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Sugar Cookies and a Nightmare

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


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Dear Krissie,

The first time I came close to wondering if you were with us in spirit was at your funeral ceremony, when we went back to the ocean a week after your death. There were actually two ceremonies that day: one at the Catholic church for all who wanted to attend, and one at the spot where you were pulled out to sea.

The church ceremony was filled not only with people but with disbelief. Since your body hadn't been found, Krissie, this feeling was intensified. Your Aunt Ree gave me the only sense of connectedness. I held on to her words as she spoke of God, death, children, and in particular you, Krissie. Ree was only 21 at the time and had never spoken before a group. She told me years later that she had been terrified when I asked her to speak, that she had no idea what to say and prayed for courage and guidance. The morning of your service, God's words just flowed through her, comforting us all. She certainly understood God more than I. At that time, I was having a difficult time believing He even existed.

I knew the trip back to Bandon would be a difficult but important closure for all of us. The drive there was gloomy and cloudy. The now-familiar knot in my stomach since you disappeared was even more intense, but I knew we had to do it. When we arrived, the ocean was calm and the sky clear. The once moody and turbulent ocean no longer threatened anyone. Strangely, it seemed to welcome us. Little Krissie, did you have a hand in making it easier for all of us to say our good-byes?

Do you remember that frightening tunnel through the cliff where you had apparently been pulled through? That was completely different, too, even peaceful, because the tide had receded so far out that you could now walk through it. Some people did, but I could not. I walked around it. On the other side was a natural grotto that over time had been carved out by waves. This became the perfect setting for your ceremony.

Your dad and I wanted to have something at your ceremony that was symbolic of you, since we didn't have your body. We decided on a wreath, knowing it would be something you would love. The florist filled it with pink baby roses, carnations, baby's breath, and tons of pink lace and ribbons. Did you like it? We had to go back twice to get it just right. The florist was concerned about overdoing it, but we assured her that that was impossible. When it was finished, we thought it looked just like you, pink and frilly. That is why it was a comfort to me.

The evening before had been difficult. Our close friends invited all the family and Phil, the minister, to their home for dinner. That afternoon, we shared memories of you, which left people much lighter, even happier. I was, too, but shortly after I arrived at their home, something inside me snapped. Everyone was talking and laughing and trying to relax, but I couldn't. I tried to join in the conversations, but when I talked, I felt I was talking to no one. I tried desperately to bridge this gap but couldn't. Fear of the next day, your funeral, isolated me. My precious little one, that was all I could think about.

I began to resent that others were able to put aside their sadness and have this time together. My sorrow and resentment only increased as I felt more and more left out, yet I knew I would never get through the next day without them. I wanted to leave, but I feared being alone.

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