Dying dad has beautiful 'last dance' with daughters
For 42-year-old Charlie Kwentus, diagnosed with a brain tumor, his biggest regret is that he won't get to watch his two young daughters, ages 9 and 13, walk down the aisle. Now that Kwentus has decided to stop treatment and nears the end of his life, his daughters, with the help of a charity, put together a special father-daughter dance to commemorate all the events their dad is going to miss.
Kwentus of Webster Groves, Missouri, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, called Oligodendroglioma, several years ago. Kwentus' particular type of brain tumor affects the frontal, temporal or parietal lobes and can often cause seizures. After undergoing years of scans and surgeries, the devoted dad recently chose to cease treatment so that he could enjoy the end of his life, as he explained to KSDK.
Kwentus said, "And I just decided and my family backed me on it that it was time to quit. You know, quality versus quantity."
Kwentus' "live in the moment" attitude inspired his entire family. He, along with his wife, Courtney Beers, and two daughters, Maren and Zoe, hit the road for a three-week vacation in the Western United States.
Beers said, "I feel like we're building a bank of memories that will last a lifetime. They have to last a lifetime."
Specifically, some of the most important moments Kwentus will miss are the milestones in his daughters' lives, like graduations, proms and weddings. When the family returned from vacation, Annie's Hope Bereavement Center for Kids, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping kids heal, was standing by to work with the girls to create a real-life scrapbook moment for just this reason.
On the day of the father-daughter dance, the girls went to a salon for an all-star beauty treatment and then dressed to the nines. Kwentus wore his tuxedo and met them in the limousine. Before heading to the Westborough Country Club, Kwentus and his daughters stopped to take pre-dance photos. After the photo shoot, dinner awaited at the country club, followed by a private father-daughter dance.
Kwentus said it was like a dream. One special night can't take away the tragedy that looms ahead for this family, but preserving these memories and preparing for the loss may help to soften the blow for these young girls. As Kwentus said, "We always talk about keeping me in their hearts. I am going to live on in their hearts."
For the rest of us parents wiping away tears as we read this heartbreaking story, it proves that every parenting cliché we have ever heard is true: Life is short. Kids grow up too fast. You only get this time once, so enjoy it while you can.
The way Kwentus has faced the end of his life can inspire us to keep things in perspective: Every moment is precious, and what matters most are the memories that we leave our kids.