SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -- They are heartbroken. They've always known this day would come, yet it has still taken everybody by surprise. Nine-year-old Kathleen Edward took a turn for the worse a couple of days ago, but she was peaceful and smiling to the very end.
"She was an angel and she did bring a lot of joy and happiness to everybody," said Rebecca Rose.
She was by her granddaughter's side as Kathleen passed away peacefully Wednesday night at her home surrounded by family and friends.
"We whispered in her ear and told her, 'Go be with your mommy," Rose explained. "She really did have this glow about her. She really looked like an angel laying there, and she opened her eyes and took her last breath."
Kathleen had Huntington's, a degenerative brain disease that also took the life of her mother and grandfather.
We first met Kathleen in 2010 when she was the victim of cruel taunts on Facebook. Her grandmother's neighbor, Jennifer Petkov, posted a picture of Kathleen with a skull and crossbones and a photo of her mother, Laura, in the arms of the Grim Reaper.
When confronted, Petkov was far from apologetic.
The story went viral and the family was flooded with support for Kathleen. There was a trip to a toy store fit for a princess, a visit from the Detroit Tigers' mascot and a huge festival to raise awareness about Huntington's disease organized by family friend Michelle Yerigian.
"Kathleen taught us about Huntington's disease, and with everything that the family went through, I think that her legacy would be of hope. Our hearts are all broken, but we also know that she's not suffering anymore," she said. "I think that Kathleen made us all better people."
Facebook, once a forum for a bully and then a site for support, is now full of sympathy and condolences for a family whose little angel is now in heaven.
"Now she's with her mother. That's the only consolation in this whole thing is now she's with her mother," said Rose.
Rebecca Rose and Kathleen's father and stepmother want to thank everyone who has supported them through this ordeal. They're grateful that in Kathleen's short life, she taught so many people compassion and kindness.
Visitation for Kathleen Edward will be held Friday at the Michigan Memorial Funeral Home in Flat Rock.
Funeral services will begin at noon Saturday at Michigan Memorial followed by a funeral procession to Mt. Hope Cemetery in Livonia where Kathleen will be buried next to her mother.
If you would like to make a donation or send flowers, contact the funeral home.
You can also make a donation to the Michigan chapter of the Huntington's Disease Society of America. Their website is hdsa-mi.org.
Use the links below to view Past Kathleen Edward & Jennifer Petkov stories. Plus, leave your condolences in our Facebook commenting tool as well.
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