While sitting on my husband's cousin's bed slightly dazed, I looked around the room at the typical teenager guy posters and smattering of displayed sports memorabilia. I snuggled my little baby daughter, often caressing her cute chubby cheeks. She nursed on, completely unaware of the swirling sadness all around her. I couldn't imagine going into the other upstairs bedroom-to be where another sweet girl used to lay her precious head almost every night of her short sixteen years on Earth.
I wasn't alone. My husband's aunt sat nearby me in disbelief and raw sorrow as she talked about how hard this was going to be on the family. She was especially concerned, as we all were, about how her brother- and sister-in-law could go on after the death of their child-their only daughter. With each mention of that word I remember pulling my then only cherished child closer, trying NOT to know what it would be like. I could not comprehend, nor did I want to. How could I? My daughter had only been in my life for six months. We were just starting to get to know one another. I was learning her habits, she was learning my voice. We were in awe of each other, for very different reasons. I was her main source of love, nurturing, and nourishment. She was my new hope, inspiration, and my, well, new everything.
I only met my husband's cousin a few times, but she is the kind of girl who leaves an impression. A fantastic smile, full of life, and unique, gorgeous eyes that you simply would have to see for yourself to understand. My most significant memory of her was when she caught the bouquet at our wedding. Her face bright and proud, as many of my single girlfriends looked on and tried to be polite that a "tweener" had caught the bridal flowers instead of one of the ready-to-finally-get-the-ring young women. I remember laughing inside and thinking, Good for you, girl. Way to go after what you want! I was impressed at her chutzpah (not to mention her cat-like reflexes).
So I sat on the bed of the brother who had just lost his little sister days before, and all I wanted to think about was that great flower catch. At least for that instant. I wanted to bathe in the beauty and wonderful moment she gave me and the wedding guests. Crying tears of joy cradling my own daughter, I also cried tears of pain for someone else's, while I prayed that her parents would be able to both cover and fill themselves to overflowing with the thousands of unforgettable and amazing memories she left for them.