I look at the pictures of Emerson. She is sooooo beautiful. I can tell you when everyone was taken, where we were, what we were doing. I remember how it felt. There is one of us camping this past fall. It was unseasonably cold. We are lying in one of those zero gravity chairs, we both have on our vests, I know what her weight felt like lying along my body, I know the warmth of her cheek on my lips in the cold air. We were snuggling to stay warm. I remember the moment exactly. That weekend we all had puffy vests with us. We would line them up on the hook just inside the cabin. Five vests, one for each of us. MY FAMILY. Em thought she was totally cool, popping on her vest like everyone else, she totally was.
There is another one, just from a couple months ago. We are at a friends daughters birthday party. She was so cool that day, hanging out, coloring with the bigger kids, enjoying her cake and ice cream. I remember leaving the party. I had taken them alone. I lined the girls up at the door then set them loose. The three of them marched to the car together, my little tribe. All of them looking out for the other. They were so perfect, I was so proud.
The one in the tub, the soap mohawk, that was literally taken a couple days before this nightmare happened. She was all smiles in the tub, she is glowing. I remember that Reese got out of the tub first. Emmie immediately would stretch her little body the length of the tub and practice her back floats. "I floating, I floating!". They say that is a very vulnerable position for a child to be in in water. It scares them to be on their back, not my girl, she just wanted to be like her sisters. I could not wait to take her in the pool this summer. She watched everything they did, and filed it away, she waited to show she could do it too. She was so smart.
There are a million more. I look at all the pictures of our family, I think of taking new ones this Fall, with the new baby. How do you get over the feeling that this is going to happen again. That every picture you take is in preparation for a painful memorial, a reminder of what was. My child was not sick and now she is gone. Why will any of the others live. There is no explanation, I have no way of ever feeling safe or even "ok" again. There is truly no way to keep them safe. I could do everything right and have something like this happen. After a life of fearing my moms cancer. Of carrying that around like a million pound weight, now I have this. AN invisible monster, it took what I needed most in the world and I can not see it, can not name it, how do I keep any of us safe?