On this day 3 years ago, it all changed… My heart is still shattered and is only held together by severely stretched out rubber bands, strengthened merely by the love and compassion of those I love and that love me. For most this is just another day, but to my sister its the day her first born passed away…. Easily one of the worst, if not THE worst day of our lives. I remember it all like it was yesterday. I have re-lived that day in my head every day since then, all 1095 of them.
I have not been able to look at a picture of Kaylee since then without bursting in to tears. Each New Years Eve since then, while everyone is out partying and planning for an amazing New Year, I dread the switch to January. Because I know 12 days in, it ALL comes back to me in detail. Driving down Antonio from My Gym, calling Kerri-Ann to tell her I want to start taking Kaylee and Dylan to My Gym together. I had just bought cute little dog PJs that could be for a boy and a girl with hearts for Valentines Day, with plans for our first sleepover. Kerri-Ann didn’t answer my call because well, it had all already changed for her in San Clemente.
One day maybe I’ll blog about the day, maybe my sister and I can share that blog because I won’t be able to do it myself.
Last year I started this blog to try and heal, but each rough day that came by I couldn’t bring myself to write about it. I’ve stopped our Christmas Newletter since this day because, well, its just too hard and sometimes I feel like life is falling apart and I don’t want to dump it all on everyone. But today, I’m pulling up my boot straps in your honor Kaylee….
Below is the talk I gave at Kaylee’s Celebration of Life…
Please excuse all the typos. I can’t get through it without crying so you’ll have to deal…
Celebration of Life
Good morning everyone. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Kirsten and I am Kaylee’s Aunt (Kerri-Ann’s older sister).
I wanted to share with you some things from the service we had for Kaylee on the 20th of January.
Now, I’m sure you would all understand that arranging a ceremony at sea for this type of thing was difficult emotionally but in true Doherty style my sister’s requests and desires for that day were nothing short of impossible.
She had several things she wanted done (and by the time we got around to making the arrangements we only had about 5 days to make them happen):
She wanted to have about 35+ people there (most boats held up to 15).
She wanted a flower urn that was pinky-purple (most flower urns were all white and took at least a month to get).
She wanted flying lanterns to be sent off after the service (fire hazard),
And then all that followed by dinner with everyone in Newport Beach (parking nightmare).
The significance of the lanterns was due to the movie Tangled, which is one of Kaylee’s favorite movies…. So off we went to make the impossible happen:
The boat: After about 4 days of searching I found only ONE boat that could hold our party size that was available.
The urn: We had to have the urn made by a friend specifically for this as what Kerri-Ann wanted didn’t exist …. go figure.
The lanterns: Holland had ordered bio-degradeable lanterns and they were on their way but NOT ONE Captain would allow us to launch the flying lanterns off their boat. The captain of the ONE boat that I DID find that was available said no to the lanterns. So after no luck finding any other boats I had to go back and call him and basically explain to him why he needed to do what I wanted done – even though he had already said no. I told him I had already talked to people from the Marine Safety Department, the Coast Guard and with various city officials in between. I explained the reason we needed HIS boat and the significance of the lanterns. He apologized again and said didn’t think he could do it as the risks were too great to his boat and the passengers (especially with the weather forecast we had for that day).
I had almost started to think we were going to have to have a plan B but couldn’t confront telling that to my sister. Then… The Captain called me back. He said he was in and wanted to do it and had fallen in love with my niece. He made it very clear that in his 25+ years of being a Captain he has NEVER done this and would not do it again but that we were going to do our best to light off those lanterns weather and safety permitting. He had called the Coast Guard himself to verify he was good to go and they had said they were fine on it but it was his call. So he was in.
The day of the service everything was in order EXCEPT the lanterns hadn’t arrived yet… Internal freak out Kirsten & Holland style. I kinda mentioned it to Kerri-Ann then just stopped talking to her about it as I was trying to come up with plan B, C D & E with Holland & Maranda. Holland was literally on the phone calling UPS tracking down the driver, explaining the significance of the lanterns why they were needed right now (our boat had to push off at a certain time) and so on. Luckily the driver was close and got them to Holland in time.
So we get to the boat and get things moving. The Captain says excitedly that he has a feeling we might get to see a dolphin or two. We were like “K, cool dude… we kinda have other things on our mind right now….”
