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Sugar Cookies and a Nightmare

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


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Thinking I would be just as miserable out of the bath as in, I decided to stay and began to play with the bubbles. I piled them around me and on me, on my head and around my face until I was completely covered. Krissie, we used to do this. We'd bury each other in bubbles and think it was so funny. It made me laugh just thinking about it.

I then imagined you sitting at the other end of the bathtub, splashing in the water and sliding above and below the bubbles. You would bob up and down like a little seal. You loved the water. These thoughts reminded me of watching you play in the swimming pool for hours, wearing the swim vest that protected you over your brand new swimsuit. The irony of your love of water, the cruel unfairness of it all, hit me again and again. I kept trying to have good memories of you, but they were beaten down by the sickening image of you fighting for your life.

In the bath, I reached for your tiny beaded necklace that I now wore around my neck. You made this necklace yourself out of multicolored beads about a month before you died. Your Raggedy Ann towel still hung near the tub. Your little animal soaps, shampoo — everything once a part of you now echoed that you were gone. Krissie, you were a part of me, a part of us. We couldn't go on without you. We didn't want to.

Ordinarily I would have left the bubble bath, realizing it was impossible to enjoy while images of your last moments kept returning. But then another thought surfaced. I decided a bath was as safe a place as any to feel the pain. Defeated, I laid my head back, closed my eyes, and tried to stop my tears. They came anyway.

If you had been with me, I would have told you a story. It's about a girl named Persephone who was playing with her friends in a beautiful meadow a very long time ago. Her mother loved her very much and was happy to see Persephone enjoying the sunshine and dancing in the meadow. (I picture her twirling about in the kinds of scarves and jewelry your aunties gave you which you'd wear daily as you danced around the house.)

Then suddenly a force like the rogue wave that swept you away burst out of the ground and snatched Persephone from the meadow. This force was in the shape of a man called Hades, and he made Persephone live in his underground kingdom, where everything was so dark and dank that he called it the Land of the Dead.

Persephone's mother was horrified. She felt lost without Persephone and went to the king to ask for help. With his superpowers he found Persephone, but Hades insisted on a deal. He would release Persephone for only half of every year, meaning that for six months she would stay in the dark underground, and for six months she would play in the sunshine at the meadow.

So every year, from then on, her mother was joyful when Persephone came up to the Land of the Living, but sad and despairing when Persephone had to go back to the Land of the Dead. (When I thought about my life without you forever, I envied Persephone's mother.)

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