I have been dreading getting caught up in blogging because I knew this post was coming and I just wasn't quite ready to write it all out. I am still not ready to write everything I have been thinking and feeling, but it will come. Until then, here is the truncated version of events.
For the girls' birthday party I suggested that they ask their friends to bring books and blankets for the Primary Children's Medical Center instead of presents for them. To my surprise and delight, they agreed with enthusiasm. They loved the idea. Their friends were very generous and we had a lot of wonderful things to bring to the hospital. We were unable to do so until March 14th. I picked up Emma from school and we went to play at the zoo until Ross was off work.
He met us there and we looked at some of the animals and then headed over to the hospital to give them our donations, which were gladly accepted. Ross was a little too fast for me to get a good picture, so we had a mini-shoot in front of the fun, painted horse.
After this we went down the street to Zupas for dinner. My mom called me during dinner, but I couldn't dig my phone out of my purse fast enough but I figured she would leave a message or call me back later if it was important.
When we were running out to the parking lot, I was getting in Ross's car and he was going to drive the van with the kids. We made plans to stop at the ice cream shop on the way home. My mom called again, and I knew something terrible had happened. I didn't know what, but I just had that awful feeling that warned me to brace myself before I answered.
Me: Hey, what's up?
Mom: I just want you to know what's going on even though I don't have all the information yet (stomach tightening like crazy) but Lara (my aunt) had the kids at a park and Garrett fell in the river (Commence silent sobbing). Madison jumped in and got him out and he is fine (huge relief and relaxation)... and now they can't find Madison.
Me: stunned silence-- so eloquent.
Me: (finally able to speak) what? (yes, I am a writer by trade...)
My poor mother explained again what I already knew while hiding in the back of the High School auditorium while my little sister was in a concert all so it could buy me some time to process and respond. At that point they had not been able to reach my grandparents yet, so my mom asked me to help them try and reach them. We did, and it was awful trying to explain what was going on. We hung out in the parking lot at Zupas for a bit while we waited for more info and while I tried to calm down enough to drive.
We got an update during that time that said her body had been found and that she was dead. The truth is that wasn't the case and we had been given a false report, but I have to say that I am grateful for whatever mistake had been made in that communication because it gave me a peace and comfort. I know that Jay and Lara and some other family members spent that night in a painful state of hope and despair knowing that it was almost sure that their daughter had perished, but still clinging to that remote chance that she had gotten out somewhere and would be found.
Once we got that report that later proved to be false (her body wasn't found until late afternoon the next day) I was able to settle down. It is strange, but when I am faced with struggles, it is confusion and lack of knowledge that hits me the hardest. When I know the situation and I know what to pray for I feel stronger and better able to withstand. I took no pleasure in knowing my amazing cousin had passed away, but it was somehow simpler to face with the knowledge she had passed on, even if that knowledge was based on a false report at the time.
I drove the whole lonely way to the promised ice cream shop in Ross's car and was so distracted that I got off a couple of exits early and had to wind my way back through frontage roads in unfamiliar areas. The entire time I was praying for Jay and Lara and their kids, and I even had a nice little chat with Madison about how proud I was of her for her bravery and love and how much I would miss her. They have been living in South Dakota while Jay gets his Masters and we have missed them all so much.
It was a hard night.
I have a testimony of the gospel and the Resurrection and I know that Madison is in a better place. She is happy and she is beautiful and she is free from the Earthly constraints of her body and of Aspergers Syndrome that had been making life so frustrating for her for so long. I knew all of that, and I know it still, but it was still a hard night.
Every time I would calm down I would think about Jay and Lara and the pain they were undoubtedly feeling and the tears would start up all over again. I can't even imagine. There is no worse fear of mine than losing a child, and I was watching this horrible nightmare play out with two people I love dearly without any way to help them but to pray.
So I prayed.
I prayed and I cried and I went on with our lives because as nice as it would be for the world to stop and slow down when personal tragedy strikes, it just doesn't.
The next weeks consisted of strange surges of happiness, peace, depression, and confusion as we tried to do what we could to help in any way- which led us into some unfamiliar and strikingly uncomfortable territories.
As I post about our happenings over those days, please be kind and patient. I want to record everything that happened and what we did because it was so important and because this is a record of our lives, but I hesitate to do so in such a public forum where I have been criticized in the past for the choices I have made in what to share and divulge. Please know that I have prayed about what to share and what to hold back, and that everything I post will be the things I feel are important to be remembered.