I Didn’t Recognize Her

“Hello, Mr. Myers,” she said with a beautiful smile.

Startled, I replied in kind. She stood before me in anticipation while I watched the sun peak through her golden hair. Searching for something to say, I told her that I liked her dress.

“Thank you. When we went to the store, I made sure it had some yellow in it,” she beamed as she twirled slightly to let the flow of the dress boast its color.

“Kylie would love that,” I answered.

“I thought so, too. Well, I’ll see you later,” she said as she bounded off toward her friends.

I watched her rush off until she was engulfed in a sea of young women all flaunting perfectly-styled hair, manicured nails, and the prettiest dresses their closets could produce. The boys – awkward in their ties – stood off to the side bucking horns, pretending not to be fascinated with their more delicate classmates. At fourteen, I could see the beginnings of the magnetic pull that they would deny as long as possible then succumb to as if they ever had a choice.

I watched the group laugh and tussle beside the still pond until called inside by someone in charge. As they moved, I stood transfixed on the scene of this place and these children. It was so natural and right, yet a weight deep inside of me told me something was missing.

My golden-haired friend waved at me and beckoned me to follow.

“You comin’?” she called (In the South we tend to be forgiving of the lack of a closing “G” – especially when it rolls through the pouty lips of a pretty girl).

I raised my arm. “Yes, I’m coming.”

I needed to go in. After all, I was soon to be called to the podium to speak. I was there during this graduation week to thank her friends for how well they loved Kylie during her sickness. I should be in my seat waiting for my cue. But I couldn’t bring myself to budge. My mind reeled and my feet were frozen to the promenade beneath me because I had no idea who she was.

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I should have known her instantly. She was one of Kylie’s classmates and a friend since the first grade. There was a glint of recognition. I’m sure she had been in my car on field trips and in the classroom when I taught enrichment days. I knew she had been to my house for birthday parties. Still, her name escaped me – a fact that rocked me to my core. It means I’m forgetting.

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It is amazing what a couple of years does at that age. While Kylie is frozen at twelve, the rest of her friends have blossomed to fourteen and are all a head taller since I last saw them.

I will never know what Kylie would have looked like at this age. Cancer stole those years from us. It stole height, growth, maturity. It mercilessly took graduation, blessing dinner, a celebratory leap into the murky pond, and a rising high-schooler with an unlimited future. Cancer is a ravenous thief.

And now I wonder, what else will it steal? She is relegated to pictures, videos, and memories. Will it steal those? I am now forty-eight and she lived only a quarter of my life. There are swaths of my past that are but faint glimpses buried in the deep recesses of my feeble mind. Please! I beg! Let me remember her. Don’t let me forget the sparkle of her eye or the titter of her giggle. Let me hear her voice clearly until I hear nothing at all.

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I feel like a victim held at gunpoint, only I’m not begging for my life – you can have that. Just please don’t take her out of my head. I want to savor each morsel. I want to remember her – every bit of her. I don’t want to forget a thing.

Aging is a tragic cruelty and memory loss is part and parcel to it. But I fear this isn’t loss. No, I feel like my insatiable enemy isn’t done with me and is taking more piece by piece. Hasn’t this thief stolen enough? Please, leave me the little I have. Don’t wipe her from my mind.

Yet I have forgotten the delicate face of her friend and I am utterly terrified of what cancer will steal next…

 

 

**Photo credits – 4:8 Photography by Tiffany Godfrey & Cindi Fortmann Photography

 

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31 thoughts on “I Didn’t Recognize Her

  1. Broke my heart Mark. I hear you buddy. I was at the cemetery the other day. I look at her picture on the headstone. I want to let go then I want to remember. Then I am reminded there are no more memories of Kelly. Folks want me to view videos of her but I still cannot bare to look and hear. Sometimes I feel all alone in my world with out Kelly. Then I read your post and know that I am not. There are so many. I will close with this scripture which has helped me move forward some. Isaiah 43.

    Blessings Mark

  2. Your words so often move me to the point of no words. It must be a terrifying feeling. Thank you for reminding us.

    1. Thank you. It is terrifying because I know my memory stinks as my kids remind me of so many things and I have absolutely no recollection. The mind is such a mystery.

  3. Much love Mark. I am praying for same. Some days are harder than others as you know. I am running out of new videos to watch. I pretty much watched them all. And that fact scared the sh_ _ out of me as I realized I only have so many and I can’t add new ones. It hurts. And then some.

    1. We have watched them all. We put our favorites on autoplay almost. That is a sad realization that we can’t make more. I had them all backed up and burned on DVD’s because I don’t want to lose those.

  4. Ohhhhhh, huge sigh Mark. In tears once again by your writing of your Kylie. May you remember ever ounce of her until you get to see her again in eternity.
    Hugs.

  5. I fear forgetting so much when it comes to my friend who might have been the love of my who died, I’m thinking “what if I forget” almost daily.
    I keep putting down small things that I remember in a notebook but I’m so very afraid that one day I will have nothing more to write down.
    Hugs and love to you and your family.

  6. This is so true and the worst thing is that I already had a level of confusion before we lost Jonathan. I knew an event occurred but didn’t recall clearly which of my 3 boys it involved. What I am attempting to do is keep a note pad with me and write down memories as they are triggered. It has helped some but losing something of the little material items I have left terrifies me. As usual, I send hugs!

  7. As long as you keep sharing her in print with us, you will be able to remember and we certainly can share with you what we learn about her in what you share us. We love you and your precious wife and daughters…

  8. Mark, You’re not losing your mind. You just have so much swirling in there. I can’t even imagine losing a child. Losing a spouse is hard enough and I can relate to so many of your words. Some of those words have put my feelings into words because I’m still numb to the whole situation. You will NEVER forget Kylie’s beautiful smile and her beautiful personality!!! Please keep sharing Kylie with us, as well as your wife and daughters. Kylie will forever live in your heart!!

    1. I’m sorry you can identify with these feelings. I hope to keep writing about her and this journey as long as I can because each time I look back through what I’ve written I get a little glimpse of her. In their own way, the words help me remember.

  9. I have grown old while my husband has not. He was taken by cancer when his hair was barely tinged with gray. Twenty-three years later, no one sees my snow-white hair, but they probably all know it’s there. I wonder what he would think if he could see me as I am today. And I, too, wonder what I will forget, what I’ve already forgotten. But we shall all be together, all young, all loving one another and loving and being loved by our Savior. I didn’t know you or your family, Mark, but I prayed for your Kylie, and I pray on for you and your family.

  10. yes, i understand this fear and it is very real. one thing that may help to think about, is that there will be some things that will not be as clear over time, but that others will spring into your heart and your mind when you least expect them, she will never leave you. it is always a balancing act and one that is very difficult at times –

  11. Mark, Somehow, I missed this Post. Kylie will never be forgotten by you. All of her life is deeply ingrained and connected to you. I am thinking of you & your wife as you attend functions with Kylie’s friends as they age and she is forever 12. Kylie will always be with you!!! Cancer can not take Love!!!!!

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