My heart still breaks at the fact you are no longer in this world. I will never be able to forget the last day I spent with you, I held you in my arms for hours. It was the day where you showed up late to school, the little ones were already outside playing, I would say about and hour or two late. I was outside with a few other volunteers playing with the children when I see your mother walking down the street with you in her arms. I remember opening the gate and seeing your red puffy eyes. Your mother then proceeded to place you on the ground and you instantly were hysterically crying. I figured it would take a few minutes to calm you down, that you were just upset about your mother leaving. That day I remember doing everything I could to distract you. Oh how you loved to play with the rubber balls, kicking them and chasing after them, trying to steal them from the older boys, sometimes they would even share with you. That day you did not want to play. You just stood there right where you mother placed you on the ground and cried. I decided to then pick you up and sing some songs, talk to you and just take your mind off of what I had assumed to be the reason for your crying. After some time passed I realized this was not like all the other times I had to distract a child from their leaving parents. I could feel your heart breaking with ever cry you let out and tear that fell down your cheeks. You were in pain. I felt it radiating off of you. No song seemed to be working, not even no more monkeys jumping on the bed. I remember walking around the front court yard dozens of time bouncing you in my arms just talking to you. Although you were most likely too young to really understand what I was saying you would look at me with your big eyes like you knew what I was trying to do. I just wanted to be close to you, hold you and tell you that I care. I needed to show you that day I loved you and nothing else mattered to me but making sure you felt that.
Slowly I got your crying to calm down, I then decided to sit down with you, I put my back against the school wall and stretched my feet out on the cement tiles. At this point you were no longer crying loudly, just tears continued to roll down your face. I held you in my arms with nothing else on my mind. At times you would lift your head up off of my shoulder and we would just look at each other, no words needed to be said. You would then place your head back down and I would rest mine on yours. Your little fingers would curl around mine or you would be playing with my hair.
It was time for the little ones to go inside to play and for the older children to come outside but I could tell you would soon be falling asleep and I did not want to move. I have no clue what it was inside of me that day, but I needed to be right where I was. That is just what I did, I sat there and watched the older children play and continued to make sure you were cared for and loved.
With time your eyes began to grow heavy as I hummed to you. I have no clue how long I sat there with you but I did not want to move a muscle to wake you. Eventually I moved you from my left shoulder to right because my arm started to fall asleep alongside with you. As I moved you, I looked down at my blue shirt and saw this large tear and snot stain. Almost everyday I left the school with some sort of stain on me and never really cared, that day was no different.
As time passed I continued to hum to you as you were sleeping. At some point I was forced to go inside, I so slowly stood up hoping not to wake you and brought you into the school. I then got you a mattress placed you down on your stomach and then sat with you for a minute. I rubbed your back instead of getting up and cleaning or feeding children. I was pulled to you, something inside of me that day was screaming at me to stay with you for as long as I possibly could. When I knew you were fully asleep I stood up and said "goodnight Mackenzie I love you" and then turned to finish up my day at the school. I helped give the older children lunch and put them down for their naps, I was then off to do the dishes until the bus came to take the volunteers home.
When the bus came I was off to get ready for an adventure packed weekend with my friends on a safari. I got to bungee jump off the tallest bridge in the world, see wild animals, and just overall make great memories with my friends.
When Monday rolled around I could not contain my excitement to see the children. I remember impatiently waiting for Seia the bus driver to come pick us up. I then had to sit through the whole bus ride, my heart full of excitement to laugh with the children all day. When we finally roled up to the school, like always I jumped off the bus, thanked Seia and ran into the school.
On this day I walked through the front door and was faced by Jody, one of the girls that ran the school. She stops all of us volunteers before we head in. As we all gather around her she proceeds to say "girls something terrible has happened" she pauses and looks right at me continuing on saying "Friday night Mackenzie was killed." In that very moment I felt my heart shatter into a million pieces and scatter themselves all across the floor. Everything else Jody said came in fragments. All I could think about was your beautiful smile, your sassy dance moves and struts, you screaming at the top of your lungs when we would sing no more monkeys jumping on the bed, and how happy of a child you were. Jody explained to us what had happened that Friday night, that a drunk driver had driven into your house killing you instantly and severely injuring your mother and sister.
There was so much noise happening inside of my and so much pain breaking through my heart. I didn't want to move, I didn't want it to be real. It all of a sudden went quiet. I knew in that moment I would have to walk inside those two glass doors and continue my day playing with the rest of the children. I needed to put on a mask pretending I was okay and not heart broken at the fact you were gone. Somehow that is what I did. Although I could not stop thinking about you, about the last day I had spent with you. I wondered what was going through your head just before it happened. Where you happy, did you feel loved? I do not have much memory of that Monday in school, I was on autopilot.
When Seia came to pick us up I remember getting on that bus and instantly crying. I had just spent the last several hours putting on a smile and giving the children all the love I could possibly give to them in that moment. I was so drained and had nothing left. I remember getting home and looking at that shirt you had stained with your tears the last day I held you. I could not contain myself. Honestly it took me a long time to build up the strength to wash that shirt and then even wearing it again.
Mackenzie you changed my life forever, there is not a day that goes by where I do not think about you and wish this world was not so cruel. You were a beautiful girl that had a pure soul. The last day I spent with you will forever be a day where I gave everything I had to you.
In the last year since your death I think about this day constantly, my memory is not perfect, and that is the hardest part about all of this. This is the story I have been telling myself of how that day happened. There is no way of me ever knowing if I truly said I love you enough times or said that I am there for you. I will never get to know how you felt in my arms. I will never know why it was you were crying so hard, or what you were thinking about that day. I will never know what the rest of your day was like after I left school, or when you got home, I won't know what you were thinking as the car hit your house. These are all questions I continue to ask myself yet will never get the answers too. I just hope the last day I held you in my arms allowed you to feel the love I have towards you. I will never begin to understand why this world took you from us so young, only a year an a half old. You had so much left to explore and learn, laugh and love about.
May you rest in peace my beautiful Mackenzie. I hope you are up in heaven dancing like no other. I pray that you feel how much love everyone has for you and the hole in all of our hearts for losing you.
Greta Ann Vanderblue.