In the town where I live, a little girl is dying. Her name is Kaitlyn. My daughter Sarah attended preschool with Kaitlyn, and on the days when I picked Sarah up, I would often find her and Kaitlyn playing together at the swing set, pushing one another in great stomach-fluttering arcs, or in the sandbox, piling pail upon pail of crumbly sand into a kind of replica of a ruined acropolis. They were two vigorous, joyful 4-year-olds, prankish, coltish, giddy, quick to laugh, dance, cry, sing.

Kaitlyn's mother, Bonnie, came to pick her up one day, and something was terribly awry. Bonnie wrote this to me:

Have you ever had a day that you know has changed your life forever, a day that you would do anything to black out, just fast-forward past? February 28, 1997. I arrived at the preschool. Kaitlyn was standing in the playground, looking down at the grass. One of her playmates said several times, "Kaitlyn, your mommy is here." I spoke to her, and there was no reaction, so I approached her and lifted her chin up with my finger. When I did this, I realized something was wrong. Her eyes were vacant, and she had no recognition of me. I immediately called for the preschool teacher. Kaitlyn began to waver. I knelt down beside her and laid her across my lap. The teacher called her name and did other things to get her to respond. Her eyes were open but not focused; they rolled to the right. She remained limp. The ambulance was called. I carried her inside and started to lay her on her side. When I did this, she began to cry and call for mommy. When the paramedics arrived, I was holding her and kissing her and weeping. We were taken to the hospital by ambulance. … I was told she had a seizure but she would be fine. Tests ...
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