Blessed with a Wilder Mind

Kayla, during one of her hospitalizations, walking in the first snow. This is my favorite photo of her.

Kayla, during one of her hospitalizations, walking in the first snow. This is my favorite photo of her.

Dear Kayla,

Yesterday, I told two friends about you. I said, “November 17th.” I don’t know why the day you were found sticks in my head more than the day you disappeared. I knew you disappeared. I knew you were dead. So why does memory cling to the discovery and not to the loss?

Last year, I wrote you a letter.

Last year, I wrote you a song.

Last year, I said goodbye.

I hate that goodbyes do not end. We are always, always saying goodbye.

I am always reminded of you: the upturned face in the snow, long skirts and long hair, baby cheeks and big eyes, poetry. Poetry everywhere, in every living thing, the incredible natural rhythm of your prose, the way that it pushed at itself and pulled at the reader. At me, at me, at me, like the bray of my own heart, like those literary tattoos we laughed at because brag, brag, brag.

How did someone I never met face-to-face have such a profound impact on me?

I had to change the tense of that sentence.

It has seven years and I am still suspended in a slow-motion fall of disbelief.

This year, Kayla, has been rough.

I loved, and did not say it. I was broken-hearted, and am still trying to thread the eye of the needle to stitch myself back together. Some days, I’m still angry. I am grieving over a broken heart I should have seen coming. Some days, it’s so painful I don’t think I can breathe. It took me so long to admit and see what I wanted, and now it isn’t mine. I don’t know how that will ever get easier. It has to, though, right? This is what we told each other back then, years ago.

Depression continues to pull at me, keeps me in bed, under the covers, crying at every small thing, steals my motivation and my interest in everything when my back is turned. My back is always turned. I’ve taken steps to counteract this, in a proactive way that I wouldn’t have done seven years ago, but it doesn’t keep the fog from marching forward.

I sent three books into the world. I am proud of that, and of them, and of the readers who reach out after reading them. I cannot believe I get to say my readers, but I do. I am lucky. I am proud. I worked hard for this. I continue to work hard for this. I don’t know what’s next, and that terrifies me a little bit. Everything about publishing is fragile and threadbare. I am struggling to remember what it’s like to love the thing I’m writing and not care if I sell it. But I do care. And not everything I love to write is sellable. How do I justify this? How do I balance this? Can I? Do I? Every day, I ask myself these questions. I have no answers. No one has answers.

I have said hurtful things to people I know on the internet. I have been hurt by people on the internet. There are images that have been sent to me I cannot unsee. There are threats that have been sent to me I cannot unhear. I am aware of myself and what I am saying on the internet in a way that I have never been before, and in a way that makes me cautious, and afraid, but also a better person. This confuses me.

I am a better person than I was last year.

I am a louder person than I was last year.

I am a sadder person than I was last year.

I am a more stable person than I was last year.

How can all of these truths be the same at once? How can all of this be true at once? I am grappling with this. Did you grapple with this? Did you find any answers? Do you know the secrets now?

Can you whisper them into my ear while I dream?

You are missed.

You are loved.

This is present tense.

Love,

Katie

 

Last year I wrote a letter to Kayla called With Flowers in Your Hair.

If you, or someone you know, is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. 

You, yes, you reading this right now. You are irreplaceable. You are beautiful. You are brilliant. You are deserving of an incredible life. Suicide is not the answer. Please get help. I believe in you.

 

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