This is my sister and angel, Kayla. She is the reason Grief + Hope exists. Since this is her birthday month, I wanted to share some facts about Kayla.
This is one of my family’s favorite pictures of Kayla because it embodies who she was to the fullest. As much as Kayla loved to look cute, she hated getting her hair combed! It was a fight between her and my mother pretty much every day. Most days they would both get frustrated and Kayla would end up saying, “Tie it up!” That meant, “Put my hair in a bun!” This day was no different even though we wanted her to look different for the family photos. Kayla was so proud of herself for winning this fight.
That’s another thing about Kayla- she loved to fight. Everyone knows Kayla for how loving she was, but I knew the fighter. Kayla’s favorite pastime was fighting me. It would start off as a fun fake fight where I would let her swing and I would fake like I was hitting back. The only problem was that Kayla was not faking and her punches were landing. Kayla would “beat me up” every day, and would laugh until she couldn’t breathe anymore. When she would finally get her breath back she would say, “I won!” with the biggest smile on her face. That smile made me melt every single day.
Kayla came into this world fighting for her life and left this world telling me to fight! In my last conversation with her, she told me, “It’s ok to fight sometimes Yaya!” I laughed and cried because I realized she was passing her strength to me. She knew I would need it. I did not realize until we buried her that I would need those words so much.
After her burial, I was met with two battles to fight- grief and depression. In the fight, I quickly learned that in order to defeat depression my weapons would be praise, prayer, patience, and therapy. But grief was going nowhere! Grief was more than an emotion or spirit and it wasn’t something that needing fighting. Grief needed something added to it and that was hope. I battle the darkness of grief with hope every single day in order to stay in the right frame of mind.
I think people believe that because I speak publicly about having hope that I’m happy with what happened. No that was Kayla! Kayla was overjoyed to learn that she was leaving this earth. She was completely done with fighting her natural body to do what she wanted to do! She would tell me “Kayla is tired! I’m ready to go!” I had to be ok with that which took a lot out of me. But the fighter in her is now what gives me the courage and the hope to keep going. This Grief + Hope Journey is not easy at all, but without hope, it would be impossible.
I pray this post and entire journey inspires someone to keep fighting and add hope to whatever situation they are going through.