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Sugar Cookies and a Nightmare

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


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Krissie, I went through every possible scenario. Our VW van, often mechanically challenged, had just been serviced; Barney was staying with our good friend Brian; and I was caught up with my studies. Finding no clear reason, I woke you and Michel the next morning, and we got dressed and left. I know now that there are more than practical reasons for having feelings.

What if I had given in to that feeling and not gone? Or was it "your time" and not for me to know? So many things have puzzled me since your death, but no answers will bring you back. Your death sent all of us reeling into a nightmare we would have to survive.

You would be very proud of Michel. He was always your hero, and now he's become an anesthesiologist. He will stand apart in that profession because he knows loss firsthand. The pain of losing you made him more sensitive and appreciative of the importance of acknowledging emotional pain — not just the physical. His patients are lucky to have him. One of the reasons he even wanted to be a physician like your father is because of your death. We were determined to make something precious and positive out of your passing. That is, after all, what you are to us.

You're still his pal, Krissie. Unlike me, who will always see you as seven, he has been able to imagine you as a teenager and even a young adult, but he still wonders, like me, what you'd be doing. Keep your love close to him, and if you can, help him with the challenging road he's chosen.

Your death was a real black-and-white incident for me. Before, when going through painful situations, including my divorce, I was able to find answers and ways to rebuild my life. This was different. I knew that your death either would be my greatest growth experience or would be my destruction. There was no in-between. I knew that if I ever made it through, I wanted to help others. Well, Krissie, I guess I made it through, because I became a psychologist specializing in crisis and loss issues.

There are fewer times now when my heart feels heavy and my limbs feel weak. I've accepted that on your birthday, I might always experience that strange combination of joy and sorrow. The most difficult time for me is on your death day. My insides scream with pain, but unlike the joyous wrenching pain I felt with your birth. Releasing you again, this time to death, is quieter, yet more profound. I have surrendered to that pain, trusting myself to face the fact that the truth has allowed me to live a more full and joyful life.

Kristen, I know you know that I remarried. Bob has been a special part of my life as well as Michel's. He's never tried to be a father to Michel because you and Michel already have a great father. He's instead tried to be a trusting mentor and friend, someone else whom Michel can turn to for love, support, and advice. Bob would have done the same for you.

I feel lucky, Krissie, because Bob and Michel have formed a close relationship over the years. Bob respects Michel, and I know Michel feels the same.

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