Without a doubt, it's been the saddest and fastest-moving year of my young life. Kaylin died on November 21, 2016 in NYC, the day before she was set to fly home. For good. One of the last things she texted me was "I'm in trouble..." and "in so much pain... just want to die." I was at work that Monday morning when our mom called and said "hi, Rhoni" in that voice I've grown to know all too well over the past nine years. It was the voice I heard eight years prior, when she called while I was in line at Best Buy picking up season four of The Office. Kaylin was crying and googling "ewing sarcoma survival rate" when I got home. I was only 19, I didn't know what to say and I was too afraid I'd say the wrong thing. So I made a joke about our mom's cat that was staring at us. We both laughed and then we watched The Office.
This call wasn't all that different than that first one. With the first call, she was only 23 and I thought she was going to die. With the last call, she was 31 and I knew. Our parents and I tried to get to New York as soon as we could, but it wasn't fast enough. We're all very grateful that she had her friends with her at the hospital. She was far from alone. One of her closest friends called me, our dad, and our mom and left his phone to Kaylin's ear so that we could each say goodbye. We have no idea if she could hear us or if she knew what was happening, but it meant a lot.
We spent the next couple of days packing up Kaylin's apartment. Ice flew back with me and he's enjoying his new forever home at our mom's. I still try to pet and speak to him in the very particular way Kaylin always did.
It seems like all of this just happened a couple months ago. In reality, so much has happened in this past year that I've wanted to talk to Kaylin about, both good and bad. I got laid off the day after her funeral. I found a great new job that I'm really happy with. I got my first tattoo (on what would've been Kaylin's 32nd birthday), a copy of the spade she had on her wrist. We lost an uncle, very unexpectedly. The most difficult one was probably when I got engaged this summer. Four years prior, my fiancé gave me a promise ring while we were at Disney World, in the same place he would later propose. Kaylin was the first person I told, and while she thought promise rings were kind of dumb, she was so happy for me. I'm sad that she's not here to help me plan my wedding, which she was really excited about doing one day. I'm sad she's not going to be there when I try on wedding dresses so she can tell me what's ugly (I'm just being realistic). I'm sad about a lot of things. I imagine I will be for a long time, especially as I hit these adulting milestones that Kaylin was always so excited about or proud of.
I've harbored a lot of guilt for not posting on here sooner. Kaylin explicitly asked me to continue posting for her. However, as I was looking through some of her writings to post today, I realized that she also asked me to do so when I'm ready. Considering I've only just recently stopped crying myself to sleep every night, I feel like she would be understanding. I do apologize to you all, though. I promise future posts won't detail my experiences; rather, this will be where I feature Kaylin's writing and artwork, as she intended. Apparently, I just had a year's worth of grief that I needed to articulate.
I find relief knowing Kaylin's not in pain anymore. I wish we could have seen her one last time, but she had to let go. And that's okay.
"wondering when I will decide enough is enough. wondering if my eyebrows will turn white. wondering if it's the dilaudid that makes me grind my teeth at night.
wondering if there is an afterlife
(did she really say dublet?)
wondering what will kill me? an infection to my brain? the pain? alone"
- Kaylin, 11/11/16