A Letter to Kaiya

Dear Kaiya, I have so much to say to you and yet I don't know what to say all at the same time. So where do I begin???

Look at all the people you've brought here!! Look at all of the people who have come because their lives have been touched or influenced by you! You're amazing!!

Kaiya you are my sister - even if we were blood we couldn't have been closer. The hardest part is the missing...its missing you...its knowing that even with all the technology available to me I won't be able to see you or hear your voice or hear from you and that's what hurts the most. I can't lace you with poetic verses because its hard enough getting all of this out muchless trying to make it creative and pretty.

Kaiya, I love you, and there's no way I can put our bond into words. You were wise beyond your years and sometimes I'd forget who was older. I learned so much from you!!You taught me how to smile through adversity. You taught me that fragile bodies can house a fortified spirit. You taught me to breathe deeply, to laugh heartily and to love freely. Because of you I'm not afraid to live with my heart on my sleeve, because of you pain won't keep me from living...it didn't stop you!!

Part of me wonders if I showed you how much you meant to me, if we showed you how special you were to us, and if you understood the impact you've had on everyone who had a chance to meet you and even on those people who only knew of your struggle but never met you.

It's no coincidence you were called a butterfly - a lot of people spend their lives hoping a butterfly will land on them. And when a butterfly finally lands on a person, the butterfly never stays for a long time. Kaiya, you were our butterfly. You graced this world with your presence for only a short time. All too quickly you had to fly away. Your spirit was so beautiful that it could not be contained in the fragile vessel you were given at birth. A butterfly's beauty is unrivaled. Beauty must be shared. You were here for what seems like only a few brief seconds of eternity but we thank GOD that HE shared you with us for as long as HE did. I have to believe that it pained HIM to see you struggle daily, HE wanted you back with HIM pain-free. Free to dance without limitation. Free to laugh for as loud and as long as you want. Free to eat all the delicacies prepared for you there in heaven. What a party we missed out on!!

We miss you, but we thank you. Thank you for your amazing and shining example of what it means to be a heavenly citizen simply visiting earth. Thank You for being an amazing daughter to your mother Kisha, a great big sister to Sydni and a niece, cousin and best friend to so many. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving us enough to hold on all those times you wanted to give up. You are truly your mother's daughter, never giving up because you were always thinking of your mother and Sydni.

I am blessed, I am honored to know you. And as much as it hurts I am relieved that you no longer lose sleep because you are plagued with the beeping, purrs, whirrs, and humming of machines that monitor your heart rate and breathing. No more unwanted prodding, poking, or tubes and procedures. No, you are completely surrounded by God's glory, His angels, fellow citizens of heaven and love and assurance. The immortal body you have now requires no health insurance. No transplant. It is fully functional, freeing you to do all there is to do in heaven.

At only 17 years old you have left a legacy that most 70 year olds hope they will leave. The day I met you was a beautiful day in what can be an otherwise ugly world. You left this world a better place than you found it. You left me a better person than you found me. Because of your example I can, I will, find a way to laugh through the pain. I will breathe even when it hurts. I will show and wear my scars and bruises proudly, even if its only my heart that's black and blue.

I'm not sure how much time I have left on this side of eternity but this is my promise to you - I will look after your mom and Sydni as best as I can, if and when I have children, they will know your name. And no matter where my life's journey takes me, whether I am in the position to influence one or one million they will know who you are and hear of the way you came to influence me. You will never be forgotten. You are the epitome of a fighter. I will always carry your resilient spirit, your sweet face and your soft almond--shaped eyes with me. I have been touched, inspired and lifted because of the life you have lived and my time with you. Thank you for being courage, beauty, grace, bravery, brilliance and love personified. At 17 you knew what it really means to love -

Kaiya Janae Castillo - this is not goodbye. I'll see you later...in eternity.

I love you!!