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Sunflowers are nice in theory. Personally, I’ve never liked them because they seem a lot less flower and a lot more weed, and a lot less petal and a lot more seed, and there’s a lot more sunshine associated than actually perceived but…

If you’ve ever had a friend die… then you know how important what they loved becomes

And Katie loved sunflowers. She loved a lot– in fact, I was the first one to nickname her Kate, cause in the seventh grade, Kaitlin wanted a new slate, and it just seemed so much cooler.

And she was my, “Asian sister from another mister,” meaning she was my baby sister, because she was the only friend I was older than. And Christmas was always extra special in her house, because both her and her older brother were born on Christmas Eve,

And at some point, we decided we should leave high school, and start our own fashion line, but not before getting banquet dates for the first time, stealing popularity, partners in crime…

But after a while, the plans stopped because Katie stopped coming to school… for a week. For a month. For a year.

And I never visited her in the hospital.

Because my prayers visited… and vested her chest with a bulletproof, cancerless rest ahat would protect her, even from her dreams..

And I never visited. Because we all knew she was coming back, so we cut her some slack, and made wrist bands that said, “The power of prayer, keep strong Kaitlin Pham”

And Katie loved sunflowers. So twenty-four days after her fifteenth birthday, when I walked into the chapel, they were everywhere, on the table, on the mantel, in the vases, and even in the programs.

I wore mirror aviators to mirror the emotion of those around me because my thoughts laid in a place too dark for reflection, reflecting upon her mother repeating

“I should not be burying my baby,

I should not be burying my baby,

I should not be burying my baby.”

Imaging, my class graduating and her parents receiving an empty diploma, her brother always celebrating his birthday alone-a family of four now standing on three legs, a home now a house never seeing an end to its days…

After the funeral, I walked home alone, allowing my mind to roam, until I walked into my bathroom and looked in the mirror and accused you–

Because you should’ve done something. You should’ve visited. You should have called. You said you were her friend. You prayed too little. You hoped too little. And you didn’t trust God enough.

I collapsed, In a heap on my sink and cried out, “God! It shoulda been me!”

Cause I would’ve taken the bullet for her if I could, but how could I when the bullet was her blood, and the fragments were her bone marrow, and the gun was being dissolved inside of her body, how could I pick up the casings?!

“God, if you kill me now, could I take her place?”

And I paced, my mind raced, so my thoughts sprinted until I came face to face with that mirror image, and I heard God whisper,

“Look in your eyes.”

Unfocused, Bloodshot, Dilated…

I saw something I’ve never seen before.

See the top part of my iris is green, and the bottom part is grey, but for the first time, I saw an amber ring encircling my pupil that shot out like fire at every angle

And it







Two sunflowers, staring back at me. And maybe I only imaged it, but Katie loved sunflowers.


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