‘We were cleaning out her desk and found two sealed envelopes. I ripped the bandaid off.’: Bereaved mom finds Valentine’s notes from late daughter, ‘Her heart was pure gold’

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This is a follow-up story to Shannon’s ongoing grief journey. To read the full back story please click here.

“It has been a minute since my last writing because I haven’t had much to say. We passed the two-month anniversary of Kinsley’s death on the 14th and it has felt like an eternity without her. We experienced our first holiday without her. Coming up is the 2nd birthday of one of her sisters who she will not be here for. While those days are significant and will hurt along with all the milestones of ‘first’ throughout this entire year, it is the every day that is more painful for me. Every day I wake up it feels wrong. Something always feels missing.

Courtesy of Shannon Sandvik

Kinsley was an early riser, like me and like my mom. I always enjoy my morning coffee while the house is still peaceful and quiet. I could always tell when she woke up because she was never quiet and would literally jump from her bunk bed. She wrapped her blanket around her because for as long as I can remember, Kinsley never wore clothes to bed, just little underwear. She would come downstairs, her muscular, tiny body wrapped in her comfy blanket, and sit next to me on the couch with her head on my shoulder while I drank my coffee. It was our special time, and the only time that child ever actually sat down. The moment was always short-lived, but it was enough to mean something. I miss that.

Anyone who has ever heard Kinsley talk would agree with me that she had the cutest voice. Not the voice of an angel, because she was a terrible singer and we all made fun of her but a cute voice where so much of her personality exuded through it, very animated and entertaining. She loved the song ‘Meant to Be’ by Florida Georgia Line and every time Bebe Rexa’s part would come on, Jordan and I would get to laughing because she sucked. But she knew every word and would sing at her max volume. There was another time she was in the backseat singing along to Sam Hunt’s song ‘Body Like a Back Road’ and she got to the part in the song where it says ‘driving with my eyes closed.’ She was singing with so much emotion at the top of her lungs, ‘driving with my as*hole.’ Jordan and I were laughing so hard, we were crying. Her cute little voice, with so much personality, I miss that.

And then there were her sweet ‘noots’ she would always write to us, bad spelling and all. I mentioned before, school was not her strength. Kinsley was our difficult child, always pushing the limits, testing the waters, very strong-willed. She would always get in trouble and have to go to her room. Jordan and I would be sitting on the couch and she would fling crumbled up apology notes down the steps, enough to make us laugh, and then we would let her out. She never held a grudge. She would get yelled at one minute, then hug her father and tell him she loved him in the next minute. Her heart was pure, it was gold. She was always thinking of someone else and doing nice things for them, only if you didn’t annoy her and that lasted maybe 2 minutes.

Courtesy of Shannon Sandvik

Kinsley passed on Valentine’s Day. Very shortly after that, we had to go through her room and do some room changes to accommodate the other children’s feelings. I wasn’t ready to go through her room, just four days after her death but I kept thinking about Ava and knew she didn’t want to be down there in a room she used to share with Kinsley by herself. So I ripped the bandaid off, drank my vodka, and just did it. Turns out, I’m glad I did. We were cleaning out her desk and found two sealed envelopes. We opened them up and they were Valentine’s Day notes for Jordan and I from Kinsley. She had made those for us before Valentine’s Day and in those notes, she let us know we are great parents, always there for her, and how much she loved us, ending with ‘Happy Valentine’s Day.’ Those words from her were so powerful to read at that particular time. Her notes and kind heart, I miss that.

Courtesy of Shannon Sandvik

She was fearless, and thrived off of adrenaline, enough to scare the sh*t out of me all the time. She always wanted to go on the roller coasters, the upside-down rides at the beach, drive her 4-wheeler full throttle around Poppy’s yard, not a clue what she was doing, tearing up the grass. When she was four, she learned to ride a bike without training wheels, and it turns out she didn’t know how to use the brakes. She flipped over her handlebars and went flying. She was the first of the kids to jump off the high dive at indoor pool and the only one to do flips without even thinking first that she didn’t know how to do a flip.

