Honored Kid

Katy James

Katy James Kid Photo


Greenville, SC, US


Brain or spinal cord tumor

Date of Diagnosis

June 2011



Treated At

Children's Hospital Greenville System

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My Story

GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - An Upstate teenage girl whose personal struggle touched the hearts of thousands has passed away. Judith Katherine "Katy" James, 17, lost her battle with an inoperable brain tumor Friday. James was diagnosed Pontine Glioma in June of 2011. She was a gifted musician and an active member of the Carolina Youth Symphony as well as the Christ Church Episcopal School Orchestra and Band, where she played the violin and flute respectively, attaining region status in each. FOX Carolina's Greg Funderburg spent some times with James in July, when she was crowned queen for the day at her Greenville church. James was treated to a day of royal attention when she was named "Queen of Bible School 2012" at Salem United Methodist Church, not long after receiving news that she only had about six weeks to live. Despite her diagnosis, Katy got the royal treatment with a crown, sash, roses and special messages from several title holders in South Carolina including Miss Fountain Inn and Miss Lyman. James was an honor student at Christ Church and was entering her senior year as an IB Candidate and had already been accepted to Tulane University, where she hoped to study biology starting next fall. By Michael Cogdill August 1, 2012 Standing In a Downpour of Living at Peace Another soul graced mine yesterday. She gave of her precious life to me. I am far better for it. Katy is 16. Doctors can’t stop the tumor in her brain. She will die, soon, and she knows it. Yet even from a wheelchair, she stands in a downpour of living well. I interviewed Katy for just a few minutes. She faced the TV camera and this reporter as a tower of fortitude cloaked in the sweetest humility. And in our short time together, she reminded me of some truths about life and how most of us veer from the path of how it ought to get done. Her heartbroken yet stalwart father had just told me Katy is blessed to know how much time she has left, and can choose how to live. To both, I owe the following learning. I share it, having felt it, deeply. Here, I feel it out loud onto this page and, I hope, indelibly onto your spirit. First, most of us wring our hands way too much, worrying about what amounts to nothing. Our sleepless imagination of the worst is utter waste. It squanders our power to imagine — and live — life as it should be. We live as though we have a mortal eternity in front of us in these fleshy little armors that carry us around. We do not. Seems obvious, but we don’t live it that way. We live as though we’re stuck here forever and, thus, must control everything, NOW, postponing joy and goodness in the name of having everything under our control. It’s folly. The dying seem to know this. Their wisdom is clear to me now. Yes, we are finite on this ball hurling together through the universe. We cannot escape this, or the truth we were born to live in community, at some fine peace with one another. Our petty battles, our fears, that worrying — they all shorten our good time on earth. They cheat us out of living. They cheat us out of one another. The dying love powerfully. They busy their hearts at it. They tend not to waste a breath on gossip or railing. They just might get angry with God. I believe God is more than all right with this. Such anger is a great conversation starter. Indifference, not anger, is the opposite of love. Katy and God have found a delicious peace with one another. She speaks of God in terms of reality, of belief, nearness, intimacy, not in the codes of false righteousness. Things between Katy and God are way more than all right. Her entire being thrums with such peace. She makes clear she wants all of us to know it. Know it now. Live as though everything is more than all right. We take our time for granted. It comes flying out of the heavens at us – a gift that’s all ours. We can’t lend it, nor can we save it, really. It keeps coming at us, calling to us to spend it, and spend it well. Yet we, in a squandering habit, try to hoard it, stow it up for some elusive time that’s better than this. We can make our current time better than it is, simply by choosing to live better, with more fall-back joy and full-throttle generosity, than we have. It gets no better than living life as we are called to dream it. As we would like it lived toward us. We give life — and the giver of life – too little credit for giving us choices. We choose what occupies our minds, our tongues. Misery is often a state of our own making. Inner joy our option, in waiting. Thank you, Katy, for teaching this to me. For teaching me to embrace joy and shed so much of the rest. Yours is a life being VERY well spent. May your last days of it overflow with the peace you have gently rained into the world, and onto me. I am blessed to have crossed your path, and your dad’s, and to share in the warm downpour of how you have chosen to live. How you have chosen to fit your soul into this world. A soul most beautifully outfitted for our here and now, and the world to come.

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