Dear precious Kylie,
I have thought for weeks about what to say to you, in fact I’ve said most of it to you already since I talk to you all the time. The written word has always held a huge place in my life. My career has been words. But ever since you got sick they have all dried up inside me. It’s as if the agony has just been too much, and I haven’t really wanted to write it down to stare back at me in the hard reality of black and white.
But here I sit, in a quiet room, without your voice drifting to me from some other part of the house. Without your smile lighting up the room. Without your head nestled on my shoulder. Without your laughter lifting my spirits. Without your hand grasping mine. And even without words it is all too real.
I can still feel your hand in mine. Sometimes when I am walking I even reach back for your hand. Often in a store I will stop to look at something I think you will like before it hits me all over again. I cried in the aisle of Target the first time I bought pretzels that you wouldn’t eat.
Your friends are getting bigger and looking older. I love seeing them and getting hugs and hearing about what they are doing. But it breaks my heart a little to see them change and wonder what you would look like now. To think about all the things you should be doing with them. I never take a single breath without thinking of you.
I was supposed to be the mommy, Kylie. The one who taught you. But instead, you taught me – about determination, compassion, selflessness, joy, humility, kindness, and friendship (the real kind that costs something to give). You were the first person to reach out to someone who needed a friend. You accepted the lead and the ensemble role with equal grace and gratitude. You followed every rule, did your best on every assignment, brought peace and joy to our home, and lit up every space you entered. And then cancer hit. Then we saw a depth of character in you that defied description. You didn’t complain. You didn’t get mad at God. You smiled through unimaginable pain. You longed to help other kids suffering like you. You loved us fiercely and battled for every second to spend with us. You are the bravest person I ever met. You are my hero. When I grow up, I want to have as strong a faith and love as well as you did.
I’ve thought a lot about when you were a baby. Most moms are happy when their babies start sleeping through the night. But I loved getting up to feed you. It was the only time I got to snuggle you and love on you with no interruptions. I’m thankful for every moment in the rocking chair, every single hymn, every single kiss on your cheek.
I loved every single thing about being your mommy, and now that you are no longer here, I sometimes feel like I have forgotten how to live. We spent every single second of those last 10 months together. And I still haven’t gotten used to being alone again. I miss reading books together, cuddling, knitting – I finished Noah’s blanket for you. It isn’t as good as it would have been if you had done it, but he and Lindsay approve. And I tell him often how much you already loved him. I don’t know what I would do without videos. Some days I don’t think I could survive without hearing your voice and your laugh. Uncle Cary copied lots of our videos for us and we have a bunch of you when you were little. You would have loved watching them with your sisters and me. Every now and then someone sends us a picture we have never seen before. I love that. Each one is a precious gift.
Mostly, I want you to know that you are still as much a vital part of our family as you ever were. You are with us at every meal, in every smile, in every hug. When you continuously found joy in being with the ones you loved even in the worst of times, you didn’t realize you were teaching us how to keep going without you. But that is exactly what you were doing. I miss you every single second of every day, but I am savoring each moment with your sisters and Daddy and hugging them tightly for you. You would be so proud of them all. They are loving each other well, taking care of me and continuing to fight this childhood cancer beast on your behalf, but I can see how much they miss you in their eyes.
I am taking good care of Liza, too (Daddy and your sisters tease me that I spoil her rotten), but really she is the one taking care of me. She cuddles with me all the time, and I know it is because you wanted her to. You would have loved watching her grow up. Oh, how I would have loved watching you grow up.
But someday we will be together again. I wouldn’t be able to stand it if I didn’t know that for certain. While I would have given anything to write this story differently and I honestly can’t fathom why God chose to write it this way, I am overcome with gratitude for His gift of redemption and that most glorious promise of forever. Right now it feels like it’s been forever without you and it will be forever until I see you again. But the truth is that FOREVER is how long we will be together. So save me an eternal supply of those brilliant smiles and amazing hugs.
I will love you forever and always,