With the help of my neighbor girl, Morgan, I finally opened up the suitcases that I took to China. It was over a month that they sat occupying a cozy corner of my house waiting to be opened and explored and tucking things away.
The truth is, I could not bring myself to open them up...emotionally or physically. But the time had come that I needed to take care of that chore. It was painful to open them up, to see the clothes that I never wore, to see that all the gifts I had put together...power point, maple syrup, seeds, an album of photos from my photography students that I painstakingly put together were gone. They had been handed off to Kimberly as if I were just handing her a pencil or a tissue.
My journal had three pages of entries...all had stopped when I stopped. There were folders of Dr. reports and hospital paraphernalia...all in Chinese. I found the two empty soda pop cans. I remember you laughingly put them in my suitcase as my only souvenir. I was wrong though, because I found my jade bracelet in the small case, the one you gave me, remember? It made me cry as if we were back in the hospital. You bought it for me so I would have one treasure to take home with me. I will cherish it always.
There were also pencils and curlers (I still use them for my bangs!), small shampoos and lotions...all untouched.
Deep in the bottom of the large suitcase, I found a card addressed to me. It was unopened. It had a giant "L" on the front. It was a letter from you with inspirational thoughts and challenges, and, even though you also missed your China trip, you felt lucky that we spent this time together.
I also found a beautiful cache of postcards you purchased for me from the trip. Thank you for those.
It was fun to find our black-market videos, you know, the ones I watched at night over and over and over...
I found all the notes you left when I fell asleep late at night. You laid out the movie for the night, knowing I would wake up at midnight. When I awoke in the dark, in the lonely place that I found myself, there were your notes to cheer me through the night.
Katie, your grace and sweetness will always be treasured. You never complained, you worked endlessly with your company to get me home, and you brought me good coffee every day.
Maybe we can both try the trip again, and actually see what we both missed.
From the depths of my heart, Katie, I thank you.
Here is a picture of Katie before everything happened.
Note to readers: It was very cold that morning in Beijing
so we were all dressed in layers, Katie is really very
little in size!! (Aren't you glad I added that, Katie??)