|Photo of Kitty, posted with permission|
Today I heard the tragic news that a fellow boat mother lost her precious little girl. Off their boat. In the water. At the dock.
They found her body this morning.
I am sobbing as I type this.
She had just celebrated her fifth birthday. She and her family were going to begin their circumnavigation in the next year. One minute she was on the boat, the next she was not.
And a bright, shining star of a child has left this world forever.
And it could have been us.
It very easily could have been us.
It could have been us. It could have been us.
OH MY GOD THIS COULD HAVE BEEN US.
Just the other night Isla went running down the dock ahead of me after dark. I lost sight of her and panicked. In a split second I imagined the horrific scenario of her falling in the water. My heart was racing. The whites of my eyes alive. All this happened in a split second. "ISLA!" I screamed in that panicked pitch that every parent gets when they fear the worst for their child. "ISLA!" I yelled again, louder, my heart thumping hard in my chest as I started down the dock, frantically looking.
And suddenly my little Isla came running into view. Curls bouncing. Eyes shining. Smile beaming.
I got LUCKY.
It could have been us. It could have been Isla.
My fellow boat mom did not get so lucky. Her little girl will not be running into her arms. And my heart is beyond broken. I grieve for this family, for the tremendous pain I can only begin to imagine they are in, for the fact that one minute the world had darling Kitty, and the next she was gone. Tragedies like this don't make sense. They make you question the laws of the Universe. They make you wonder "why". And there are no answers. Just collective grief. Sharing. Talking. Crying it out with loved ones. Community. Love.
An accident. A single, terrible, horrible and tragic accident. And every parent's worst nightmare.
It's just too close to home.
I do not know this family personally, only online through blogging and various sailing groups. But it was very obvious that Kitty was a force. Beautiful, spritely, wise beyond her years and full of spunk. All this was clear in the way her mother wrote about her and evident the pictures she posted. Her images captured a child full of vivacity with a little hint of mischief and a whole lot of sweet. Kitty was deeply, deeply loved by her family. That, too, was obvious. A beacon of light. A happy little girl who brought a hell of a lot of joy to her family.
It could have been us.
What I have learned in all this is perspective. I can hold my daughters tonight. I can wake up to their smiles. I can squeeze and hug and kiss them all over. This is all that matters. Everything else is just noise.
My friend Behan's research tells me that a typical funeral in the USA costs about $10,000. But what no Google search can tell you the many OTHER costs. Like how much wage disruption can hurt a family unable to work while mourning, which the Family and Medical Leave Act won’t do much to help. How the stress of financial strain compounded on grief takes a toll on families. How they need to keep their lives normal, while coming to terms that it will never be the same. If you feel so inclined, please help if you can by contributing to the GoFundMe Page set up for the family by a close friend. Every little bit will help.
Hold your babies close tonight. Say a prayer for Kitty and her family. Light a candle for heaven's new angel. Turn on your anchor light in her honor. Don't speculate. Don't shame. Don't talk about the should'ves, would'ves or could'ves. Show empathy. Put yourself in their shoes. Send light and love out into the Universe. Be grateful. Be kind. For Kitty.