This week has been a rough one emotionally, as it is every year. Twenty-two years ago this week, my beloved cousin, a beautiful blue-eyed, blonde-haired, joy-filled darling, wandered away on her farm and was missing for days before she was recovered from the river running through her family farm's property.
Twenty-two years have passed, and I can still see the week unfolding in slow motion like a silent film.
Once upon a time, I would have nightmares about it, trying to reach out and save her, although none of us knew at the time where she disappeared to. I could never reach her, and she was always lost.
There's something undeniably horrific about losing a child.
Carissa was just a few months past two when she went to be with Jesus.
This year, my darling daughter turns two herself, in less than a month.
I have been trying not to dwell on the significant events of the past since my last posts, but as I mentioned in the post "Littered Dates," it seems they always strike me in some way. Some years more powerfully than others. This year has been harder in regard to Carissa's drowning than most, simply because of Norah.
My beautiful, bubbly, joy-filled (typically), blonde-haired, brown-eyed darling who looks much like my grandmother, and has hair that styles like a troll doll while she sleeps, just like Carissa. My Sweet Pea, who embraces you in whole body bear hugs, just like my cousin would.
My daughter, the wanderer. The free-spirit. The one who loves to sing and dance.
Carissa lived to be two. Norah is almost two. She's almost older than Carissa was.
Now, I don't sit and fear that she's going to disappear like Carissa did, or that I'm going to lose her any day now. That seems irrational, and it's all in God's hands. I trust that he's going to allow me countless more days with each of my children, and I pray diligently in that regard.
But it doesn't mean that somewhere, deep inside, I compare the two, and my heart aches, deeply. It aches for my cousin that none of us were able to watch grow up to become a woman. It aches for my aunt, my uncle, and her sisters. It aches for her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, and the rest of my cousins. It aches for my children and my cousin's children who never got a chance to know her. It aches. And, as hard as I try, sometimes, I still place myself in each of those shoes. I cannot imagine the heartbreaking loss of my own daughter at this age, and I watched my aunt and uncle go through that. I saw it all unfold. And it slays the heart to know it can happen at any time, to anyone.
Tonight, I finally embraced the fact that it has been 22 years this week since we last saw her, and since we said our final goodbyes. I shed some tears, and I held my babies close.
Darling Carissa, you are missed. You touched us all so deeply in your short life here on earth. You were a precious treasure to us all, and you will be forever remembered. Thank you for teaching me so much about love, life, and loss. I wish you hadn't had to go, but I believe that you've lived on and fulfilled a purpose even though you're not walking beside us. I love you.