Sylvia Bosma is the mother of three. Her only daughter, Kaitlyn – KK – Cook, died by suicide in 2017, when she was 14 years old. Sylvia got through the initial months of crushing grief by having to care for her youngest son, who has Down syndrome. Finding her community; support groups such as The Compassionate Friends; counseling; time in nature; and words – books, podcasts, journaling, storytelling – are what has helped her get to where she can offer hope to those early in their grief. Sylvia lives in Tampa, Florida with her family, the search for her new identity and purpose a work in progress.

A few weeks ago I mentioned to a friend of mine that I wanted to see the Barbie movie. “You?”, she wondered. ”I did not think it’s a movie you would want to see.” I said I was curious, wanted to know what the hype was all about. So the four of us went to see it. And I really liked it. One of my favorite characters was Weird Barbie. I used to have one, probably have a picture of her somewhere. Thinking about this brought my thoughts to KK and her version of Weird Barbie.

I never really liked the color pink. When I was pregnant with KK, I made sure everyone knew not to get anything pink. Kaitlyn was not a girly girl, and grew up not having a real affinity for the color either. If she had on anything pink, it had some kind of animal on it. She did not play with dolls, other than Dora the Explorer. Her vast collection of stuffed animals kept her occupied. And LPS, of course. Short for Littlest Pet Shop, Hasbro had created an entire world of cute little plastic pets. Naturally, as is customary in our world of consumerism, those adorable little creatures needed a place to live, work, play, get a spa treatment, or even fly around the globe. You name it and Hasbro had it on the market before you could blink. Long wish lists were created for birthdays and Christmas (kids), pocket money spent on the latest pets and accessories (kids), collectibles added to watch lists on eBay (parents).

In 2009 KK scored tons of LPS for Christmas. She played with all of them, all the time. They ignited her creativity. Naturally this included altering their appearances to suit her ideas, with the aid of nail polish, markers, anything that helped achieve the desired effect.

The other day I found a box with her LPS pets. I had donated the larger pieces when we moved in 2018, but kept the little ones, to sort through at a later time. I tried sorting through them, but each time I picked one up, another memory resurfaced. I sighed and put the lid back on. Perhaps it still wasn’t the right time. Perhaps they needed to stay in the box a little longer.

Except for the three that sit by her photo. Unbeknownst to me, Kaitlyn had taken three little kittens on our European trip in 2016. When we returned home, she forgot to take them out of the luggage I had borrowed from friends. I returned the luggage, and the kitties were not seen again, their existence forgotten. Until my friend got in touch with me a few months after KK’s death. They were getting ready to go on a trip and found the three little stowaways tucked in the suitcase where KK had left them. They are now in a spot where I see them every day. They remind me of our trip, and it makes me smile. Oh, and if you look closely at the one in the back, you might spot KK’s handiwork.

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