I remember the last time the leaves changed. It might be the last time I truly marveled at the site of it all. The way the earth looks like it’s on fire. The way the colors burst against a bright blue sky.
I remember the last time the leaves changed. I carried you on my back through the park. We laughed and shared stories. You wanted to see the squirrels. The squirrels, for some reason, amazed you. Now I know how the small things are amazing. I’m glad you taught me that. If only for a day or two …
Walking through the streets, I saw the looks. I saw the people do a double-take, wondering what was wrong. If they were seeing things correctly. The silent conversations. The disbelief. I don’t think you even noticed. I’m glad you didn’t. We just laughed and enjoyed the sunshine. Stopped to pose for photos. Listened to the fountain. Wondered what it would be like to live in one of the stately mansions that surrounded the park. Thought about the candy we were about to go buy. You know. Normal stuff on a not-so-normal couple days.
In some ways, it seems like days ago that we giggled together in the stalls of the restaurant bathroom. Yesterday that you ate more of my dinner than your own. It was like, what, an hour ago that we raced through the candy store, filling the bag full of cinnamon candies, jelly candies and sour candies. Seconds ago that I patted you on the head and said, “I’m proud of you, girlie girl. I’ll see you soon. OK?”
Alas. It was almost a year ago. How is that so?
I never saw you again. And as I type this, I’m trying to remember if I ever even talked to you again. Surely I did. Right? My heart hurts thinking too hard about it. So I try not to. One day soon I’ll go through my e-mails and see what we talked about. I’m sure we did talk on the phone. Maybe a couple times I checked in to see how you were doing, learning to walk again. I do remember that now. It was always hard to catch you at a good time. I tried. I can’t remember. I hurt too much trying to remember.
You are with me now. When the sun shines down, sometimes I hear your voice. When the leaves change, I hear your heart-melting giggle. When the wind blows just the right way, or I see a squirrel scurry up a tree in my front yard, I’m sure you’re about to call me on the phone …
“Miss Kasey? It’s Rashale.”
Well, Rashale. This time, I’m calling you.
“Miss Rashale? It’s Kasey. How are you feeling? I picture you dancing in the clouds. I bet it’s beautiful where you are. I just know you have so many new friends, and I bet you all dance and giggle all day long. I hope you are enjoying all the rice and beans you can eat. It is, after all, your 10th birthday this week! Can you believe it?! I asked a few people to join with me to wear pink or purple on your birthday, Nov. 11, since I know you’d have liked that we all wear your favorite color. So, happy birthday, girlie girl. We all miss you, but know we will dance again one day.”