started speaking! I will be sitting here silently in Chicago during the services you are holding to celebrate Gabby’s life. You did not choose to have her or your family be a reminder of how precious life is but I want you to know that is what has taken place.

  102. Thank you to shared share your thoughts with us, I know it is hard to said anything at this time of grief, only way we can understand our life is from Jesus, God give to us His only Son, and them He come from heaven to teaching us what is the truly love and we crucified Him, I just can imagined how painfully is was lost his only child, and then it is hard to understand that was the only way He redeemed us from sins, He could be here in 2011 preaching and be with his friends, but he decided to died for us, and them that’s the way life is, fe is a mystery and we just need to asking God to helping us to see with His eyes and truly believe that Gabby before was even born, God already was thinking about her, It was his daughter since Gabby was conceived, so we are here building moments for our Home there of course He wants us to be happy enjoy life, grow up healthy, and be here forever, but again just by fe we can understand that her shore life and her good example of be strong it is example for us adult and how knows somebody even turn to God or even inside make us to be a better people, so mine respects to you and your family, I will pray to my God to helping all of us to understend His plans for your wonderful family.

  103. First I would like to thank you for sharing your beautiful little girl and family with us. Second I would say, PLEASE do not appologize for your feelings.. I was reading those comments last night and they should be appologizing. They were so quick to defend themselves instead of looking at the truth of the situation. This is NOT about them. You have every right to be angry and questioning. Trust me, God can handle it.
    You are facing something that, as a Mother, I cannot fathom. I too would be doing the same. There are no words to console you or your wife.. Or your 2 little girls either. As a Christian I know God will bring your family through this, one day at a time. As a Mother, I wouldn’t want to hear any of it.. I would want my baby back..
    To “Believe” means you have faith. Your family had faith at a time that most of us would not. I pray that you will continue to believe that God will bring your family’s pain around. Gabby is in His arms and although I know I would feel my child’s better place to be in MY arms than HIS in your situation, He will turn this around for your family.. Please continue to believe.. Because of your family I have learned to do the same..
    God Bless you and please keep us up on how your family is doing. I will be praying for all of you.
    Much love,

  104. I am truly sorry for the pain your family has been forced to go through. I don’t understand why you can’t still take a vacation. It is what it is and rules are rules, I suppose. I hope in time, probably a long, long, time, you’ll realize that GOD is in control. And you’ll remember and celebrate Gabby’s wonderful, exceptional 5 years. And you’ll be grateful that her suffering was so brief. If you feel like you spent too much time at the office, who doesn’t. But you were there for her when you needed to be. You can be proud of that. You handled a bad hand as well as you could have. You went all in; but there can only be 1 winner. We just have to trust that GOD really does know what HE’S doing. We aren’t the ones that can see into the future.

  105. I’m so very sorry…there aren’t any words but oh how I wish there were. I want you to know that I have also questioned a G-d who would take a child, who would create this hell on earth. You are not alone in that. But your story has touched me deeply, and I will keep Gabby in my heart. I hope that one day you will be able to move through this world again with some peace, for yourself, for your wife, for all three of your daughters. Thank you for sharing your story.

  106. I am so sorry for your loss! You are intitled to your opinion, nobody can feel the pain you are feeling. Bless you and your family!

  107. First and formost, I want to tell you how sorry I am for the loss of your beautiful girl. She was a precious gift who left this earth far too soon. I know this is too hard to see right now but things will get better with time. I volunteered in the oncology department at CHOP for many years and saw so many families go through what you are going through right now. I can promise that there will be happy times again. The pain will lessen though you will, of course, never forget your baby. You will be able to put her in a different place in your heart that will allow to feel love, joy, and peace again. Allow yourselves time to heal, time to process all that your family has been through, and focus on the 2 lovely girls you still have. As spouses, take care of each other, support each other, lean on each other. You need each other now more than ever. Love, peace, and healing to your entire family during this difficult time…

  108. Your beautiful family has touched my heart in a way that will never be forgotten. Please keep blogging if you can. If people don’t like what they read then they can stop reading. You have my love and support no matter what.

  109. Pingback: This is the most powerful, emotionally moving thing I have read today (and probably will read all week): « InvestmentWatch – The best source of news, analysis, and intelligent discussion

  110. Dear John and Carolynn:
    My daughter goes to school at Schuylkill and I have been following Gabby’s story from the start. My heart breaks for all of you. John, you have every right to your feelings and NOBODY should critize you. You are traveling a path that no parent ever wants to travel, and if your words were offensive…too bad, people need to open their minds and hearts to your feelings! My 8 year old daughter came home from school yesterday and said to me..” Mom did you know that Gabby died last night?” I told her I did and she asked me “Why would God do that? Why would God let that pretty little girl die so young?” How DO you answer that? It is hard to hold onto your faith in God when things like this happen. I can imagine that I would feel exactly the same way you do. As far removed from the situation as I am, it makes me question the “motives” of God.
    This post and your previous post moved me to tears. You are a very inspirational writer. I would love to attend the service for Gabby, but I can only imagine how difficult that day will be for you. The last thing you need are complete strangers trying to console you. Please just know that even we strangers have been touched by your angel and have you and your family in our prayers. Wishing you comfort in the days to come as you are surrounded by your family and friends. May your angel forever be in all of our hearts.

  111. I feel your anger and I know your pain! It isn’t fair and your right there is no better place for her to be than with you guys! Its going to be a long and painful road ahead, but she is waiting at the end of that road so keep on keepin on! And your other two babies need you to be strong for them just as you were for Gabby. Sending hugs your way, and my deepest deepest condolences! May she be forever your angel.

  112. I just want to say that you shouldn’t feel guilty for having to be at work. Working allowed you to provide the necessities and fun things for gabby and your other children. I know that every single parent that works, feels guilty including me. But, you have to really think that we all work to essentially give our children a better life. Gabbys story has touched me in ways you’ll never know. And as a parent I can’t imagine what you’re going through. My little cousin passed away from brain cancer as well in 2007 and every year we’ve had a 5k in his memory. It keeps him alive. I look forward to the updates on gabbys Facebook page and website. It’ll keep her with us.

  113. I have no words. I can only offer my deepest sympathies. I hope, in time, you are able to find some measure of peace and comfort and joy again. Much love to you and your family.

  114. Dear John and Carolynn,

    So very sorry for your loss. I lost my husband at a very young age several years ago and though it in no way compares to the loss of a child, I would just like to say that no one should ever judge your thoughts or your feelings. You have every right to greive anyway you want. I hated God too. Hating and bitterness gave me something to feel besides pain. Hating gave way to indifference. and although I raise my kids in the church, my heart just isn’t in it anymore and I don’t know if I’ll ever get that faith back. May time ease your pain. There’s nothing else to say….

  115. I am so sorry the pain your family is going through. Do not apologize for the way you feel. I can not imagine going through this and having the emptiness you are feeling right now. Angry, sad, whatever it is you have the right to feel this way. You are such a strong person to share your feelings with all of us. We will be at the 5K run for Gabby and showing support for your family.

  116. Words can never express the sincere heart break I feel for your loss. So many things cross my mind, like you had no choice but to work, who wouldn’t want to run away, peace be with you and your family. Gabby’s struggles have touched and changed more lives than you can imagine. Like a gentle breeze smelling sweetly of flowers, her life will move souls all over the world. The injustice that a child should suffer can never be explained, but the love that will survive that suffering is eternal. God bless you and your family.

  117. I don’t know you and your family personally, but I have followed Gabby’s story and your family’s story from the very beginning. “Hell on earth” is an apt description of what everyone in your family has endured during Gabby’s illness. I have no kids of my own, but Gabby really touched my heart, as did your whole family. I cannot imagine the dept of your loss.

    I am so sorry that others felt the need to judge you; that is inexcusable at any time, especially at a time like this. I am not a religious person by any means. I don’t pray, but I held hope that Gabby and your family would have more time together, that Gabby would continue to laugh and smile and to tell you she loved you for much longer than she had the chance to.

