On December 28, 2004, I hugged my daughters goodbye as a boarded a plan to leave the country for four months. It was the to see a part the world that I otherwise would not ever be able to experience, and I was doing on the government's dime. I had no idea that hug would be the last one I was to ever receive from my youngest child.
Ten years ago today, January 27, 2005, at 4 years-11 weeks- 5 days old,
my daughter suffered a non-fatal drowning at the hands of the inept YMCA
staff. Non-fatal you ask? Yes, she survived - she is alive. However,
her brain suffered a traumatic injury from being without oxygen for
more than 4 minutes. She will never be the same.
If I had known I'd lose her 31 days later, would I still have gone?
Hell no. I would have spent every moment of every day of that last
month with her, loving her, hugging her, and enjoying her company and
her amazing personality.
She learned to ride a bike at age 3 and was fortunate to have seen Disney World twice. She was born in San Antonio, Texas and had already
traveled much of this country, and some of Canada and some of Mexico,
before she turned 4. There is so much I would love to share about her,
but there isn't the time or the space here.
She smiled almost all the time and rarely fought with us or with her
sister. She didn't throw many tantrums. She was happy and everyone
Some people say we have it made because we won the law suit against the
YMCA and received a settlement, that was put into a trust, for all of
Mackenzie's future needs. I want them to know that the money in no way
replaces the companionship of my child. Would you trade a beloved
child for the trip of a lifetime or a large sum of money (or any sum of
money)? Not me -I would give everything I am and everything I have, to
make her whole again- to hear her speak to me, to return a hug, to enjoy
her personality. Don't get me wrong, I still love her with all my
heart, but at the same time, I miss her immensely.
I cherish the rare smile, and the even more rare laugh not only
because it reminds of the child she had been, but also because, for a
short while I know that she is happy.
People have told me
that I could never understand the loss of a child. Maybe they are
right. But they will never understand the pain of looking into the eyes
of a child you once knew, day after day on end, and seeing no
recognition in return. She rarely even makes eye contact. It is true
that my daughter did not die, but is it also true that I don't
understand the loss of a child?
Everything I do, I do without the acknowledgement that she evens knows who I am.
She is my child, I love her, I brought her into this world, and I will see her through this for as long as I am able.