Whether on a keychain, a piece of stationary, or a statue on their mantle, almost everyone has something made with their initials. I have all three. When confronted with a bin of wooden letters, I always scoured for an R. I'd do the same thing when coming across alphabet charms or personalized stationary. I am sure everyone does so as well. There is something appealing and comforting about having an item that represents who you are. When I got married, I automatically added an M to my searches. Now, I obviously didn't buy each and every R or M I came across, but it was always fun to look. It was always fun to find the letter that was "mine", or "his", and it was always disappointing when they weren't in the mix. "Awww, man! They don't have it!" Not that I actually planned on purchasing it, but I liked to find them.
In the few times I have been shopping lately, I have come across an opportunity to look for letters, whether in a paper mache display at World Market, or an array of pendants at Urban Outfitters. I skip right past the R's and M's. As you can guess, I go straight for the K's. It's not even a conscious decision. I don't even realize I am looking for a K at first, but I am. This is different from seeing owls or balloons. Those just pop into sight. Those sneak up on me. But, the Ks, I seek out. I look for them. Automatically, I am searching for my daughter.
The other day, a few days before the "Owl Incident of 2013", I was in Orlando with two very good friends. We visited my absolute favorite store of all time, Anthropologie. This store is very boho chic. Vintage style dresses with sweetheart necklines and flowing skirts. Eclectic jewelry. Velvet headbands. Floral sheet sets. All girlie, romantic, and ridiculously expensive. I love it! While wandering through the store, a display of necklace holders caught my eye. (Until very recently, I did not own nearly enough necklaces to warrant a holder for them, and I rarely wore jewelry anyway. However, with so many people so generously purchasing me necklaces as reminders of Kenley, I realized I needed a place to put them since I can only wear one at a time.) The necklace holders were personalized with an initial. Each letter sat perched on top of a stand to hold the many chains you might place on them. Obviously, I went right for the K. There was only one. I held it in my hand and debated on whether or not to buy it. Was it weird to buy something with my dead daughter's initial? Is that too creepy? Too attached? Ultimately, I realized that it was fitting to buy the K since I would use it to hold the necklaces that represent her. So, that is what I did. And now, all of my beautiful necklaces given to me by several wonderful friends have a happy home.
Until February 25, I had never experienced loss. Not truly. My mother's parents passed away when I was very young, so I do not remember the devastation of either of their deaths. My other close family members and friends are all alive and well, thank goodness. So, because of this, I do not pretend that I know what other types of loss feel like. What I do know is that losing a child is like losing a piece of yourself. A piece so enormous that you aren't even sure you'll be able to hold yourself together without it. The rest of you caves in upon this hole, crumbling like a dynamited building, leaving your heart in rubble. You try to take this rubble and rebuild yourself bit by bit. But that piece is always missing and nothing else fits - and so you can never truly set yourself straight. And you topple over again and again and again. When I find a K, for a brief moment, I find peace. She is with me once again, and I feel almost whole. But, that moment is fleeting, and she slips away almost as soon as the letter is in my hand - because I realize that this is just a letter. And a letter won't bring her back. A letter can't possibly close the gaping hole she left behind. Nothing can. Not even time. Time can erect a few support beams in the building, but those beams will always be exposed to the elements. The walls will never be completely closed. The hole will always be there because she will always be missing. Always. I try my best to find comfort in reminders, like owls, balloons, and, of course K's, but they are merely pebbles trying to replace a boulder. No matter how many I find, how many I hoard, I will never be completely sturdy. But, for now, it's the best I can do.
By the way, did I mention the K I found the other day was in the shape of a tree? Because it totally was!