    Please continue to post; please continue to be as honest as you have been. No one has the right to attack your beliefs and thoughts about the hell your family has been through. Please know that there are people out there who feel the way you do and who understand. There are no words to describe the loss of a child or the hellish disease she had.

    John, Carolyn, Katie and Madison: I will think of you often. Gabby had the best gift any child can have in this life: a family who loved her and who will continue to care about her and to love her. Each of you have touched my heart in your own way.

  118. A week ago, I didn’t know Gabby, or the Vogels. Now I’ll never forget you, and have sobbed with you. I’m a mother of 2. You’ve put so much in perspective, and I feel your pain, and grief, and questions. We’re going to play Mario Kart as soon as my kids get off the bus today. I’m so sorry.

  119. Nothing anyone says can make you feel better, so I will simply say… I agree with and support you and your family. You are in my thoughts.

  120. I know there is absolutely nothing I can say to bring you comfort. I wish there were. I don’t understand why things like this happen. Why the good can be made to suffer and the horrible can run free and healthy. I’ve had to accept that things don’t always balance out. My wish for you is that you do find balance and are able to relish in the memories you did make and enjoy them in peace knowing you were given such a gift in Gabby but also in her sisters and in each other. My heart is breaking with yours and I wish you nothing but peace as you struggle through such a devastating loss.

  121. I am crying for you and hardly know where to begin. Let me first say thank you. Thank you for sharing you experience with everyone. Most people have no idea of the realities of caring for a sick loved one. The hurrendous choices that have to be made. The agonizing moments, days, hours, seconds that you have to survive. It is disgusting and cruel that anyone has the gall to challenge what you are feeling. Grief and anger are your reality right now and appoligies are not to be made for that. I am sorry that you have had that pressure layed atop of what you are going through. I am a mother of three (ages 13, 8, and 2) and a hospice nurse. I have deep empathy for all that you and your family are experiencing. I am from Malvern (now in the Lehigh Valley) and I don’t believe I know you, but came to know of Gaby’s page from friends on fb. I am generally not the type to comment on these pages because I don’t like to intrude on people and I don’t know if there is any thing that can be said of comfort you at all, or if you will ever even feel up to reading the responses we leave here. My spirituality has taken a lot of turns of the years. At times I have felt full of faith and at others times felt it was all just ignorant mythology. I don’t believe any religious practice has “the” answer. Bottom line – no body knows. But what I do believe is that there is no plan. A plan that leaves you unable to hold your baby girl would never make any sense. There is no “good” to come out of this. Of course you will go on loving your girls and returning to life in some fashion but this did not happen for a “reason” and you are so right…. there was no “better place” then with all of you. For myself I have come to believe that illness is cruel and indiscriminant, like all tradgety and I can not see it as a plan and I don’t see god (if there is a god) as a puppeteer- moving us around and giving and taking for the heck of it or even for some greater purpose. That is just b.s. if you will. What I hope, is that if there is in fact a god, that what god really does is give the love and support and peace and strength that you will need to move through this senselessness and go on loving your girls with joy everyday. Maybe that will come from supporters around you now or on a special day down the road when one of Gabby’s sisters does something special that makes you laugh, or I don’t know when. But if there is a god I believe that that is the kind of stuff god is all about. I don’t say that to in any way admonish or change what you are feeling right now. I say that because it is the only way god makes any sense to me. I hope you can feel some of the love being sent to you through words or prayers or deeds and that you find some moment of peace.

  122. John, dear John, dear Carolynn, dear Madison and dear Katie,
    Thank you so much for sharing your feelings and sharing the last days of the horrible fight of Gabby. Let me tell you, I haven’t finished yet (I still have to read after her coming home this weekend), but I really want to express my and our feelings to you. I have never felt such a pain in my heart, constantly, thinking of Gabby and of you, during the day, going to bed and waking up at night. As if she is taken from us, and imagine, we didn’t have an empty bed for our child at home, no, we have our children. Imagine what YOU are going through, it is so cruel. As a mother of 4 of your children’s age, Julia as a friend of Katie, thinking of the pure innocence of a child, of Gabby’s little hands, of Katie’s innocence when she was here playing with Julia (and she was sad), it is so unfair. We followed you every day (and we will continue doing that!), and we really hoped these horrible pictures of Gabby’s face, so sick, were because of a swelling which was due to the chemo-treatment, and finally this treatment would make her better. And we could hardly follow the bad news, it all went so quick, she got worse every hour. When we brought Katie home that Friday afternoon, we knew and felt that little Gabby was fighting inside, not being able to do anything with her body. And seeing shoes on your steps made me cry. I felt embarrassed, I was crying and Carolynn was standing there as a strong loving mother. I should be strong for her! And everytime we put a card in your mailbox, we see this swingset. A young happy family should live there, 3 blond girls should be playing outside and laughing, but now we felt the sadness of a sick girl inside and a broken family who surround her with so many love. God, that girl should be playing in that sun, instead of being taken away in a funeral car! Yesterday I wrote in our card to you that I don’t understand God’s choice. I still don’t understand, and reading your message on facebook John, it made me so sad. I would like to scream with you and your family, why is this for? This hell for Gabby and her parents. We prayed and prayed and sent you our positive thoughts, and you were trying to make the best of it when Gabby was still with you, doing things she would like, loving her. And the pain you must have felt seeing that she couldn’t enjoy, must have been so horrible. And the last pictures of a loving mom and dad with this little girl in your arms, she must have felt all your comfort and love before she had to give up her fight. But I can imagine it must be so hard for you to keep your faith in God now. Dear family, I want to scream to him, but I also want to scream to you: please let us support you, in any way. With Julia’s friendship for Katie, with our heart and feeling we share for you. Let your love for Gabby make you strong, forever! I really felt helpless all the time, only sending cards and messages and feeling with you, but not being able to send you that miracle we all wished so much. And I believed in it… And thinking of the future, of your home now with the empty spot, with the events which are coming, her 6th birthday, Katie’s birthday, Halloween, Christmas, last year these were normal happy moments in your life and in a few moments they changed. Please John & Carolynn, let us help you getting through this difficult moments. You have your family and friends now, but the grief of grandparents and uncles and aunts must also be so difficult. Let Julia be there for Katie. Let us be there for you! We are sad that on Thursday we are not in Phoenixville, but on October 9th we will be there. And on Thursday night our heart will be with you (as all the time). Please apologize any “strange” expressions, as english is not our native language, I might make mistakes. But Dutch or English, the pain in our heart is the same. Yesterday Julia took off her Get Well Gabby bracelet at the busstop, she cried, but now she is wearing it again, in honor of Gabby. And of all of you! Hang in there, we won’t stop thinking of you and we will continue following you! It is so cruel, so unfair, we must share this with you!!! Big hugs for you, and for Gabby who is in our heart, Maarten & Heleen Viskaal and Iris, Julia, Ralph & Max

  123. What can I say? Nothing! Nothing will make this nightmare stop for you or your family. Hug and kiss your wife and your daughters. They are the only ones who really know what you are going through. Please remember that as a family you are all in it together. Hope peace finds you soon.

  124. John, I just read this posted by an old acquaintance to facebook. Please do not feel you need to apologize or delete comments from facebook. Those who condemn you for expressing your feelings should be ashamed of themselves as they have probably not been through the hell you and your family have been through. You have every right to feel as you do and they can chose to not read the posts.
    We are thinking of you and your family during this time.
    If you need to get away to the beach please contact me. We live in NC in Oak Island about three blocks from the beach and about a 9 hour drive from Philly. You and your family can come stay with us and enjoy the calm, soothing atmosphere at the beach. It would be crowded but we would love to have you. Or we visit family in Phila. several times throughout the year and maybe you could house sit for us during one of our Philly trips. I am a firefighter and my husband a detective (threw this in so you would know we are decent people 🙂 ) Our community is small and not touristy. This time of year the tourists have gone home, the beach is empty and the weather still warm enough to enjoy it. We have all the beach supplies you would need.
    I know this offering doesn’t help pay the bills but it is what I can offer in addition to thoughts and prayers for you.
    Hugs to you and your family from across several states,
    Susanna Williams & Family

  125. Thank you so much for sharing Gabby’s story with all of us. Thank you so much for being honest and raw in the midst of your insurmountable grief. Not long ago, I didn’t even know who you were. Now, Gabby and the rest of your family will be in my heart for the rest of my days. Your writing is magnificent and powerful. It is a grounding for those who read it. Words escape me. Perhaps it is because some things just have no words to express them. Your anger is palpable, and natural. I sit here in tears for you and hope that somehow people’s prayes and wishes for comfort and peace for you will be felt.
    My blog today is in honor of your precious Gabby.

