At first, it had puzzled the doctors treating her. Why should this young girl be coughing up blood, her small frame wracked with shudders for hours at a time, when everyone around her was perfectly fine? She'd certainly traveled abroad before, but not recently, and there was no reason for her to become so suddenly, so violently, ill.
The first news broadcast hit a day later, and Katherine's suffering only increased with the knowledge that it would likely not be long before her entire family and those kind doctors all succumbed to the same wasting illness.
Sometimes, she hated being right.
Her father, her beloved Daddy, was the first to lose his battle, doubtless helped along by the guilty knowledge that he had brought the disease into his own household. Katherine's mother, the sweet and lovely woman that hardly seemed to age was brought down by the coughing fits, and lost the radiance in death that so seemed to cling to her in life.
As terrible, as awful and heart-wrenching as this was, Katherine reassured herself that at least her sister, Elizabeth, would survive. Liz was strong, she was vivacious, she was beautiful. Everything that Katherine knew she wasn't. So it wasn't until Liz was wheeled into Katherine's room to say goodbye that the youngest member of the Wilson family broke.
"Kit," Liz whispered hoarsely, reaching to grasp her sibling's hand, "you're still alive. You're going to make it." Her tone was happy, but something in it was resigned as well. Kit sensed this, and panicked.
"No, Liz, don't say that! You'll live, we both will! We have to! You... you can't... you can't leave me. Not... please not you, too...." Kit's protests soon dissolved into sobs; what room was there for hope when everything she knew and loved was falling apart around her?
"Kit, listen to me," Liz implored, and her ever-dutiful sister obeyed. "You are strong. Stronger than you think. You have to live, for all of us. I know you never thought you were good enough at anything, but I want you to know that I am more proud of you than I've ever been of anything in the world. Mom and Dad were proud too. Promise me that you'll live, and keep on going. I want you to promise that every year, on this day, you'll play that song for me, the one you wrote for my birthday."
"Liz..." Kit protested weakly.
"Promise me, Kit." her sister's tone, soft as it was, brooked no argument.
"I promise." There was one last squeeze on her hand, and then Liz went limp, and Kit dissolved into tears.
It was only when she woke from a grief-induced coma a few months later, that she was to discover one more curse, and one blessing. The disease had robbed her of her sight, but it had spared her family's butler, Norman, who kit had always regarded as a grandfather. Not all was lost. But... Promise me, Kit.
I promise. I'll live... for all of us.