I wake up every single morning to the realization that my sweet 23 year old youngest daughter took her own life. I lie in bed and ponder that fact, in the place where we spent many Saturday mornings talking since she was very little. Before I get up I look at my dresser with the pic of all of us at Disney World when she was little, a pic of her and her sister when they were little, and a school picture of Kaitlyn with a frame made from Popsicle sticks that she ate the Popsicle off of. You can still see the red dye where the Popsicle was. There’s her last bottle of perfume. On the side of the bed that I get up so I can grab my glasses before I put my contact lenses in, there’s the old shelf with some of my books and a few of the ceramic angels she gave me when she was little. This is all before I make it out of bed.
As I walk around the bed, there is the pic of her when she was around 4 years old taken at daycare. A beautiful pic of her and her straight blonde hair and glasses in a pretty dress in front of the pic of a big apple. I turn to walk out of my bedroom door but before I do I pass the pic of her when she is in high school and the very last pic I see in that room is the pic of me and her that she had beautifully framed in her apartment. It’s the one we took in Washington, DC. That is the pic I run my fingers across her image daily. Then I look down and there is the box made from some type of stone that she bought for me once as she knew how I love decorative boxes.
Then I get into the hall and there is the frame with all the pics of our family in our early years and the girls are very young, Kaitlyn is a baby. It’s been there since Kaitlyn was a baby. As I pass it on the other side of the hall is the small spare room where I put so many of Kaitlyn’s things from her apartment when we brought them from it after she died. I feel her presence so much there, her scent often fills the room.
Then I go to my bathroom. It is filled with things she helped me pic out from Bed, Bath, and Beyond when I finally redecorated some of the things in there after years. She helped me pick out some towels and the pretty shower curtain that has butterflies all over it, the beautiful trash can and the toothbrush holder and soap dispenser. The beautiful “Falling Water” soap still sits on my soap holder unused. It’s the last thing she ever gave me, on the last day I ever saw her alive. I can’t use it or it will disappear like she did. Next to the sink is the washcloth holder that she had in her bathroom with nothing on it. In my tub are still remnants of the nonslip decals that are on the bottom that she had applied so expertly and precisely. When she was a teenager and in her bright pink and bright color phase, I let her decorate this bathroom herself, which was mainly used by her (we have 2). After I redecorated there are some of the pink flowers and butterflies I could not remove from the bottom of the tub. They remain. Then there’s Kaitlyn’s shaving cream for her legs I still have and have not used up yet.
I walk out of the bathroom and to the kitchen where I am immediately met by the left end of my refrigerator where I have to this day, and since the very day I put them there, some of the things Kaitlyn drew and made as a child. I still have some of her report cards there, I even have her high school transcript there. On the other side is a post card she sent me from Africa when she went in 2010. It starts, “Dear Parents.” She has never addressed us that way, always “Dear Momma and Daddy” the way she addressed her suicide note. I guess she wanted to sound a little more formal in her postcard.
I go to make my coffee and there is her mixer, her spice rack with all the spices, her nice toaster. I look out my kitchen window and there sits the red wicker sleigh on the ledge that she had put there when she was a little girl, now faded, never having been removed from that spot. I walk past the kitchen table and look at the chair where she always sat. I walk past one of my bookshelves to see another decorative box she bought me with two pictures of her in Africa on either side.
Before I make it to the couch with my coffee, I pass another bookshelf where her bronze baby shoes are, her little porcelain blonde child figurine that has the number 7 at the bottom that was given to her by one of her teachers on her 7th birthday because she loved Kaitlyn so much. They all did. She was their dream student and so very sweet. There also sits a beautifully framed picture of her when she was around 17.
I sit down in my den and look to the left of me on my fireplace mantle and there is a pic of her as a baby looking out to me and beside of it was her footprint that was framed by her grandmother Elkins.
I look to the right of me and in my living room is a room filled with all her living room furniture that inhabited her apartment complete with the large beautiful self-portrait she drew and I had framed. That picture was not in her apartment as she had left all her art work at home when she left for college.
This is what I am faced with EVERY SINGLE DAY that I get out of bed and EVERY SINGLE DAY my heart breaks off into even smaller pieces until I’m sure there will be nothing left to it one day. The intensity of the pain I experience in all of this never decreases. Ever.
Then when I go outside or leave the house, I start this same process with things that remind me of her out there.
Then at night the whole process I described for the morning starts over again only backward. I trace the image of her picture where she and I look out of that pic with happiness in our eyes. I get in bed and again the last thought I have is that my daughter killed herself and she is no longer here and I am sadder than sad and I wonder how a mother can live like this for the rest of her life. I wonder…..and I am sad. So very, very sad.
And then in the morning I awake to the realization that my sweet 23 year old youngest daughter…….