  126. I came across your site through a Facebook link. I don’t think you need to apologize for your words. They’re harsh and jarring and hurtful — but so is everything you’re going through. We’re only human — and I think just like we’re able to understand and forgive our kids when they scream at us out of anger and frustration and sadness, then God can understand and forgive when we’re angry with Him. Don’t apologize to anyone for how you grieve.

  127. As I read this powerful insight into your pain, tears roll down my face. I’ve never met you, and have only followed Gabby’s incredible fight for a short time…and I couldn’t agree with you more. You have the right to be angry. I’m not a religious person by any means. I don’t judge you, only support you! I have 3 daughters, the middle child is 5, and I can’t come close to feeling the pain and anger and saddness you feel. Time won’t heal all wounds, and YOU know where Gabby’s heaven is. This may help, and it may not, and you may have heard it a hundred times… there’s no more pain suffering for her. There will always be pain for you and your family. I don’t say that to be crude, only to be realistic. We’re all on borrowed time, in this temporary home, whether you believe in God or not. I know you BELIEVE you will see her again, and she’s counting on that…there’s never a goodbye…only see ya laters! NEVER EVER blame yourself, you can’t have take backs… BE THANKFUL for the memories you have and the times you shared…it won’t get you through, but it will help. Think about your daughters, and their pain too. No one can take away your love from Gabby!!! EVER! And you will never forget…but don’t lose sight of what you still have either. You’re family is strong, and you will need each other in the coming days, weeks, years. My Deepest Thoughts are with you, and I will never forget Gabby! Thank you for sharing her with us!!

    The Slagles, from Kirby, WY

  128. I just put in a call to the Make-A-Wish foundation to see if there are still any options for the Disney trip. I am waiting for a call back from a Director right now and will update as soon as possible.


  129. I have been following your story since the beginning.. My heart breaks for you.. I have a 5 yr old daughter, and I can only imagine the pain you are feeling.. It is not fair to you and your family.. 1 year ago on Oct 4th I lost my best friend, soul sister to a massive brain aneurysm.. She was 33, she just had a baby.. Her daughter turned a yr old on Oct 24th.. Three weeks after her mom died.. We had been best friends since high school.. I still cry over her, I still ask why.. I understand the pain and the frustration you feel.. I feel it everyday.. I will not judge you for anything you have said or will say.. Because I have proberly said it or felt it.. Everyone keeps telling her mom and I that it gets easier but it does not.. There is always something that happens that makes me think of her, or try to call her.. I have prayed everyday for Gabby and your family.. And I will continue to do so.. You have a long road ahead of you, just remember that you have people that love you and believe in your family.. You have to stick together now, you guys only have each other.. But I do hope that Gabby is watching over you guys and giving you the strength to get thru each day..

  130. i know how you feel i lost my 15 yr old in 2009 to cancer and i hated hearing your son is in a better place no he is not he should be playing football which he loved to do and playing with is baby sister that he loved so much. believe me my pain is with you and your gabby i am so sorry that you had to lose her so young. our children are supposed to outlive us!!!!!!!

  131. Everything you are feeling is exactly what every parent has felt that has had this experience with their child. My oldest child and my only daughter died from complications of a brain tumor on September 1, 1999. Our minister told me at diagnosis never to ask why, because there were no answers that would ever make me understand. When our precious Katharine passed she was age 7 and 9 months to the day. Our minister went with us to the funeral home the next day and he told me several things that at the time did not help at all….Now they make some since (some) one he told me I could be as mad at God as I wanted to, God understood, and his soulders were big enough to take it. Two that Katharine now knew the end of the story. When Katharine went to surgery (she was airlifted to Lubbock, TX and operated on Friday March 13, 1998) I promised her that God and Jesus would go with her. Six weeks after her operation we were having to live at Ronald McDonald house in Lubbock and she told me “When I was in surgery Jesus held my hand.” I asked her what she meant, she would never elaborate (very Katharine) she would just say “Jesus held my hand.” During the following summer after we had been released from radiation and she would feel bad and I would become upset she would say to me with all the wisdom (she was 6 1/2) “Isn’t it enough for you that I told you Jesus held my hand?” We did not do chemo because she had a complete resection of the tumor, also Chemo has never shown to have an effect on this tumor, the biggest mistake I made was not radiating her spine after brain radiation was complete. (That is the way I see it.) The neurologist suggested it and I asked why he said “Because there is a 5% chance it could come back in her spine.” I told him there is a 95% chance it won’t? It came back in her sine and spread to her brain.
    In February of 1999 her cancer was back and there was nothing they could do. We went to MD Anderson, (the worst Pediatric experience ever!) They wanted to make her a guinea pig and we chose to trust God. We did natural supplements and our 7 weeks turned into 7 months. She was paralyzed at the end of her life for 8 weeks. She would tell me when her brother and cousins were at the house “I just want to be like all the other little children.” It sucks, it hurts, and you understand just what I am saying.
    After Katharine passed I became very angry at God. I could not pray, and the stupidest things that people said to me still burn me up today. The worse was when a cousin said to me “Now you know how I felt when I lost my Mother!” Are you kidding me, my Great Aunt was 64 years old, my cousin was in her late 30’s. I knew how she felt? This was my daughter, my seven year old daughter who had been a innocent little kindergarten child, who should have been starting second grade, not laying in a casket.
    As for you God understands your pain. Scream at him, yell at him, he will still not leave you nor forsake you. Remember though that there was no evil in the world until Satan opened up the eyes of Adam and Eve. We all suffer because we live in a fallen world. Someday, it may be years from now read the book “Heaven is for Real”
    Right before Katharine relapsed we were reading Bible stories at bedtime and she said to me while looking at a picture of Christ “That is what he looked like but his hair was shorter and when he touched my hand there was this…..(pointing at the bedroom light) like that in his hands. I know that no one else in that surgical room was with out cap and gown and mask. I know Jesus was there.
    After Katharine passed we had to wait several hours (11:49 PM the time she passed) for the nurse and the funeral director to get to the home we were at. We noticed that there was an unusual illumination. We now realize that when the Angels came for Katharine they stayed with us through the night.
    Wail at God, eventually you will see that we may not understand his ways, but Gabby’s life was still full of purpose. To this day my son Matthew who was only a year younger than her strives to be a better man to make his sister proud. Gabby was your blessing, she will always be your blessing. The love she had for you and the love you had for her forever will remain in your life and heart.
    You and your family will hurt like hell, yet, someday you will all realize even though you wish this never had happened to you, (we all wish this) you have grown stronger. You are a better person for having known and loved Gabby.
    We all (parents who have fought pediatric brain tumors) need to unite and be the voice for better research.
    If you or your wife ever need a ear, call me, e-mail me. I will be praying for you both, as for right now you hurt too bad to pray.

    Thank you God for Gabby and for the gift she will always be to her family. Amen.

    Brenda Straley
    Roswell, NM

  132. I don’t even know your name, and I never met your daughter but, I am sitting here crying hysterically over your loss. I know first hand that losing a child is the most difficult thing that a person can go through…without a doubt THEE MOST DIFFICULT THING. I would LOVE to speak with you and your wife. If you would like to, please call me at: 610-384-5574 or email me at: tupperware247@aol.com Please, I would LOVE to talk to you.

