2023 Winner

the words i wish i said

Just one more “I love you.”

One more chance for your weak, cold arms

to wrap around my limp body.


You tried to distract me.

Make me forget that you were leaving soon.


Even at your worst, you made the moments special.

Baking cookies.

Kneading the dough with your shaky hands.




And over again.

“It’s better to do it standing.” You told me,

trying to swallow your tears.


Playing Wii bowling, trying to convince us

you used to be better. When you played on a team.

The jersey now sits in my closet.

Your name embroidered on the right breast.

A bowling ball patch on the left.

Yellow and wrinkled, waiting to be worn.


I tried to braid your hair, but it was too short after you cut it.

My fingers ran across your head,

wondering where the rest had gone.

You told me it was just a ‘new hairstyle’

A smile stretched across my face as I chuckled.

I told you the barber did a bad job.

Why on earth would someone cut their hair like that?

I thought to myself.

You laughed along.

It started to fall out because of chemo,

but you didn’t want me to know that.

Cutting it was faster.

Less painful. For you and for me.


You faked the smile.


You didn’t want me to see you as





Mom called and told me you left.

Pain ended.

You would be happier, she told me.

I knew you were gone, but it didn’t hit me

that you would never come back.

The pain stung.




It was an unfamiliar feeling.

An ever-unsettling feeling.


They tell you it leaves.

The grief.


But they forgot to tell you about the guilt.

I could have called.

Hugged you tighter.

Tried more tears.

Been kinder.

I wish I could tell you one more time,

just how much

I love you.


— the words i wish i said


Vivian Kocsis

The Field School

Grade: 9


Alexandria, VA


Alexandria, VA

Favorite Author or Book:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Dream for the Future:

I believe my purpose in life is to improve the world. Whether that means reforming our government or working with impoverished countries.

Inspirational Figure:

My dad. He is the most loving, hardworking person I know. Everything he does is for his family and he is truly an inspiration to me.