Wednesday, April 30, 2014

30 April 2005 Was Nine Years Ago...

{Fix You -- Coldplay}

On this day, nine years ago, a hole was created in my heart – created by the loss of a person who was many things in my life.  Carrie was my cousin; the only child of my dad’s older brother.  She was six years older than me, and I always looked up to her.  She died of cancer (well, from complications from pneumonia, due to her decreased immunity as a result of Hodgkins and large-cell lymphoma) in 2005.  She was 25, would have turned 26 that August.  The fact that I am three years older than she was at the time of her death… that still blows my mind.  

She would have been my sister-in-law as well, had she lived to see my marry her husband’s brother (ehh, long story short, Jerry and I met at Carrie’s baby shower, before she and Jeff –that would be Jerry’s brother—were married).  But I always thought of her as a sister, anyway.  We were close – we bickered and fought, we told each other secrets, we spent a lot of time together.  She asked me to be her maid of honor when she married Jeff, and I could not have been more proud to stand next to her that day.  She allowed me to be a big part of Lana’s life (since I was always over at her house anyway, hoping Jerry would stop by).  For the short time she was given, she was such a great mommy.  So laid back, yet so fiercely loving and protective.

There are so many wonderful memories I have with Carrie, which I cling to now that she’s gone.
I know I didn’t fully appreciate all these moments at the time, because who could have thought that this vibrant, often abrupt, always friendly and downright amazing woman just wouldn’t be there one day?  I certainly didn’t.  Even after she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma – she called me from work one day frantic and crying; she had a lump in her neck and couldn’t figure out what it was.  I told her to call my mom (because that’s basically my answer for everything) and I went with her for her consultation for surgery to remove it. 

When the news came back that it was cancer, not one person in my family could believe it.  I sat with her at many of her chemo treatments, and went to the doctor with her to talk about radiation.  I don’t think it crossed my mind -- until the day we found out she was in the ICU and wasn’t going to get better -- that she wouldn’t make it.  Even after they told us, I refused to believe it and just knew that some miracle would happen and this nightmare would be over.  But instead of waking up from that horrid dream, we woke up to a phone call that Carrie was gone.  And in that instant, my life changed. 

In some weird way, I feel like she created a lot of the happiness I have now.  At her funeral, among the hundreds of people who attended, was Jerry.  And I think a part of me knew on that day that Carrie brought us back together – I know, I know.  It’s so corny and ridiculous; but I often find myself wondering… what would life be like if Carrie had recovered and was still here?  Would I have married Jerry?  I really don’t know. 

In the days, weeks, and months following Carrie’s death, my entire family seemed completely lost.  My aunt and uncle – their only child was gone.  Being a parent now, I honestly don’t know how they did it.  Carrie was such a big part of all of our lives – I felt so incomplete.  Looking back, I think it would have been even harder if Jerry and I had not gotten back together.  Grieving for Carrie was easier (?) with him because he knew exactly what she had meant to me.  When something I say or do or see reminds me of Carrie, he knows – he gets it.  I’m very grateful for that. 

The one, single, only thing that begins to fill the void Carrie left is her daughter, Lana.  She looks so much like Carrie, sometimes it’s almost unsettling.  She was two (almost three) when her mom died; she will never have any real memories of her, which is tragic and unfair.  But we all try to keep her alive for Lana; to tell her what she was like, to show her how her nose and her smile and her feet are just like her mother’s. 

One of the more selfish feelings of loss I have experienced is that my girls will never knew their Aunt Carrie – she never got to hold them in the hospital like I did with Lana, never got to spoil them and take them shopping.  I never got to see her face when I told her I was pregnant, either time – she never got to watch as Lana held her cousins.  But that’s a whole other can of worms there – the things about Lana’s life that she has missed and will continue to miss… I'm not going to go there.

There are likely a thousand better ways I could have said all of this, but Carrie truly was many things to many people, and the loss of her is felt so deeply, even nine years later.  


  1. Wow Amanda, tears ARE streaming down my face after reading this. Carrie loved you so very much. It is such a tragedy, as you said, even 9 years later. I believe that Carrie is smiling down on all of us and especially you. She sees your sweet girls and what an amazing mother you are, and she loves that you are with Jer. And she sees Lana, beautiful Lana who is her clone in every way. I wish there are some words of wisdom to offer you to make this painful memory go away. Just know that she did love you and she IS in your life, watching over you every day. Love you, Laura

    1. Thanks, Laura. It feels like yesterday and it feels like a whole lifetime ago -- both at the same time.

  2. I just caught up....I can't...

    Love you.