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Sugar Cookies and a Nightmare

How My Daughter's Death Taught Me
The Meaning of Life


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The next morning, Krissie, when my friend and I had breakfast at a restaurant, the strangest thing happened. Waiting at the cashier's counter to pay for our meals, I began looking through the large display of postcards. Bandon was a tourist town, and the wall was full of postcards of the Oregon coast. For some reason, I focused on one particular postcard of a place called Whiskey Run, Oregon. I had no intention of buying a card, but I pulled it from the rack anyway and asked the cashier where Whiskey Run was located. She said it was about five miles north on the Oregon coast. Puzzled, I returned the card to its place on the rack. What did I care about Whiskey Run, Oregon? However, when they found your body a few days later, I asked the sheriff about the location, and his answer stunned me. "Whiskey Run, Oregon. Do you know where that is?"

To this day, I'm not often comfortable at an ocean. For most people, the splendor of waves breaking on a beach creates a hypnotic spell that lulls and relaxes. As you know, I once found comfort in the ocean as well. You, Michel, and I had lots of great times there. The infinite parade of waves has continued for millions of years and never missed a beat, even with your death. This rhythm of nature is something we depend on as much as the sun and the moon and the stars. Yet that one wave at that one particular point in time changed my life forever. Beautiful Krissie, you're gone forever. Nothing could stop the inexorable

I often find myself watching the waves go out instead of come in, but I have been able to reach beyond my pain to again appreciate the beauty of an ocean. I'm writing this from our little cottage on the shore of Tomales Bay. You'd love it here. Across the bay is a long, elegant finger of land known as the Point Reyes Peninsula, a part of the Point Reyes National Seashore that divides the bay from the Pacific Ocean, just on the other side. The peninsula serves as a barrier, forming the bay and shielding our treasured retreat from the sounds of the ocean's waves. Here I can once again enjoy the ever-changing wonders of a saltwater world. The bay waves, unlike the ocean waves, soothe me as they gently lap at the shore and the pilings beneath the cottage.

Krissie, I knew that, like the waves, life would continue, and somehow we'd need to go on without you. There was no other choice. At first I didn't know where to begin. I felt you had been so cheated by death. You would never experience a beautiful prom, travel to exotic places, dance under a full moon, or fall in love.

I truly believe now that an afterlife exists. And I believe as well that you are okay. Raised Catholic, I had always heard of heaven, but with your death I became the doubting Thomas. I prayed for proof because I knew I could never release you without it.

I think you were trying to reassure me the night I returned from a weekend grief workshop. I had hoped that by the end of the workshop, I would feel better, but instead I felt worse. My expectations probably had been unrealistic, but I was sick of the pain. I wanted answers to where and how you were. A minister had given the workshop. Wasn't he supposed to have answers?

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