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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 summer before you were to live with your dad was an important time for us. We spent the whole three months together traveling and doing whatever we liked. I sold our van because I felt we needed some fun in our lives and bought a very used red VW convertible. We packed up that little toy car, and with the stereo blasting away and the wind blowing through our hair, we hit the road. Wasn't that the best? What a sight we must have been, traveling along with Barney in the back, holding his head high and loving the wind on his face. We were in the front with our hats and sunglasses, singing to the music. Many people would beep and wave as they passed by. I enjoyed that summer because we had no place we had to be, and I just wanted to play with you.

We drove from Oregon to Washington, visiting family and friends, and then motored down to California to stay with your Aunt Barbie and cousin Casey. You met new friends while we stayed there. We spent time at Great America and Marine World and in general just did whatever we felt like doing. As predicted, the summer went fast.

With mixed emotions, I delivered you to your father. I knew that it would be good for you to live with your dad once again. You had not done this since our divorce. My first visit with you was about a month later, and you and Barney were now settled into your new home with your dad and Suzie. You would be having a new baby brother in a few months, and your dad and Suzie were devoted to you.

While I knew this was best for you, I felt a double loss. In a year's time, my most fulfilling role, as a mother of two children, had vanished. I wasn't prepared to give you up. This new arrangement was difficult for you as well. When I first visited you at your dad's, you didn't want to see me. You were happy to be with your dad but angry at me for leaving. You had had enough change.

Your father and I had lots of brothers and sisters, and you wanted that, too. With your new brother on the way, your dad was now able to offer you that family. He and Suzie made it clear to me that if you stayed with them, I could continue to be as involved with you as I wanted. I needed to hear that. How wonderful that you did stay, and that you now have two brothers and a sister.

I knew that I did not want to have more children. For some unexplained reason, the summer before Kristen's death I gave serious thought to this. I knew that if something happened to either of you and I had another child, I would have just that: another child. This was an easy decision for me. I didn't want other children. I only wanted you and Krissie.

That November, we planned to meet back at Bandon for the one-year anniversary of Krissie's death. Going back seemed important. Our friends who had been with us the day she drowned also needed to return and bring all their children. We hoped that coming back together as a group would give all of us the necessary emotional support.

On the drive back to Bandon, I was understandably quiet. Bob, who would become your stepfather six months later, came with us. This was his first trip there and his first time meeting many of these friends. He fit in immediately. When I was at Elisabeth's center, I had gone through a great deal of grief work. I knew that going back to Bandon would challenge this new strength. I didn't want to feel that helplessness again, and I was concerned for you. We needed to do this. Feeling the helplessness again was a chance I'd have to take.

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