Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Story Behind The Bench

Kyra's Bench
Kyra went to heaven,
and all we got was this bench.
... and it's not enough.

When I look at Kyra's bench, that saying comes to mind-- I'm not sure what that says about me, but I'm sure its nothing good.

When Kyra died, her memorial service was held on a cold and rainy February day in Santa Cruz. The rain seemed a fitting thing, as if the very heavens themselves wept in sympathy for the depths of our loss.

Money was collected for a bench to honor her memory. Kyra loved sunflowers, so there is a sunflower at the top. On the left is a carving of one of her drawings, a sunflower heart. On the right is her hand flashing "I love you" in sign language.

On the day of her memorial service, the bench had not been placed yet. But after the service, we all trudged out to the place where the bench is now. We stood in the mud and the iceplant in the rain dressed in our Sunday best.

Kyra loved decorated bandaids and we all wore two bandaids over our hearts placed in the shape of a cross. Bandaids for our broken hearts. But those weren't enough either.

We dug a hole in the rain and mud and planted the tree that is there now. Kyra's preschool teacher was there with her preschool friends. The kids scattered flowers in the stream that flows through the park and out to the ocean. Steven and Gannon were there, toddlers, Steven was 18 months old and Gannon had recently turned two.

Later on the bench was placed. A short distance away, in sight of Kyra's bench, there is a child-sized bench in memory of another preschool child. It reads "To Infinity and Beyond".

When we were in Santa Cruz, we decided to pay a visit to Kyra's bench. There was a woman sitting on Kyra's bench when we arrived. She lives in the area and she sits there often to smoke and read.

She was very friendly and accomodating when we arrived and offered to take photos of us.

The boys on Kyra's bench

She asked about Kyra.

"Kyra was my niece. She was beautiful and way smarter than any girl that age had a right to be and we found a tumor on her brainstem right after she turned three", was about all I could manage.

The woman asked about Steven and Sean. I told her Steven had a brain tumor too.

I think she was glad to meet one of the families and to hear the story behind one of the many benches that line the cliffs above Santa Cruz.

... and that's all I have to say about that.

- Kathleen


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