  133. John,
    I have never met you, but you have Touched my Heart in so many ways. As a Parent myself I cannot even begin to Imagine the PAIN that you have gone and continue to go through. I was in Tears and my Heart was Breaking as I read your post. There is NO need to Apologize for how your feeling, not at all. I am just Amazed that through all the Heart Stabbing Pain that your feeling right now that your able to Write such a Powerful and Touching Tribute of Gabbys Life. Then to Openly Share the Details to total Strangers, just leaves me Speechless. <3 to you and your family <3

  134. John,
    Wow. Just wow. Your life is what I think of as an absolute nightmare, and I love your writings, because your feelings are real. You have every right to be angry, to hurt, and even to hate. I do not ever want to know what it truly feels like to be in this situation. You have a beautiful family, and things will never be the same, but Gabby will always be with you, somehow, some way. Your family has inspired me to live a better life. Your daughter has inspired me to love my kids even more than I already do, if that is possible. I am a mother who constantly worries. This is reality, and it happens to innocent children, and I will never, no matter what faith, understand. Our cousins’ baby was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when he was only 4 months. He passed away at 15 months. He was sick his entire short life. There is no religion, or anyone who can convince me that was in God’s plan, same in Gabby’s situation. I cannot stop thinking of you all. You and Carolynn have shown a tremendous amount of strength. You never gave up, and I know you never will. Please know you will always be in my thoughts, and I will continue to follow your writings. I am friends with Suzanne Warner, and I am so glad she “introduced” me to your family. You are all inspiring. I am so sorry for your loss. There is no doubt that Gabby was (is) a beautiful child.

  135. I don’t have children yet…I can’t imagine how it would feel if i had lost one so soon after bringing her/him into this world. My Grandmother passed away in 2006. I remember the pastor saying…”She’s in a better place.” I feel the same for her and even for myself that you do for Your little one. People say heaven is the most wonderful place…that when loved one’s die, It’s supposed make you feel like they’re having the greatest time ever. In my honest opinion i watched my grandmom in her last 2 months and in her last 2 minutes. I watched her not want to lay down and go to sleep afriad that she would die. How is that supposed to make me feel. When a woman with lots of faith doesnt want to die. I’m rambling…but to sum it up. There is no better place then right here on earth..alive and breathing. With everyone you love…even the ones you dont.

    Maybe i can give you a new perspective. Instead of just being about god and faith. Life is a system…people are born people die..even though your feeling like theres no more life left in you…just remember your other girls dont let them lose out on the best parents they can have. I’m sorry for your loss.

  136. We never met however your story and the sweet life of Gabby captured my heart… you all have been in my thoughts and prayers for months now, and I hope you know that your are surrounded by prayers, love and the goodness of people who you never met, and probably never will meet. Your angel has touched my life – thank you for sharing her with us all. My heart aches for you and I wish you peace in these most difficult of days. God bless you and your family.

  137. You get through this how ever you can. I don’t blame you a bit for how you feel. I always said the one thing that could put me over the edge is the loss of a child and now a grandchild. You sound like you all gave Gabby a wonderful life with and I know how much a child loves their precious family. Your Gabby has touched many lives and NO it’s not fair and I can’t explain why. All I can do is hope and pray time will ease your pain. Sharing her story has already helped bring awareness to a devastating disease that needs more research to find a cure, so no other children and families go through what you have been through. Again, you have the right to feel like you do. I can only offer words of support. I am truly so sorry for your loss!

  138. My thoughts, tears, heart and love go out to you and your wife and daughters. I couldn’t begin to imagine how walking in your shoes has been and still is. There is no reason a child should ever pass. I realize that there is nothing I can do to help ease the pain and hurt that you all feel. I will participate in her fundraisers though and do what I can to help. I will post this to my FB. I have a friend on my FB who has a 6 year old little girl, her name is Gabby, and she is going through this very same thing. It breaks my heart. Best wishes to you all. I hope that you may find the strength to continue on and tell Gabby’s story to the world.


  139. John, PLEASE find a way to backup that recording of Gabby saying “I love you”. Phones these days stop working at a moment’s notice and you could lose it forever. When my grandmother died I had a recording of her, and it was lost that way. I know it’s not really something you think about at a time like this, but I know you would be heartbroken if you were to lose it. Stay strong.

  140. Dear John, I am sorry for the loss of your daughter. I have been praying for her and for your whole family. I have a niece who is 9 who has been catastrophically ill for close to two years now. I know what it is like to see a child laughing and having fun one day and the next they are in ICU hooked up to everything but the coffee machine. I have not lost a child so I no way no what you are feeling. However I have come to lean on my faith and prayers through my niece’s illness. I understand your anger. The big question of WHY? We don’t know those answers. Hopefully in time, you will be able to see videos and picutres of your daughter and smile…and you will not think of the hell that she went through her final months of life. I do believe it is important to feel the pain right now and little by little let it go. Let it go so you have love to give to your other daughters. God understands your anger…He can take it…and He will be waiting when you are ready to talk. I will continue to hold all of you in my prayers. Much love and hugs.

  141. I’m so sorry. I understand your feelings completely. My son passed away from a brain tumor almost 5 years ago. I agree with everything you said. My son is not in a “better” place and everything doesn’t happen “for a reason”. What better place for our children than with their families? What reason could there be for this? All we can do is take one day at a time and try to find some peace. I wish I could tell you that it all gets easier, maybe it does, I don’t know, I haven’t found that to be true yet. I cherish the time we had with him as I know you do with your sweet Gabby. Again, I am so very sorry, there’s nothing more to say…

  142. I haven’t followed your blog for very long, and although every post has brought tears mixed with smiles and anger, nothing has touched me like this post has. Lets just say it hits close to home and leave it at that. All I can say is that the loss never gets easier, there is always going to be a memory or a moment in time that brings all these feelings back to the forefront of your mind; but as time goes on, we find new ways to cope with the loss. {{HUGS}} to you and your family John.

  143. I am so sorry for your loss… although I have never lost a child, I have lost my mom to brain cancer.. 2 months from diagnosis. Although I cannot compare my loss to yours,nor possibly ever imagine saying goodbye to my child, I understand what you had gone through.. I understand passing away at home, the body bag, the blue knees, the painful, sorrowful heart.. It has been 2 years for us, and it doesn’t get any easier, but there are times when at least for me, its nice to think that perhaps, just perhaps, the ones we love are still around.. if not in body, perhaps in spirit.. watching us, enjoying their new freedoms, their pain free lives… and smiling.. I don’t claim to know, and
    no one does until they too pass… but its these thoughts that can sometimes give comfort.. when the days are just so dark. Take care… your in our thoughts.

  144. I have a 5 yr old little girl, so your story hits so close to home and has left me sobbing more than a few times. I am completely devastated for your family’s loss of time with Gabby, and for Gabby’s loss of time with all of you. You were ALL cheated, and it’s not fair, and I am angry with you and for you. It IS hell on earth. You have every right to feel the way you do, and say how you feel. Some things in life are just so horrible that there just isn’t any explanation for how they can happen if there is a God. I do believe, but I have a hell of alot of questions. Nothing is going to comfort you at this point, but do know that one day you will smile when you think of her, instead of feeling like you’re dying inside. Gabby’s story has inspired me to really fully give myself to every moment I have with my children, as no one can promise a tomorrow. Much love to your family and your angel!!!

  145. It is hell on earth. In 1999, due to another disease so to say, we lost our daughter. Nothing anyone says or said truly helps. Just words. Sometimes it is best to say nothing, just give a hug. For God’s Sake, don’t judge us. Unless you have had a child ripped from your care on this earth – you can’t judge and if you have you know all too well – everyone grieves differently. I do promise you something – Gabby’s life and spirit live on. It takes time (and that is another cliche) we never get over it, we get through it. We get used to that hole in our lives. There are times it seems bigger and times we overlook it for a minute (not that we ever stop loving our angels).

    My heart goes out to you and your family. I know what sort of path you are walking and it is full of ruts and rocks. It is hilly and then smooth and easy but then a rut appears. You also will change forever – and mourn who you once were. Others want you to go back to that person too. Don’t.

