KARA: "When you were younger, you worked for your father tell us about that, what valuable lessons did you learn, and how did that experience help to mold you into the person you are now?"
KENDRA: "When I was 10 years old my father would have us run the blue prints at his architectural business. Then when I was fourteen and my sister, Jan, was thirteen, we began learning architectural drafting at our father's office. (Jan went on to become an architect and was the Project Architect for the Boise, Idaho Capitol Building restoration). Sometimes when there was a very important job that had to be completed by a deadline we would also work on Saturdays, and late into the night, but not Sundays. My mother also worked at the office and was excellent in running the business aspects of my father's architectural firm. She also taught her five daughters how to cook and sew and to love the wonderful world around us. I saw my parents persevere through good times and difficult times but they never gave up and always helped others, whether it was "feast or famine." All who entered my parents' home were welcome there. Following their example, we try to make others feel welcome in own home."
KARA: "Can you talk about some of the trials you've had? Tell us about lessons learned, how you were able to overcome, what one thing was most important in helping you get through trials?"
KENDRA: "When I speak to people about trials, it usually includes our experience having twin daughters. Sarah was born healthy, but Rachel had hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Rachel never could walk, talk or even eat. She was given anti-seizure medicine and fed six times a day through a feeding tube into her stomach every three hours during the day at 7am., 10am., 1pm., 4pm., 7pm., and 10pm. At one point Sarah (the healthier twin) had to also be on heart and respiration monitors. During the twin's first three years my husband, Dave, would come home from work, eat and try to get to sleep as early as possible so that he could take care of the twins at 2am. and I could go to sleep. I would wake up when he would go to work and take the "shift" until 2am. the next night when we would trade. It was unusual to get more than 4 hours of sleep at any given time. Rachel had many surgeries, seizures and ambulance emergencies. She also was taken by helicopter when her oxygen dropped below 50%.
During these difficult times, art and music became my refuge. I composed a series of songs that musically describe what we went though during this time. Some of the titles include: " The Gift of Life"," Complications", "Waiting", "On the Edge", "Hope","Compassionate Hearts",and "A New Dawn" My husband put the music on a web site for me (http://kendraburton.com/kendra burton expressions healing.htm). When Rachel was nine years old she died from complications of her illness. The eulogy that my husband gave at her funeral is also on my web site (http://kendraburton.com/kendra burton article value of a life.htm).
Because of Rachel we learned many things about life, ourselves, and friendship. We have been told that the statistics of divorce of spouses that have a severely handicapped child or one who dies is 90%. It is very difficult but we could not have learned what we have about ourselves and others in any other way. We shared our story as panelists about grief and loss on the KBYU program "Living Essentials" that they continue to broadcast about twice a year. We now have a deeper understanding about compassion, service, love, acceptance, and gratitude."