When I Saw You for the Last Time

I saw you for the last time a year ago today, Katie.

I wore a black dress and gold polka dot tights that you would have loved. I joked with my friends about burning them in the fire pit afterwards, but I never did. You wore a navy blue tunic with bright colored dinosaurs on it, orange leggings and a white bow in your hair. I was nervous. I wanted to behave in a way that would make you proud. I felt a wreck inside.

I was so afraid to see you but you were so beautiful. I could have stayed with you all day. I ran my finger down your sweet nose and I wanted so badly to touch you. I wanted to hold you but I knew if I did, I wouldn’t let you go. I knew I’d ask to go with you. I still wish that most days. Daddy and I tucked you in with your baby blanket and a few special things. We turned on your stars to “blue.” Always blue, right love?

I saw you for the last time a year ago today, Katie.

Hundreds of people came. Two rooms full, baby. They had to set an overflow room to catch all of the love. Guests wore gold ribbons handed out by friends and they were given the most beautiful program book created by Uncle Brucie and Ephraim. They got to walk through your Honeybear classroom too, sweetheart. I know that meant a lot to many people. To see where you spent your days. To see your creations on the walls. To feel your presence.

Aunt Mandi sang to you. I picked the songs but she brought them to life. I remember wondering if I’d made a terrible mistake with the choice “It is Well With My Soul.” Was it? No…no, it wasn’t. Not then. But I loved what the song said. What it promised. And I thought, just maybe, it was well with YOUR soul. And that’s all I could ever pray for. Cousin Alex read you a poem and Jillie stood by his side. Pastor Gary sang for all of us and we all FELT you there, Kate. “This Little Light of Mine.” Who can hear that now and not remember what he said about you? How he perfectly honored you and your darling soul? I read you a letter. I think people cried.

I saw you for the last time a year ago today, Katie.

Your Aunt Jamie picked your beautiful white casket with soft pink satin inside. She’s never hated something she so lovingly picked out before. She likely never will. She chose the beautiful flowers that sat on top, complete with a special painted letter “K” that was used to decorate for your No More Chemo party just months before. You, yourself, painted that K, my darling girl. It was only ever supposed to go in your room.

I’m told it was frigidly cold that day. I’m sure things were said there at the site where you would rest, but I sure couldn’t tell you what those things were. I remember thinking, “I’m going to go there with her. No one would blame me! Who would blame me??” and I spent the rest of the day wondering how I could just get back there to you. We didn’t stay to watch them cover you with earth and soil. I couldn’t. Should I have? Some days I wish I’d have stayed with you every moment your body was here on earth.

We made our way to Mommy’s club. Remember, sweetheart? Where we met Santa Claus? There was so much love in that place from the people to the food to the butterflies Miss Courtney had decorated with. There was pink and gold. Smiley fries and cheese cubes. People wrote such lovely notes inside your favorite books. Oh sunshine, if only you knew how many people were there who LOVE you. Faces everywhere. I regret I spoke to so few. Maybe I did…but I don’t remember. Yours was the only face I saw.

I grew very, very tired and I needed to go. People made their way home. Our cars drove us home, too. I don’t think anyone spoke a word. I sure didn’t. You’re all I could see. You’re all I could think of. Nothing has changed. You’re all I can see. You’re all I think of. I still want to get back there to you, Kate. I still want to crawl inside and hold you and never let you go. Only certain people understand this.

I saw you for the last time a year ago today, Katie.

And I will never, ever be the same.

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