She would spend a lot of time at Lacey’s. She and Nick were a lot alike. One late evening, I got a video of Nick and Kinsley going on the sling-shot in Ocean City and a picture of both of them in line to do it again. There was another time, I got a text message saying Doug let her drive the go-cart full force down their street with Jayde in the passenger seat and didn’t realize she was only 6. Doug was chasing after her down the street trying to stop them. She was fearless, I miss that.

Courtesy of Shannon Sandvik

Anything physical, she was good at. She was talented, to say the least, and always wanted to try something new. Her mindset was that of someone who was going to do great things. If she couldn’t do something, she would practice until she could. She definitely got that from me. She started soccer when she was 4 and thrived off scoring goals. I have a video of her first game ever. She runs down the field, passing everyone with the ball and scores. She always looked back for Jordan and me to see us screaming for her. Her face lit up every time she scored.

She worked hard at practice, never complained about going 4 days a week with games on the weekend. She played lacrosse at the same time and was good at that too. I would watch them run laps around Kellum field and to her, everything was a competition. She had to be the fastest. One winter, she wanted to try basketball.

Courtesy of Shannon Sandvik

This child had no idea how to play basketball and had probably never even watched a game but I signed her up because she insisted. I took her to her first practice and she looked at me with tears in her eyes, nervous she said, ‘Mommy, I don’t know what to do, I don’t want to do this.’ I said, ‘Boo, that’s why you are here. They will teach you.’ She turned around and ran onto the court with her basketball and never looked back. She only did gymnastics this past fall, to be with Ava. She loved being with Ava. Right before she died, she had tried jujitsu for two weeks and was in love with that too. Nothing she tried was worth giving up soccer for. To say the least, we were always so proud of her for being brave and trying new things. We knew no matter what she chose to do with her life, one day she would go to college, not because of her grades in school but because of a scholarship to play soccer. Watching her awesomeness in action, the weekly practices, spending weekends at the fields watching her do what she does best, I miss that.

Courtesy of Shannon Sandvik

It seems like an eternity without her. I miss her something so fierce, my stomach drops every single time a memory or vision of her pops up. Yet, I want to talk about her, see photos, and watch videos of her, even though it makes me sick. All I can think about is how am I supposed to do every day for the rest of my life without her? I don’t want to, seems to be the bigger issue. My morning time with Kinsley, her sweet voice, her ‘noots,’ her fearlessness, keeping me on my toes, her sports, I miss all of these things, I miss all of her.”

Courtesy of Shannon Sandvik

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Shannon Sandvik. Follow her journey on her website here and Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories from Shannon here: 

‘Her eyes looked up at me in panic. ‘Mommy, it’s blood.’ We were just in the ER and everything said she was fine. My stomach about hit the floor.’: Family says goodbye to their ‘forever Valentine’ after battle with flu

‘We were at dinner when I said, ‘Hell, give me another drink. I may take up smoking too.’ Kinsley was as healthy as a horse and in a week span, she was dead.’: Mom loses daughter unexpectedly to flu

‘She constantly pissed us off. Lord, did she stir up drama. Now, I’m pissed there will always be an empty seat. The family dynamic has been rocked.’: Mom continues to make memories after daughter’s passing, ‘We are going to find something to smile about’

‘Be grateful all of them are in one house alive and healthy, because mine aren’t. The fighting used to annoy me. Now, I’m glad they’re even here to fight.’: Mom says ‘they will remember what you do during this quarantine’

‘We won’t get to take fireball shots together when she turns 21. She’ll never get to drive the red jeep with no doors that she wanted. We were robbed.’: After losing daughter to flu, mom is reminded that ‘love is permanent’

‘Ms. Kinsley, we’re gonna get you cleaned up now.’ It was time to turn off her machine. My husband leaned in to hug them, tears streaming down his face.’ Woman thanks nurses and doctors for their ‘selflessness’ during daughter’s final moments

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