55: Kadie

55: Kadie

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven


When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

~Kahlil Gibran

I woke up that Tuesday with an inexplicable sense of knowing. I wanted to ignore the feeling so I went about my day as planned. But when the song came on the radio, I couldn’t pretend. I knew it would happen that day.

Kadie was my cousin. We had the same heart condition: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The condition had been in our family for years. When I was diagnosed at thirteen, Kadie and her sister Liz helped me through it. They helped me realize it was okay to have this condition. We could do anything anyone else could — we just had to do it in a different way. We were part of a club. I knew that as long as they were there with me, this condition would not define me.

Kadie had been in and out of the hospital for months. She had received a heart transplant a few years earlier, and for a while it seemed as if everything would be okay. But as time wore on, she worsened. The week before she died she went into cardiac arrest while at a spa with her mother.

That morning when I heard “If I Die Young” play on my radio, I knew it wasn’t a random song — it was a message. There was nothing to do but wait for the phone call.

That night I went to the weekly workout with my stunt team. My mother knew I would not be able to answer the phone, so if it happened while I was there I would get the news via text message. Halfway through the workout I took a break and checked my phone. There were two words in the message bubble: “she’s gone.” I silently handed my sword to my partner and ran for the door.

The rest of the night was blurry. I kept thinking of Kadie’s mother, father and sister. And I kept wishing I could have said goodbye to her. I lived in Los Angeles and she lived in Mississippi. I was going home to visit in a week, and had hoped I would make it in time to see her.

As I got ready for bed, memories of Kadie filled my head. I went over and over what I would have said to her if I had seen her one last time. Nothing seemed to express how much I loved her, and how much I would miss her. When I finally drifted to sleep, I had a dream. I was in a gorgeous bedroom sitting beside Kadie in a bed. She was beautiful, laughing and happy. Her mother was sitting on the other side of the bed. She excused herself for a moment and left the room. When she was gone Kadie turned to me, looked into my eyes and said, “I’m sorry I could not wait for you, I had to go.” With that I woke up.

Just as I knew the song on the radio that morning was not just a song, the dream I had of Kadie was not just a dream. She came to see me that night, to let me know everything was okay. As hard as it is to accept and as clichéd as it sounds, I know she is in a better place. Kadie’s heart condition made it impossible for her to do certain things in this life, things that she can do now she is in heaven. Now she can run and not be weary, now she can walk and not faint.

~Chelsey Colleen Hankins

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