    God has a whole lot of explaining to do when I get there. Why I will live to be 200 – he doesn’t want to face my rath of questions! And I’ve had folks tell me that I am not supposed to question him? As long as there is no justice – that things appear to be very uneven – I’m questioning him! (My opinion too! We are all entitled.)

  146. Dear John and Carolyn,
    words cannot express how you and your family are feeling. Noone has a right to judge. When my 2nd daughter was born they told me she was not going to make it through the night. In matter of fact the 1st 2 yrs were hell! She is now 16 and the most precious child! That was still enough for me..almost losing her.My life has changed since then!
    I still think every day that i am gonna lose her. I cannot imagine how you must be feeling losing your baby girl. I cannot stop crying for you. I will not judge nor do i believe anyone has the right to! Just take hold of your other children and never let go.

  147. A friend of mine referred me to your daughter’s situation. I am saddened with her departure, but am encouraged by the spiritual gifts she will bestow on her family, friends and all who pray to her. She is seated right near our Lord. Her parents and her sisters can take great pride in her loving and caring ways. Having served in Bosnia and Iraq, I have always been touched by valuable,sensitive, and caring children that I have met. Since last year, I have been diagnosed with phase 4 brain cancer/tumor and spiritually, keep faithful priorities in my daily life. I thank God for Gabby and look forward to her continued gifts to all in our Lifes!

    COL. USA

  148. Thank you, thank you for sharing although it has to be so hard. Reading your words is going to make me take a longer look at everything when it comes to my kids. I am going appreciate the good and bad times and try not to get upset or yell as much at the bad times because who knows when it can change. I’m sorry that this has affected your family.

  149. Hi John! I don’t know why something like this would happen to such a precious little girl, who did nothing to deserve it! I understand your anger towards God and that you can’t believe in Heaven right now but you need to! Otherwise, where would little Gabby be?! She is much more than flesh, blood and bones. Her soul is happy and in peace because she was so loved here on Earth. You WILL see her again and your family will be reunited. I will keep you, your wife ad your daughters in my prayers. Thank you for the wonderful message you put out in the world . It sure changed my heart about priorities and I hope t did the dame for everyone else who reads yor blog. Love, MBP

  150. I am so sorry. I can’t tell you how much your story has impacted me (and I know many others). I’m not a religious person. I believe in something bigger and I believe that Gabby is pain fee right now, but I get your anger and I am so sorry for your pain.

    We had a series of pretty horrible things occur in our family. I found a book to help me. It’s called “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”. Someday, I hope you can read it.

    I am just so sorry for your loss.

  151. …….thank you for sharing Gabby with all of us. She has made a difference to us all. She has taught us all a lesson on love, life and taking things for granted. Your piece was heartbreaking and powerful. Please keep us all in your life as you so graciously allowed us to be thus far. We will never forget ………..how can we?

  152. John, no words will bring comfort or peace, especially so soon after losing your sweet baby. My daughter passed from Rhabdomyosarcoma on Jan. 30, 2011 at 11 yrs. old (my oldest, my baby), and we are just as lost and broken as the day we last held her. You should never have to apologize for your feelings, because no one, not even I, can completely understand YOUR pain. Your daughter, your experiences with her and her cancer journey are unique to your family. You are in a whole new world, without your baby, and your thoughts and feelings may change with the rising sun, and that is all completely okay. Expect and prepare that you will hear many people tell you many things that they believe “help” you, but in reality will only make you angry and question faith and life even more so than you are doing now. Life will forever be bittersweet, but I hope you remain in the fight for your other beautiful babies. It isn’t easy. Sending you loving thoughts and hugs during this heartbreaking time.

  153. John & Carolynn

    I am so sorry.

    It’s only been 2 weeks since we lost our son, also to a brain tumor- what can I say, there are never words that are going to make a difference, change things, make you feel better. Shame on those who are passing any judgement on you right now, they have no idea what you are going through and if you are raging against God right now for taking Gabby, you have every right to be angry. It’s not fair, it’s not right . It should not have happened this way.

    My husband gave a beautiful eulogy at Joey’s funeral- I really liked the part where he said something to the effect that Joey had inspired so many of us here on earth that he needed Joey up in heaven to help inspire the angels. I’ll bet Gabby is up there doing the same. I hope that she and Joey have met up and that he’s keeping a good watchful eye on her and maybe playing some of those games that she enjoyed so much. He loved Halloween also. I am dreading it and don’t know if we should decorate to honor his memory or to do nothing this year.

    May I suggest that you join the pediatric brain tumor angels list- everyone gets it there. Please let me know if you need info on doing that and you can email me at any time.

    Ellen J
    m/o Ben, Daniel and Joey (forever 18)

  154. I purposely stay away from sites like this. Mostly because they break my heart. I am a cancer survivor myself. Melenoma. Caught so early that it seems almost a joke compared to this. I didn’t read stories about people who had my own cancer either but for some reason today randomly I came across this site and I can say with 100% certainty what you have written here has changed me. It is so authentic and real and painful and I promise you that I will never take what I have for granted again. Especially my 2 children. Thank you and I am so sorry.

  155. John , I don’t think I’ve seen you since highschool.. I have gotten to know Gabby & your family through your posts. Words cannot describe how saddened I am… I am truly sorry for your loss! I want to thank you for allowing me to be a part of Gabby’s life. Even though I never got to meet her personally , I felt close to her through your words , loving and caring for her. I am thinking of you all during this tragic time , and will continue to hold on to Gabbys memory. She is now & always was a Beautiful Little Angel! <3

  156. Wow I want to say you still have a special gift,five years of good memories. I have never lost a child and hope i don’t have to go through that. Stay strong you will see you baby again and what a GREAT day that will be.

  157. All you and your family can do, right now, is breathe.. If people get upset with you, so be it. Your heart is in pain right now, and it’s ok to be angry. I’m in pain for you, I’m angry for you, and my heart and prayers are with you all.

  158. I am so, so sorry for your loss.

    It makes me angry when people offer lame platitudes like “Everything happens for a reason” or “God needed another flower in heaven.” It’s easy for them to make those statements and feel self-righteous when they haven’t lost a child. I am sorry that in your time of grief people were selfish enough to argue with you over your thoughts and feelings. Thinking of you and your family.

  159. John,
    I can’t and don’t want to imagine what you are going through……please do not let anyone tell you how you SHOULD feel. Hold on to your family, your wife, your girls, and the wonderful memories of Gabby. Try not to beat yourself up for working to much, or I should have…..etc. You LOVE her……that was enough. There is evil in this world, I wish I could keep my children safe from it, but the reality is…..we can only do our best. Love them, and enjoy life. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  160. I hope all goes well. I don’t know you and ur family but the story has touched me. I am very sorry for your loss. I have been in ur postion about ur stance on GOD I dont understand how god can take those that you love if the bible says he loves us so much. Again i am sorry for ur loss she seems like a wonderful little girl.<3


  162. Thank you for sharing your feelings and for sharing Gabby. She taught those who have seen her story about love and family. I pray for you and your family. I agree with Anthea — keep writing.

  163. I don’t ever want to have to walk in your shoes. I can only express that my heart breaks for your family. It is upsetting to me to think that someone would tell you how you should feel or what God’s plans are. None of us know that. We do know that some day the world will end. Someday we will all be judged just hopefully not by others. I do believe that you and your wife will ultimately feel the pain of loosing your daughter always. I believe every person has a right to their own feelings and opinions. I hate when people say oh I know how you feel…really do you? Do you really know what it is like to walk in my shoes? maybe you might have a similar story but not the same. Thank you for sharing the raw side of this ugly disease and sharing the most intimate details of Gabby’s last days. However it made you feel. I will pray for peace and comfort for all of you but more so that you will always hear the echoes of her laughter and every time you think of her your heart will feel the warmth of her hugs and you will feel blessed that you got to hold a piece of heaven in your arms if only for a little while. May you celebrate her life and know that Gabby’s story has been read around the world and even if it made just one person more aware of childhood cancer it is because you took the time to share your daughter with everyone. Shame on those for faulting you. Gabby was a beautiful girl. Thank you for sharing her story.

