maybe, just maybe

(this story was written by Tamsyn, a young writer who participated in our Spilling Open March Break camp here at Blackbird Studio…)


Imagine the nicest day ever: the beginning of a promising spring, with flowers already in bloom and a smell of freshness in the air. The weather was gorgeous – it was an ideal Vancouver day, shiny and bright, the rain of yesterday having cleaned everything off.

It’s the sort of day when I couldn’t not take my daughter Lydia outside, even if she was sick.

“You shouldn’t,” my husband had said. “I know it’s a nice day…but that’s not going to make her get any better. Emily, you know what Doctor Johansson said. She shouldn’t be over exerting herself; she needs time to recover from the chemotherapy. It might -if – you know, if we give her time to recover, she might just live longer.”

That stopped me for a moment. My maternal instincts wanted nothing more than to keep her inside, in her bed, where I could watch her and where she might squeeze in another day or two of life. I didn’t have to take her outside. Just because she had Leukemia, didn’t mean that she could have everything she wanted.

But I knew, inside, that the right thing to do was to let her go. Let her play, even if she had a shorter life. Because this place, our little house with her pony-poster-covered room, was not her real home. I knew that she would be 100 times as happy outside, with the trees. As much as I loved her, I knew that she would never love me quite as much as she loved the trees.

I took her to the beach, where we could run around and maybe swim in the ocean. Of course the very first things she did was climb a tree. She skittered up its branches and bark, with more difficulty than usual, and sat there for a while, wrapped in her thoughts.

“Come up, mummy,” she called down to me, her sweet voice twinkling like fairy bells. I could see that she really wanted me to. But I couldn’t come up. I hadn’t climbed a tree in forever.

“I -I can’t, Lydi.” I could see her face fall -she really was disappointed. She really wanted this. Remembering the painful truth about Lydia’s wishes,  and how they needed to be fulfilled soon, I couldn’t bear to let her down.

“Mum?” Lydia asked gently, when I had gotten up. “Am I -will – I’m dying , aren’t I?”

I didn’t answer.

“I think I am. The doctor said I might get better. But I think…I feel so sick, mum. I don’t wanna die.”

I squeezed her arm. “I love you,” I said.

“I love you too.” We both got lost in our own thoughts.

And as I sat there in the tree, holding Lydia tight like maybe if I did she wouldn’t leave me, I realized something about life. That maybe, just maybe, if doesn’t matter how long you live, but how you live. And perhaps it didn’t matter that Lydia would die at her young age, but that she got to fit so much life into her 6 years.


That was weeks ago – when Lydia was still here. She died, since then.

Sometimes I forget, and I wake up in the middle of the night sad. For a split second I wonder why; and then I remember. Sometimes remembering brings me sadness, sometimes pain or anger; and sometimes all three.

Sometimes I feel okay. Most times I don’t. I know I will recover – eventually. That’s what scares me the most. As much as remembering her hurts, it would be infinitely worse to forget about her.

When I feel so sad that I want to die too, I remember that afternoon. I remember sitting in the tree, holding her close.

I remember what she taught me.

And then I don’t feel so bad.


Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015