On January 9, 1992, the world welcomed a beautiful little girl. Her name was Carissa Kay.
Over the next two years, many family and friends grew a deep love for this little girl. She had the craziest blonde hair that you could twist with your fingers and it'd stay that way, standing straight up. She had the most beautiful smile. When you'd hold her, she would latch her legs around your torso and her arms around your shoulders and hold on tight, as if she didn't ever want you to let her go.
She left us, what we feel was way too soon, in 1994, a few months after her 2nd birthday. But, as it seemed she wanted, none of us ever let her go.
It's absolutely incredible to me to think that today would have been my adorable little cousin's 20th birthday. I often sit and wonder, to this day, what kind of child, teenager, and woman she would have become.
I often, also, sit and look back on the times we had with her. She was only a few months older than my younger brother, Bryan, and our family was close knit, so we saw each other very frequently. We all grew up, as cousins, and as friends, almost as brothers and sisters. There was so much love. Of course, there's still so much love, we're just older and spread across the country now.
I wish I had a picture on my computer, or even in my house, to share of Carissa. But, alas, the pictures I had taken of her when I was a child are in my mother's collection.
I try not to dwell on the tragic day that we lost our little angel. Sometimes, I can't help it. I can picture it, vividly, like a movie reel that refuses to be destroyed. I can recall the many days after, the emotions, the faces, the way time seemed to stand still, and how I felt like I was going to throw up for days on end.
I used to have recurring, haunting dreams, where I was trying to save her, and I couldn't. Thankfully, those are no longer.
All day long, I have been thinking of Carissa. She left such an impact on everyone who knew her, I'm certain of it... her parents, her older sister, and even the sister who came years later, especially.
One thing that I'm experiencing this year, on her birthday, more than I had ever thought I would have in the past, is the gut wrenching feeling that my aunt and uncle lost their baby. I have always known it... but now, I look at Spencer, who is 14 months old, and I realize that in Carissa's life, she'd have barely over one-year left to live. I cannot fathom only having that long with Spencer. Now, of course, we didn't know she was going to leave us, and in no way were we prepared. But, how would I handle it if it were me and my baby? I just... I cannot even imagine it. It makes me so overwhelmed with despair.
I've been trying not to dwell on that, though, and instead, to focus on an important lesson that came from Carissa's short life.
Simply, cherish the moments.
I look at Spencer, laughing or crying, today especially, and my heart is overcome with love for my little boy. He's the most beautiful gift that Jake and I have been given, I believe. I am blessed for what little time we've had with him. We'll be blessed again and again, until his time, or ours, has come.
I hope that up in heaven, Carissa is having a joyous day, dancing, laughing, and holding onto God's side as he reminds her how very special, beautiful, and important a young lady she is.