  164. I am not sure this is the right thing to post on here, but here goes….screw those people who are trying to tell you how to feel and grieve. You and your family lost a precious child and there is no “reason for that” in my book. I too often question and wonder about why things happen and I can’t see the reasoning behind this. I am so sorry for all you and your family have gone though and I pray for you all every day. Heaven did get another angel, but damn it, you needed her here with you! hang in there and please continue to write and know that there are plenty of people out here who care about your family, even though we’ve never met you!
    Hugs to you all!

  165. I am so sorry for your loss. My heart pours out to you and your family. With tears running down my face I am typing. I have a son 19 and a daughter 5. I could not imaging losing them. I am so sorry your daughter suffered more than I could imagine. I offer this thought to you. No one truely knows God’s plan or can understand the horrible things that happen. When we watch the pain and suffering of others and people close to us we often doubt our faith and belief. You are entitled to say and type anything you feel in this greiving period no matter who it offends and no matter how long it takes for you to find your way through one day at a time. My father passed suddenly a little over 4 years ago. It took me a long time to deal with his death. He was a minister and went through surgies (which could never compare to what your 5 year old girl went through) before he passed. I offer you and your family my love and faith. I wish I could take away your pain and suffering.

  166. Hello John – I have been following Gabby’s story for a few months now. I first want to say that I am so sorry for you and your family’s loss. Secondly, I definitely do not judge you for what you said. If I were in the same position, I would feel the same way and be thinking the same things. I couldn’t imagine losing my daughter and I’m sure that if anyone who is making negative comments had to go through what you’re going through right now, their response would be COMPLETELY different. I hope that you can eventually find peace and be able to embrace all the great times you, Gabby, and the rest of your family had together. You will always have those who speak negatively but remember, you still have us, the ones who are backing you 100% and here to help you through the healing process! I love your blog posts and I am hoping you keep posting!

  167. I can’t tell you how very sorry I am for your family. Our granddaughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 8 months old. We have been blessed with a little more than a year with her but we are well aware that things can change any day. We thank God for every day she is with us.
    I pray one day you will find peace. The pain you are feeling now will ease with time.
    I hate cancer and what it does to all of the families it touches. Hopefully one day we can all celebrate that a cure has been found.

  168. Dear Vogels, I’ve met you I work at Giovannis, and I just wanted to let you know that you are all in my prayers and thoughts. No one should ever have to go through what your family has had to endure. You have every right to say, do and feel as you wish, your shoes are yours and yours alone, no one walks in the same ones. Please know that my heart hurts for you and I pray that you are given the strength that you need. With warmth and love and support, you can count on me if you need anything.

  169. God bless you and your family John. I will keep you all in my prayers. I cannot imagine the hell you are going through, and my heart aches for you, your wife and your daughters. You have a right to feel angry, and I don’t think God would be mad at you for that. I wish you strength, comfort and consolation during this extremely difficult time. I can only tell you what I believe, and that is that our loved ones who pass on are always with us, but in a plane where there is no suffering, only love and joy. God bless!

  170. My heart goes out to you and your family. Just know you did everything you possibly could. You and your family will get through this. Please stay strong for your other 2 children. You’re family & Gabby is in my heart and prayers! <3

  171. Dear John and Carolynn,

    Please accept my heartfelt sympathy for the loss of your beautiful Gabby. Although we’ve never met, my heart broke for your family as I read this blog. May time bring you peace and healing.

  172. As a mother, I can not comprehend the anguish that you and your family are feeling. As someone who has watched a love one battle brain cancer and pass, I know your pain. I wish there was a way or words to express the sorrow that is felt. And I sincerely hope that all of you can heal from what has happened. I will continue to keep you in my prayers.


  173. I wish I knew you personally. I would hug you and your wife.
    I would nod my head and agree with everything you say. I would listen to your hearts break and cry with you. As for now, I am crying here at my own house.
    I am so sorry.
    I will remember Gabby. And this post for a very long time.

  174. This just happened to catch my eye on the newsfeed. I read the entire page, the more I read, the more I cried. I am SO VERY Sorry for your loss of your little “Gabby.” All your emotions are very understandable and I will NEVER forget the facts that I’ve learned on this page and your comments have left an everlasting impression in my heart. I will pray for you and your family. And of course…think of this often. I pray that one day, there will be peace for you and yours. And now, anyone who ever reads your story will hold her in their thoughts forever. Dear Lord, Hold “Gabby” tight in your arms and please, may you give this family peace!

  175. I wish I had words that even seemed big enough to matter when it comes to what you are dealing with right now. I can’t wrap my mind around trying to make any sense at all out of this. What I can tell you … is that what you have written has total changed me. I looked at my children differently today. I listened more. I hugged them tighter. I slowed down when normally I would rush. I lingered by their beds tonight because the reality of your situation put an ache in my heart. Bless you for being to brave as to share your story. Your beautiful little Gabby will stay in my heart.

  176. We’ve never met and you don’t know me. But I wanted to leave my condolences to you and your family on your loss of little Gabby. This post brought tears to my eyes.

    God bless all of you now and in the future as you deal with this loss. My thoughts and prayers will be with all of you.

  177. I just want you to know that I feel the pain that your family feels. Take and love your family. My daughter was born prematurely and I had to choose whether or not to take her off life support. She had blood on the brain and all her bodily functions were shutting down. I held her and cried until she took her last breath. I have wished so many times for just a few months or few years.. or just another day. My daughter , 13yrs old now has found out about her should have been older sister, Elizabeth, it’s hard to explain to her how sorry I am that her older sister passed away and that’s why she doesn’t have a big sister. I cried for 5 years for a childs life that should have grown up o be strong healthy. Now I add to this my husbands untimely death. At the age of 32 I had become a widow. Death is never easy. Spring and Fall are times for me but please reach out to those that suffer as you and your family are.. If you or your family just want to vent please don’t hesitate to email. I will respond back without judging and with words of encouragement. There is hope and healing it just hurts less often but there will always be those days.

  178. I am so sorry for your loss. It is totally amazing that so many people share in your grief and post on this site who do not even know you. Your story is so sad and well stated with your true feelings being expressed. Good for you, John. What to offer at this most difficult time? One small thing comes to mind. We have a house in Bethany Beach and would like to offer a long weekend visit to you and your family. It is less than a 3 hr. drive from Phoenixville and it is soothing to sit by the sea and listen to the waves. E-mail me when and if you would like to stay at our home away from home. RIP little Gabby.

  179. I had my own Hell on Earth October 10, 1988. My heart still misses my baby girl, she’s never far from my thoughts. Is there anything I can say to make it better? Of course not. Time is the only thing that seems to dull the pain. But then I didn’t want time to go on. That only took my farther away from my baby. But you will go on to find more love, joy, and happiness again. My life is full of love, family, and friends. Gabby is a blessing to you and you all are a blessing to her.

    With much love,

  180. I read your story and I can’t stop crying. I read what you said about FB and I feel that the ones who were wrong were the ones who got angry with you. They didn’t stop to think that you are angry, hurt and lost right now and have every right to feel the way you do. Had they put themselves in your place, I’m sure that they would have said and felt the exact same way. After the hell you and your family have been through, you have every right to lash out and say what you did, but I also understand why you retracted your statement.

    I wish I had an easy answer or something to say that would make this all better, but I don’t. All I can say is be angry for as long as you need to, but don’t let it consume you. Live life for Gabby, do thw things she won’t have the opportunity to do because she is still with you, just in a different way.

    I wish for peace for you and your family.

