Liza Burke breathed her last breath and fell asleep, her hand securely gripped by her brother, who slept on the bed next to her. She would not wake up again.
The globe has been following Liza’s tale, a stunning 21-year-old University of Georgia senior who organized a last pre-graduation spring break vacation to Cabo for 53 pals. She developed a cerebral hemorrhage while there, however, and was subsequently identified with an aggressive malignant brain tumor. It was her last journey.
Her mom, Laura McKeithen, reported that when she died on April 28, “her brother slept on the sofa and held her hand all night. She took her last breath while Jack held her hand.”
Liza’s mom, who describes her as someone who “lived it big” and is extremely genuine and unapologetically herself, provides this advice: “Don’t waste time worrying about stupid stuff. Simply go for it.”
Liza, an adventurous spirit who motivated her to tour the globe, lived by this idea.
Liza texted her mother images of herself performing handstands on the beach, boating, and cliff diving while on vacation in Cabo. On her final night, the group gathered around a beach campfire and sang and shared tales. She left breakfast early the following morning after a workout with her lover, claiming she had a blinding headache. She went to her room for a nap and was discovered hours later, unconscious in bed.
Liza developed a brain bleed, and doctors in Mexico amputated part of her skull to halt the bleeding, fearing a ruptured arteriovenoum malformation (AVM). Liza’s mother quickly went to her side and returned her to her native state of Florida, where she took her to the Mayo Clinic. Doctors at the hospital ruled out an AVM and revealed she had a malignant, aggressive brainstem tumor.
Laura recalled Liza ripping the ventilator from her mouth when she first awoke from anesthesia, saying that they were worried she wouldn’t breathe on her own, but obviously she was fine.
Liza found it hard to sleep because the tumor was pressuring the area of her brain that kept her awake.
When she was awake, she was talking a little bit, and she was interacting by squeezing her hand or wiggling her toes, said her mother. The mom questioned whether Liza is sacred? She’d been asking Liza other things, and when she inquired whether she was afraid, she didn’t grip her hand.
Liza’s family and friends enjoyed a few more days with her before she began what was intended to be six weeks of daily radiotherapy.
She was squatting, riding her bike, and attempting to walk. However, physicians discovered a fresh hemorrhage on her brain a few days later.
Liza’s mom did not want her daughter to be intubated again, which prompted discussions with her medical staff.
Laura pondered whether Liza’s migraines in her freshman year were early indicators of the brain tumor, and if they had detected it sooner, would her daughter be okay?
Laura sought to find a location where she felt her daughter would be happy when the family found that treatment was failing and hospice care was indicated.
She’d want to be somewhere beautiful, where she could celebrate with her friends and family, and she could be outside and enjoy the beach or the mountains, her mom recalls thinking.
Laura selected a seaside Airbnb, confirmed with the owners that it could be used for hospice care, and hired it for a month. Liza and her immediate family moved there on April 19, and friends and grandparents stopped by often.
Liza was conscious at the time, but she couldn’t talk. Laura described her daughter’s communication as a little movement with her mouth or her eyelids, but she would wiggle her toes.
On April 27, everyone gathered to see Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain, Liza’s favourite film.
After the movie, Laura walked to her room and stated that she knew if she was with her, she would possibly drive her crazy, staring at her and squeezing her hand and squeezing her toes and kissing her.
Liza died at 2 a.m. Friday while sleeping next to her brother Jack.
Liza exhaled one last time, sighed, and crossed over into the next realm. Liza has now been reunited with her sister, and they are making up for lost time! Laura said. Liza’s older sister Edie died in 2008 from MPS1, a rare genetic illness.
Laura wrote in her online blog, which was filled with painful reflections that if she could, she would hang onto Liza and follow her.
Laura received a letter written by Liza to her future self in the mail on May 2, a class assignment from Liza’s final year of high school. Her instructor agreed to send the letters to the pupils when they graduated from college. Liza’s graduation date would have been May 12, 2023.
It was breathtaking. It was all her, Laura said, adding that she would read parts from her memoir during her burial service.
Liza was cremated, and Laura intends to spread her ashes in the mountains, as well as maybe in Mexico.
Laura remembered her daughter as a bold, daring, adventurous, and joyous young lady, saying, that tumour took her life, but it didn’t slow her down. She experienced life.
Her legacy is to live every day to the fullest. What she desire people to know is that she lived her life to the fullest. She hope she could do her life as well as she has done hers.
Her mother is requesting donations to The Liza and Edie Burke Education Fund in order to honour two sisters and the genuine, dynamic, playful, and fierce way they gave back to the world.
Eliza (Liza) Grace Burke arrived right on schedule on July 10, 2001 and wasted no time living life to the fullest. She…Posted by Laura McKeithen on Sunday, 30 April 2023
Liza’s death is terrible! She was so young and had such a bright future ahead of her. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time, particularly Laura, who just lost her second daughter.