Katrina survivor experiences more heartache - CBS46 News

Katrina survivor experiences more heartache with daughter's cancer

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

Hardy Jackson and his family experiences more heartache. Jackson lost his wife to the storm surge during Hurricane Katrina. His personal tragedy and the loss his family experienced is one that has stayed with many people.

Six years after losing his wife, Jackson will now have to bury his oldest daughter. Mary was diagnosed with cancer. It's spread to her entire body. She has been moved to hospice and her days are numbered.

Reporter Jennifer Mayerle met Jackson while she was covering the storm, and has stayed in touch with the family. They now live in Palmetto.

"It seems it's all I do now is cry, for the last six years," said Jackson.

Jackson has barely moved past the heartache of losing his wife Tonie during Hurricane Katrina.

"It was hard getting over one person missing from the dinner table. Now it's going to be two," said Jackson.

Mary took over many of the "mom" duties after her mom was lost to the storm surge.

"Really just started her life, 31-years-old," said Jackson.

Last year, Mary was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

"The cancer had spread everywhere, all through her bones. It's hard to just see your kids fade away in front of your face, you know. It hurts," said Jackson.

Mary has two kids of her own. Chris, 15, and Deion, 14. They were with Jackson when Mayerle met him on the streets of Biloxi, Miss., just hours after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, hours after his wife slipped from his grasp.

"We were up on the roof, all the way in the roof. And the water came in, and the house just opened up, divided. I held her hand tight as I could, and she told me, ‘You can't hold me,' she said, `take care of the kids and the grandkids,'" said Jackson to Mayerle in 2005.

Jackson's been keeping that promise to his wife, and now he'll keep the same promise to his daughter, to take care of her kids, his grandkids.

"I've tried to get them prepared for the pains they're going to carry for the rest of their life. I'm going to do my best to raise them," said Jackson.

Losing Mary is almost more pain than Jackson can bear.

"All I can do is ask God to give me strength to carry on," said Jackson.

His wife's body has still not been recovered. His hope now is to have a place to bury his daughter.

"We'd have somewhere to go and visit. Just like it's both of them there, Mary and my wife," said Jackson.

Jackson doesn't have a grave site or place to visit his wife. Mary's kids may have to grieve for their mother the same way Jackson does for his wife.

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