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Sugar Cookies and a Nightmare

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

 

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CHAPTER FIVE: BUBBLE BATH

Or so I thought.

When Barbie told the sheriff that I was on my way, he remained firm. "Carol, he says not to go, and he needs you to answer some questions." Krissie, he wanted a description of a ring you were wearing. This seemed ridiculous. I yelled, "What's so important about a ring? We're wasting precious time! I'm leaving." Again, I was told there was nothing to see.

I could not understand. All I wanted was to hold you one last time. I did not care what part of you was left. I did know you had been wearing a tiny glass stone ring on your right hand. Remember the friendship ring from your friend Tracy? I told Barbie I would answer the questions when I got there and yelled angrily, "How difficult can it be to identify her? How many little brunette girls have drowned up there, anyway?"

To say I resisted bitterly, that I demanded to see you, would be an understatement. There was nowhere to turn. I couldn't accept, no matter how many times they told me, that there was nothing left of you. There was no little brunette girl. There were only a few remains of you and the ring.

I felt powerless and so alone. My prayer to be able to hold you one last time seemed small in comparison to what God was asking of me. How could you, my beautiful little Krissie, be this brutally destroyed? I was prepared for a lot of things should your body be found, but not for a mutilation that would take away my last chance of seeing you. How would I ever have the strength to deal with this? You were so innocent, my fanciful child. The violence of your death was in contrast to all you had been. Barbie shook her head. The sheriff was adamant.

I crumpled to the floor next to Barney, my world dissolving in tears. Holding on to our dear, sympathetic dog, I cried until I thought I would never stop. This was the first time I had truly grieved. Tears I had been holding in all week flooded onto Barney. It was over. It was all over. I would never be able to hold you and tell you good-bye. All week I had been given reasons by others who were trying to make sense of your death, and I was tired of reasons. I did not want to hear any more. All I wanted was you. I could have held on to Barney forever. He never moved. He didn't give me reasons, but for that moment he was my only comfort.

For months after that, in the quiet of the night, horrible visions came to me of your body floating helplessly in the ocean, bashing against rocks and becoming prey to the fish. I would try to reach you and pull you from the ocean but couldn't. And then in my bed I would bolt upright and shake with fear. I kept your little ring on my nightstand, where I could grasp it in both hands and stare at it, saying out loud over and over, "She is not in the ocean. Kristen is dead. They found her. She is not floating helplessly. This is her ring. This is proof. Kristen is no longer in the ocean."

At times my nightmares were replaced by peaceful and loving dreams of a woman who comforted me. Often these were playful dreams in which we'd do different amusing things every night. In one dream, she and I were in a boat, and she reached into the water and grabbed some seaweed and placed it on my head like a wig. We laughed, and then I took it off my head and put it on hers, and we would laugh again. It was not unlike the way you and I would cover each other in bubbles. My feelings for her were like my love for you, which made me wonder if this were you, no longer a little girl. "Krissie," I begged, "please let me know if you're okay. Can I believe my dreams?"

Now, feeling safe in the bubble bath, I gave up trying to control my tears. I didn't care, anyway. Nothing mattered. I lay back in the foamy water, closed my eyes and surrendered to my feelings.

The cold ocean images continued for a while, but then, curiously, I started to feel more relaxed. Cushioned in the warm water, I began to feel that you were with me. We drifted as one in both bath and ocean. It was just the two of us. I had never experienced anything like this before. You and I were connected. You, whom I had carried almost nine months before your birth, were again with me but floating somewhere outside all that I knew. Yes, we were together again, beyond. The wonder of that moment filled me with peace.

As I lay back in the bubbles taking in the beauty of our nearness, I realized that this was the first time since your death that I had felt such an inner comfort. I'm not sure what really happened, Krissie, because you weren't physically there, but you gave me hope for a future without you.

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