  181. My heart breaks for you. I lost my mother after a long hard and painful battle with cancer just a year ago and I remember feeling the same way. A better place was with us watching her 1 year old grandson grow up. I couldn;t pray. I prayed every day of her life and once she was gone I could not even think about God the same way. I felt a lot of the same emotions you described about life and work. My child kept me going- a huge burden for one so small. Your girls will help you maneuver through each day. Do not let anyone judge you for how you feel. Just feel the way you do and let those around you pray for solace

  182. My heart goes out to your family for this terrible loss. I’m sorry that people put you in a position to have to justify your feelings at a time when you were literally suffering hell on earth. I’m praying for peace and comfort for your family.

  183. It is okay to be angry. It is best that you write it out as you have.

    You do have a wife and two other girls who shared this pain with you. You know what it is like to lose someone in such a terrible way… don’t lose these others in your grief.

    Love each other. Support each other. Know one another’s pain and you will help each other heal. Talk together about what you have lost. Be gentle with one another.

    A terrible thing has happened, but there is a way out of hell. And you can find it together as a family.

  184. As I sat and read “Hell on Earth” , sobbing, I prayed for you and your family. Prayed that you are able to find peace and comfort in this time of sorrow. My heart aches for you. Be strong and know that you have a lot of people keeping you in their thoughts and prayers. Gabby has touched so many!

  185. I think too often people want to, “make it better” for others. When we tell people it will be all better we don’t realize we are serving our own need to walk away feeling like we did something for another person.

    There is nothing that makes this better. THERE IS NOTHING THAT MAKES THIS BETTER.

    All we can do is be there. Melissa I am not sure your comments are helpful. Focus on the family, do you think anyone WANTS to heal? How can they even think in the mindset of healing?

    Just be there. It is not enough, it cannot be enough, in 10 years it will not have been enough. It is just what we can do, so let’s be there. Let’s just make sure this precious family knows they are not alone.

  186. IHi, I just wanted to leave a comment about the last section of your blog first I would like to say I m so extremely sorry for your loss. My comment is about your. god issue I guess we can call it I to lost a child he was 2 years old he wasn’t sick he was killed and as much as I want to say I believe in god I to have the same feelings as u I don’t understand why he would allow children any type of pain or harm or sickness its been 10 years n I still feel the same way as for the other cooment that u recanted and apologized people shouldn’t have lefft rude comments u just lost a child I will tell u I was so sick of hearing: he’s in a better place, I’m sorry, everything happppens for a rearereason I wanted to scream at all of them a better place what is a better place other then with his mother – everything happens for a reason what uexatly would that be

    • I’m sorry I’m doing this on my phone n it messed up…… but to con’t…. but what readon exactly would that what reason would my child be taken from me what exactly do they mean by that and then all the sorrys I know it is hard to talk to someone who is grieving but sometimes just a hug is betteer then sorry – sorry is something said when u are apologizing for something u did did u take away my child a hug is all they need to give when u are grieving u may say things u may not mean in anger or in any other way n normal human beings should understand that I understand gabby had supporters and if they were gabbys supporters then they were your supporters to n should have just read your post accepted it n not made nasty remarks. My heart goes out to your family I to know the feeling and how hard it is I can’t say it gets better or that you will ever get over it cuz u can’t but one day life will get easier keep your heads up I’m sure that’s what gabby would of wanted

  187. John

    I lost my youngest daughter on August 11 this year, aged 2 years 8 months. And I agree it’s hell, and I’m so angry, and my heart is broken, and my heart breaks for you and your family too

  188. I have to say I am touched by your honesty in that your willingness to communicate your level of pain can help someone else who is going through this same hell. The fact that you have shared your story will surely help another parent be honest with themselves about the way they feel, and in that honesty I see God.

  189. I had wrote a note on a previous screen about when you found out about Gabby’s condition. I told you that I could relate having a child with a medical condition. However, my heart broke as I continued and got to this page. I know what it’s like to have a child with a medical condition, but I don’t know what it’s like to lose a child. I know your angry and empty right now, and nothing I say right now can help. My prayer for you is first and foremost that you can find some amount of peace and happiness. My second prayer for you is that you grow close to the Lord’s arms. Someone had mentioned in an early post about God not promising a life without pain and grief. That is true… That’s why He promised us that he will “never leave us or forsake us.” Just reach out to him during this time of grief and he will help you in your journey to find the peace and happiness. constant prayers

  190. I am so so sorry for your loss and what you all had to go through. I am sitting here crying my eyes out because I don’t know if I would have the strength to endure all of this. But those comments you made about God was out of anger and frustration and it is only normal human behavior to feel that way! Don’t ever feel badly about that. I get mad at him sometimes too…we alll do! It’s human nature…raw emotions! We don’t understand why he does the things he does! Why he takes the good people and the bad ones are still here on this earth. We are not meant to understand that but one day we will find out his reasons.

  191. John

    I dont know were to start. Gabby and your family has touch me in so many ways. I am truly sorry for lost. i can not imagine losing a child, i look at my daughter who will be 3 on october 13. I love so much and the thought of losing her would distroy every peice of mind i have. so you have every right to feel the way you and your family do. dont every be sorry for expressing your self. My prayer are with you and your family!

  192. Dear John, Sending love and peace to you and your family. Never doubt your feelings. I believe, until you walk in someones shoes, don’t judge. No one can feel your pain, we can read your journey and weep with you, as I do. I thank you for sharing your journey. I went to a fundraiser at Giovanni’s and bought 2 tshirts, one for my daughter and one for my granddaughter. My granddaughter is 2 and sleeps in the tshirt each night. Gabby is a beautiful angel who has touched me. She will always be in my heart. I was diagnosed with cancer last year and continue treatments for maintenance. Cancer is horrible. Take one day at a time, that’s all you can do. You have a gift in writing. I would buy the book. I pray for peace for you.

  193. John,

    I wrote a blog about Declan’s journey with cancer and there were times I wanted to do what you did…no one understands until they stand in your shoes. Apart from the ugly comments, that is just inexcuseable in the face of what you, Carolyn and the girls are going and have gone through; when it comes right down to it most people are trying to help in their own way, even if it is incredibly clumsy at times. When I felt the rush of anger, the “how dare you’s” rise up in me I had to remind myself these 4 words…they don’t get it. Until you have sat over your child and watch the life drain out of them, trying to stay up (literally) for days so you don’t miss their last breath like we both have, you can’t possibly envision what it is like. I’m not telling you this to try to change your mind, only an offer of what I have done to help me get through similar times. You’re entitled to feel angry…even if I’m the only one who thinks that, I think I’ve earned the right to tell you that.

    I am so sorry about what sweet Gabby had to endure and for what you all have to endure as a family. As Stan said in his message to you last night, we are here for you. Whatever the hour…just call.

    Also, I can also tell you this…tomorrow night, the outpouring of support you will receive will be beyond your wildest imagination. We were completely floored by all the lives touched by our sweet Declan…and I know Gabby has touched even more.

    We continue to pray for you guys.

    Much love,

  194. Dear Vogel Family:

    We have never met, but I just had to express my deepest sympathy for such a painful loss. My two year old son is a cancer patient being treated at CHOP. About a month or so ago, I saw your family at the day hospital and noticed the get well gabby shirt Carolynn was wearing. It caught my attention and I began following your blog. I too was hoping for that “miracle cure” for your little Gabby. It wasn’t until my precious baby was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and an extremely rare neurological syndrome that my eyes were open to the devastation cancer can cause. I can’t say that I “understand” your pain, grief, anger or other feelings you have over this terrible tragedy, but my heart goes out to your family in this difficult time. I sincerely pray that time will ease your pain and I thank you for sharing your story so openly and honestly. It reminds me how much we all need to value each day. We just never know what lies ahead. I pray that you continue to be surrounded by love and support.

  195. John,

    First off, I want to tell you I am so sorry for your loss although I know those words don’t make it any easier. You and your family will be in my thoughts.

    I lost my mother to a brain tumor a few years ago, she was a patient at Penn and reading your story was so much like reading hers, except with a grandmom as the main subject instead of a child. Interestingly enough, she was diagnosed on 9-11-07

    I completely understand your thoughts on “God.” I feel exactly the same way. I was never a terribly religious person and now I am even less so. My mother’s idea of heaven was spending time with her family and grandchildren, taking her away from us, especially the grandchildren is just wrong. I just wanted to let you know that you are not the only one who feels this way. My opinions haven’t changed much over the past few years, I don’t know that they ever will.

