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Sugar Cookies and a Nightmare

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


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Seeing the horror in my eyes, your dad said, "I hope to God, Carol, you are not feeling guilty about this." In my numbed state, I had not yet thought about guilt, but those words would later become important. They wouldn't take the guilt away, but because Kristen was your father's child as much as mine, they would make forgiving myself come in time. How often I returned to his words. Later on, as I pieced together the numerous unexplainable occurrences surrounding her death, I became aware of a greater meaning. After examining Kristen's drawings and working with clients' paranormal experiences, I was left with more questions than answers, but little guilt.

We each have to find our own way through grief, but I hope these larger meanings have helped you as well. You haven't shared your thoughts on this, but if you are experiencing even a thread of guilt, I hope they helped to give you a different perspective. I don't know, Michel, if we'll ever have the answers or even if there are any.

Memories remain vivid as I write this letter to you, taking me back to that day. Even as I ran down the beach, screamed silently at the ocean, found a phone and got the Coast Guard, Michel, I thought about you and what you had been through. My God, what you must have been feeling! I knew you were clinging to a fragile hope as well. I'll never forget the look on your face after I got back to the cabin and told you I didn't think they were going to find Krissie alive. You didn't say a word, but I knew you were thinking that they had to find her. Krissie couldn't die. Only hours before, she had been playing on a sand dune. Climbing to the top, you would all tumble down, laughing with sand flying everywhere. I think you kids hiked up that dune a hundred times. How quickly things changed!

The sheriff had arrived. He knew as well as any of us that Krissie was dead, yet there was the paperwork. He needed to talk to all of you children to get an eyewitness report. I had questions for him as well but knew he could not give me the answers I wanted — only the painful reality. How do you tell a mother that her only hope left is the possibility of finding her child's body? Neither the sheriff nor the Coast Guard would say that Kristen was dead. At least not to me. They didn't have to.

When darkness came and the Coast Guard suspended its search, the waves seemed louder than ever against the silence of the cabin. I watched you closely. Extremely quiet, you sat with the other children around the fire and listened to Dave play his guitar. With everyone nestled safely in the cabin as the storm raged, Kristen's absence was even more palpable.

Michel, I couldn't wait for us to get out of there. I wanted to go home, to go to our little place where we could make everything perfect again. I had hoped to leave all of this craziness behind.

That night, I put you to bed with the wish that both of us would wake up to find that this was only a nightmare. But I knew we had to live this nightmare. There was no way I could protect you from the pain that would follow. That afternoon was the last time I would ever hold Kristen and the last time you would ever play together.

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