Tuesday, November 21, 2017

everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt

One year.

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.

- Rhoni

"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


Caroline said...

I never met Kaylin but followed her blog probably since her diagnosis. She seemed she was living the life she wanted until cancer got in the way. She is missed.

Amber Choisella said...

I love you Rhoni, your truth is beautifully tragic, it's needed.

Jackie said...

Thanks for posting, Rhoni. I've thought of Kaylin, you, and your family often over the last year, and I still hold her close to my heart. Two Thanksgivings ago, I didn't have anywhere to go, and so I went to Kaylin's apartment to bake pumpkin pies. This year for Thanksgiving, I made a special one in her honor. I miss her too, and I hope you keep writing and posting when you're ready.

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Levi said...

I think of her. She made an enormous impact to many people, not just the cancery-ones. I’m glad you wrote and grieve for her as long as you need. We are grieving with you.

Natalia Menert said...

Hi Rhoni,

I wanted to thank you for honoring your sister’s wishes by continuing her work. I did not personally know her—I found her website soon after my cancer diagnosis and her posts really helped me through the hard times. I appreciated her openness and no-nonsense attitude in her posts, and I really enjoyed you update with the same raw emotion. I want you to know that I will keep you, Kaylin, and your family and friends in my prayers. Her memory and impact will live on.

Nikhil Autar said...

I'm so sorry for you loss =(

Jeremy Impson said...

Thank you for posting, Rhoni. I'm so sorry about, well, everything. I never met Kaylin Marie Andres, but I will never forget her.

shaan said...

Thanks for posting. I was Kaylin's Livejournal friend for years and years -- we met once around 2012 in SF before she moved to NY. Weird, smart, funny, but most inspiring of all was her balls. I'm glad I got to know her.


Applecart T. said...

thank you.
I am so sorry for your loss.
she is loved.

timewilltell said...

Hi Rhoni....Your sister is very special and her spirit and artistic talent touched my heart. Her brave,raw exposure of the awful circumstances she faced nevertheless left a sense of inspiration, and that she could function and produce with excellence in the face of her dreaded disease is a tribute to her joyous heart and ironic sense of humor. I so wished for a miracle for her and her loved ones and maybe her treatment history will contribute to a better result for others in the future. Whatever happens in future medical terms, she has contributed an amazing portfolio of art and writing and fashion and beauty and she lived her short life to the fullest. You should be very comforted by the fact that she touched so many lives, strangers and friends alike. And to you I send wedding congratulations . You have probably been in shock and maybe even suffered from a slight case of PTSD. The 1st year is the hardest after the untimely death of a loved one. Look for her symbols and she will be with you forever . Namaste......

timewilltell said...

FYI, I just read this today about people choosing to die alone. Your sister knew you were coming to be with her so maybe this will allay your guilt about not being with her.

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Steinar Andersen said...

Rhoni, I followed your sister's blog starting about 5 years ago (after I started blogging about my wife's cancer and our journey).

Unfortunately, my wife passed in February of 2016 and my last blog post was in May of 2016 (its been 2 years). I just looked at my blog and clicked the link to Kaylin's blog to get caught up to date. I was so very saddened to hear your sister lost her battle also.

My sincere condolences. I hope you do get the chance to share some of her writings...... I will check in from time to time to see.

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Amber Gregory said...

Rhoni ... I just now saw this. And honestly, post when you're ready. And quite honestly -- we'd all love to read your experiences as well. At least I would. I lost my husband in April 2017 and I know all about the type of grief that will take a lifetime to work through. Much love. We all miss Kaylin.

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