    There’s not much more I can say and I am sure even this won’t really help you “feel better.” I hope as time passes, you can find some peace.


  196. Dear John and Family,

    I came upon your story just yesterday and I would like to say that I am so truly sorry for your pain and the loss of your beautiful daugher Gabby! Works cannot even begin to express how sad I was for you as I read your story. I was a little taken back at the fact that some people chose to judge you for your feelings toward this god-awful experience that you and your family endured. I am the cousin of a 6 year old beautiful spunky red head who was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in May of 2008. I remember that day as if it happened yesterday. I remember my sadness and how my heart felt that this child, my cousin had to endure the wrath of this horrible disease. Of course, I immediately turned to “how could this happen to her, why did God allow this to happen to her and at what point in life is it fair for a child to have cancer? Now with all that being said, I know how my heart felt and the countless tears that were shed – I could never imagine the pain my cousins felt….their indescrible amount of pain. I feel and truly believe that it is your right to question the unfairness of this disease and question how God could let this happen to your daughter. Until anyone ever walks in your shoes, they should leave their beliefs out of it. I turned to prayer, as well as the thousands of people that prayed for my cousin and I do believe she benefited from it but I also know that it is only natural for you to feel the way you do. I will continue to pray for you and your family and hope that one day, you may find God in your heart again.

  197. I just read your page and through tears I’m sending you my prayers.

    I also lost my little girl in November 2000. She passed at CHOP after a 17-month battle with cancer. I’ve been through all the grief stages.

    If you ever want to vent or just “chat” feel free to email me. I can not take your pain away, but I think it is good to know that you are NOT alone, though it most definitely feels as if you are. Reading this blog, I could relate to so much. Even though almost 11 years have passed for me, not a moment goes by I am not thinking of my angel. I remember the feeling of pain, anger, guilt…having the bills piled high….I remember it all!

    I will keep you all and your precious little angel in my prayers. Feel free to email me if you ever just want to vent or ask questions. I honestly mean that!

    Jenn Phelan

  198. If anything, your daughter was born into a loving family. Don’t let anyone make you feel wrong for your emotions or the way you grieve.
    My father died only 2 months ago at the age of 50. I have his voice mails saved so that I can still hear him saying he loves me, too. I’m an atheist, so even though I don’t believe in an afterlife, I still take a strange comfort in knowing that when I die, I will share the same fate as my loved ones.

  199. Very sorry. This motivates me to be the most loving and caring and giving father that I can be to my daughter.

  200. My heart aches, as a mom, i cant even imagine the pain you are feeling. Prayers for strength to get through this horrible time… YOU DONT NEED TO PRAY your family has others who will pray for you… Stay angry with God!! He understands your anger and you have every right in the world to be angry with Him!! Wishing for peace and happiness when the time is right and you are all ready for it.

    • Wow, so well said!! My prayers are so strong for this family. Your comments about God are so spot on. This family needs to grieve the way THEY can, none of us should EVER judge someone else. Especially after the horror Gabby’s family has endured.

  201. There are no words. Thank you for sharing your daughter with us. I only heard about her passing today on facebook. I will keep you in my thoughts.

    As for the Wish Trip, I have heard of families going even after a child has passed. You might want to touch base with your Wish Coordinator to find out.

  202. As others have echoed here before me, your pain has changed me. I I’m so sorry your family has had to endure this, that any family should have to endure the loss of a child…until anyone has walked even an inch in your shoes they cannot imagine your pain. I don’t know what I believe but I hope the universe/higher powers give you healing. Somehow. Someday.

  203. Words cannot express my sorrow for your family and the pain all of you are suffering. I do not judge what you say, you need to grieve and you need your heart to be heard. Whatever gets you through each day. I will continue to pray for your family and for your sweet, little angel, Gabby. I know two wonderful children that have earned their angel wings and I am positive they are with your daughter, holding her hand every step of the way.

  204. John, my heart cries for you and your family. Don’t take what these people say to heart, your heart is broken and of course you are angry and of course you lash out. Anyone who does not understand is a grade A #1 a**hole. GOD Bless you and your family and give you peace and strength I will continue to pray for you all.

  205. Shame on the people who would ever judge a family whose hearts are breaking and family is crushed with the loss of their baby. I’m do sorry that other people added to your pain. Till someone walks in your shoes and endures the he’ll that you have, compassion is the only thing that should be given. My heart and prayers go out to your family. I do pray that as you endure your journey through grief, you will find a place of peace, comfort and unending strength as you continue to guide and take care of your family. May the sun shine again in your hearts as you wait to be reunited with your sweet baby girl.

  206. Undeniably believe that that you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the web the easiest thing to bear in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while folks think about worries that they plainly do not recognize about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and also outlined out the whole thing with no need side-effects , other folks can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thank you

  207. Beautifully written. My heart goes out to you and your family. It probably will never get better but just remember Gabby is not suffering anymore.

  208. hi,

    i saw your daughter’s pic on the nyt and was led to this website from the caption. what a beautiful, beautiful girl gabby is. i have cried all over this website reading your words and seeing your pictures of your gorgeous family.

    i agree with someone who wrote above that this is likely the worst thing that someone can go through as a parent, and perhaps as a human, to lose your own child. i don’t know if it will bring you any peace, but for what it may be worth i will share my family’s story. many years ago we suddenly lost my sister in a tragic, very unexpected accident. this irrevocably changed the trajectory of our lives and my parents rarely speak of the enormous pain that we all went through after her death (i was very little at the time, and my sister was just a few years older). i think if we were going through that same period today we would have considered hospitalizing my mother because she became, in her words, catatonic and useless. it was a terrible time.

    however, today we are a happy family. my parents have good memories and talking about my sister brings a smile to their faces. they no longer remember her in a mournful or regretful way, though i think they did for a long time. they talk of her now like she was a gift they were lucky to have in their lives instead of something precious stolen from them. (my mom tells me that she initially did hate god for awhile, did all the forbidden rituals one is not supposed to do when there is a death in the family, and demanded from god that if he had any guts he would bring my sister back). Of course my mom still misses her, certain activities remind her of my sister, and i know she crosses my mom’s mind at least daily. but no longer do these thoughts disturb my mom.

    i’m not sure what finally did it, my parents are spiritual people and i think ultimately they did draw strength from our faith. my brothers, however, were not and i think for them time healed, though i can ask them if you want me to. they were definitely, as i hope you are, surrounded by close friends and community. though i was only a few years behind my sister, i grew up in a happy family. not really recovered, nothing was ever quite as it was before, but in a “new normal” that we learned to grow comfortable with and even find happiness within.

    i hope my words have not hurt you in any way. i guess i wanted to give you a little hope that its possible to get to the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. keep writing, don’t apologize for your thoughts. be kind to yourselves. i wish you and your family all the best wishes and love that a stranger can give.

  209. Its such as you read my thoughts! You seem to know a lot approximately this, like you wrote the guide in it or something. I think that you simply could do with a few percent to drive the message house a little bit, however instead of that, this is wonderful blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

  210. I am not good with words, but will try to tell you how I feel. I have only read your blog up to this point, but I am relieved to see you post your true feelingings, instead of she is in a better place ect. You show true emotion and you are not afraid to say it. I can relate with my dad, I took care of him for 11 days while he was on hospice and I saw what you saw with Gabby, it is heartbreaking to watch your parent go thru this, but a child, I cannot relate. You have every right to post what you have posted, most blogs I read are upbeat and hide true feelings, yours is how life is, the drinking (I did that, but quit like you and your wife did, that is awesome), this is how some people dealwith a loss , it is numbing yourself to hide the pain. The missing, the everyday rememberances of your child, I could not even imagine it. Because of you, I hug my kids more and appreciate them more. Your little girl was so beautiful! Stay true to your feelings, no BS. I have you and your family in my thoughts and prayers everyday.