Catalina the Brave (Written March 28, 2017)

Weekdays from eight to three she is like everyone else.

Her best friend is Tucker

Sometimes they climb up the slides together

But only when they think

you can’t see them.


She can spell her name

But only if you remind her what the first letter is.

C — as in Cat.

That’s actually the first three letters of her name

But you aren’t counting.


Monday at lunch she ate the crust

Off the marmalade sandwich her father had forgotten to trim.

You put what snacks she didn’t eat in the filing cabinet.

Storing them like food for winter—

A rainy day drawer of sunshine Sunny D.


That way on Wednesday when she turned to you

And told you she wished she had fruit snacks

You could give them to her.

Daddy sent them special for you. Isn’t he the best?

She was pleased. Your heart somehow felt lighter.


Days passed and suddenly it was the end of that first week

She brought in a build-a-bear

And stood in front of the class, swaying back and forth

Clutching the animal like a shield.

She is a three year old built of enough kisses to last a lifetime.


Together you sat on the bench next to the carpool line.

At your request, she counted how many blue cars drove by.

She kicked her chubby legs back and forth,

Still gripping the teddy bear.

It is pink, like the laces on her light-up Dora sneakers.


Now the color stands for

So much more than it ever did before.

It is the emblem of a battle lost,

A tear-stained teddy stuffed with

The fabric muffled words of a warrior.


Her daddy arrived red-eyed and unshaven

She was the proud owner of his only smile.

In that moment, you thought of the drawer filled with snacks

Of the lopsided pigtails, crust encircled sandwiches

And the build-a-bear stuffed with mommy’s voice.


You wish cancer didn’t exist for Catalina.

                        |Catalina the Brave |