On our way out to sea we shared stories and talked about our beautiful Kaylee. My Dad performed the service and Kerri-Ann and Dennis lowered the ashes into the water. Now… one thing you should all know… When Kaylee was born Kerri-Ann had to have a c-section. Kerri-Ann had gone 34+ hours with not one drug all the way to 10 centimeters, pushing for hours to then go to the hospital to have a c-section. Kaylee was too big to fit. It was mathematically going to be impossible for her to come out any other way and when it came to the ashes it was the same thing… amazingly that little body produced more ashes than anticipated so not all of them fit into the urn! Not surprising when you think about it… she didn’t fit coming in and didn’t fit going out. She is not of this world.
So… back to the service. We lowered the ashes and of course there were tears, grief, and saddness but in pure Kaylee form she redirected our attention to life, beauty and awesomeness. All of a sudden there were hundreds of dolphins swimming all around us. Literally out of nowhere – HUNDREDS. They were jumping all over the place, swimming with us, looking up at us, dancing for us and playing with us. We were surrounded by what I later found out to be the largest amount of Dolphins that have been off the coast of Southern California in over 20 years. Our tone level came up and we shouted “we love you Kaylee” and felt her love surrounding us back. We tried to light the lanterns but it was a bit too windy (we did like 3 or 4). We felt her laughing at us and saying “I just gave you like a thousand dolphins and you’re trying light that thing in the wind?”
Obviously her contribution to that service was the most memorable part of it all and nothing that could have been orchestrated in the physical universe — it had to be purely spiritual. At the end the Captain yelled thank you to Kaylee for helping him keep his word because he was starting to worry about his promise to us from earlier in the trip.
The point of my story here is to illustrate to you how amazing my niece Kaylee is… She changed the mind of people who are normally very fixed in their ways and even cut through government red tape and arbitrary rules… all for the purpose of love and admiration. She is magical, powerful, beautiful, stubborn, awesome, and unforgettable.
It was a beautiful service and was very uplifting and spiritual (as they should all be). But it was also like she was saying “I’m okay. I’m playing around… look at all this cool stuff I can do from here!”
Of course it’s hard sometimes because one of our favorite Beings is not here in the flesh. I don’t know about you but I like flesh… especially when it’s as cute as hers was.
I’m lucky I didn’t have any girls cuz girls don’t get more beautiful than her — and I would have been a terrible mother to think someone else’s child was more adorable than my own.
Of course I miss things — her smell, her neck, her whispers of I love you, I miss her and Dylan dancing naked or riding scooters in my house, I miss hearing her laughing hysterically at Noa who could get her laughing like no one else, I miss her playing with my hair and kissing her all over and only to have her say “it’s too much Kirsten–too much”… For the record Kaylee, there’s no such thing as “too much” from me so get ready for round two…
It’s hard because I do miss her more than words can describe and my heart does ache but I am also excited and feel that we are lucky (in a strange, twisted way)… We get round two with that being that today we call Kaylee but tomorrow will be named something else. We get to experience it all again from the beginning and get to cherish every second of it – not many people get that chance. Make no mistake– you will know that Being when you see him or her in Kerri-Ann’s arms–the smile will be ear to ear, the eyes will twinkle like the brightest star, and that love will be endless. You will sense that he or she is home and you will know all is well and right again.
Thank you for your kisses,
Thank you for your hugs,
Thank you for your “I love you’s”
Thank you for loving my boys,
Thank you for helping me get my Dylan,
Thank you for taking your first steps to Noa,
Thank you for letting me be important to you,
Thank you for flirting with Uncle Matt and being his little girl,
Thank you for always eating puffs for me and making me feel special to you,
Thank you for dancing naked with Dylan and all the fun in the tub and the sink,
Thank you for laughing at Noa hysterically,
Thank you for dancing crazy,
Thank you for photo shoots on our bed,
Thank you for being you and for picking us.
To close off I wanted to share some things that I have learned in my time with Kaylee this time around:
1. We certainly do pick our families — and I love mine to pieces
2. A spiritual being has an endless supply of love to give. Two years, 10 months and 2 days old and SHE taught ME that….
3. Someone can touch you so deeply and ignite so much love in your very core INSTANTLY — and THAT will never go away
4. That my family is lucky to have you all in our lives, we are literally surrounded by the best friends on earth
5. I have the best, strongest, most beautiful sister in the universe
6. I love reunions and will be waiting VERY impatiently for one in particular…
I love you Kaylee…