Here’s her incredible winning entry from this week. It made me cry. Which is good.
Thanks and congratulations!
Marty’s eyes scanned the crowd. He stood before them, rustling his crumpled piece of paper. Tears stung his eyes. Her mother sat in the front row, her hand laced in her sisters. Everyone stared at him expectantly, but he couldn’t speak. He didn’t know what to say. The random words he’d scribbled on the lined pages didn’t seem to make sense as he stared at them. They didn’t come to life. They didn’t jump out at him. They were haphazard thoughts scrawled hurriedly because he knew he had to write something, get anything down.
Why did he start with how nice she was? Her niceties wasn’t what he missed when he laid in bed at night. He didn’t dwell on how they met or how long they’d known each other. When he was alone at night, curled around her pillow, trying to breathe in the remnants of her scent, he didn’t think about how they were high school sweethearts. That didn’t matter. And so, why were those the things he’d wrote down? Why were those things what he was about to share with all her friends and family?
“I…” his voice trailed off.
People started to exchange looks. They didn’t think he would be able to get through this. He didn’t think he would be able to get through this, but he had to. Didn’t he? Could he just sit down and say, “I’m sorry, it’s too hard”? It wouldn’t be a lie. The pastor moved over to him and Marty held up his hand, signaling for him to stop and sit back down. He balled the piece of paper up, crushing it in his hand and said, “I wrote something for today. But it doesn’t apply. Because what I was thinking about yesterday isn’t what I am thinking about today.”
A sob came from the front row. Her mother dabbed her eyes with a Kleenex.
“Caylee was my life.” He paused and laughed. “It sounds so stupid to say that. I wrote a hundred things down on these pieces of paper. A hundred things that would be appropriate to tell you. About how I loved that she wanted lots of children and about how she used to pick slugs up off the sidewalk and move them out of the way so they wouldn’t get stepped on. Those aren’t the things I dream about. Those aren’t the things that keep me up at night.”
Once more he looked out at the crowd, took a deep breath and expelled a weary, broken hearted sigh. Then he said, “I miss her smile. I miss the taste of her lips, they were like cherries, red with Lipsmackers. I miss the curve of her waist my arm fit so perfectly around when I pulled her in for a hug. I long for the warmth of her breath on my neck, it would lull me to sleep each night. I miss the length of her hair tickling my arm when we danced around our living room to crappy eighties songs that she loved. When I’m alone, I hear her singing in the shower. I imagine her soaping her breasts and I long to kiss down the gentle hallow of her belly. These things aren’t appropriate, but her death isn’t either.”
Whispers ran through the crowd and Marty said, “She tasted like heaven. She was my own slice of perfect happiness. And she’s gone. At this moment, I can’t tell you things will be okay. I can’t tell you she would want us to be strong. I can’t say whether she would want us to celebrate her life, because right now, I can’t see the light through all this dark. I miss her. Not her niceness, not her unwavering kindness, not her ability to cook a gourmet breakfast with three items. No. I miss her. I miss Caylee.”
Tears dropped from his eyes as he moved away from the podium. And the crowd sighed with sadness.