losing jasmine – 10 years later

Today is the 10th anniversary of Jasmine’s death. I am not in the place to go into details for anyone who doesn’t know them, not today, and not after the last 24 hours. It’s a joyous kind of place, though, just too emotional for work. If you’d like to hear her story sometime, let me know. I can share some things I’ve written, or I’m always happy to talk about it. We keep Jasmine with us by telling her stories.

What I do want to share is that she came to visit last night AND I had a no-way-it-was-coincidence experience this morning. Last night I went to bed at about 9:30. It’s been a long week, and I’m tired, and … on the nights Jeff works, I just tend to go to bed earlier. I’d been asleep for a bit when I sensed what I thought was Nina – definitely knew it was my daughter, and she came in the dark to Jeff’s side of the bed and slid in. I remember the height and the lightness of her face in the dark.

I said, “What’s wrong, honey?”

Nina rarely gets into bed with me in the middle of the night, and when she does, it’s related to a nightmare.

There was no answer.

“Nina?”

No answer.

I reached over and turned on the light. There was no one there. Frankly, I was a little freaked out for a few minutes. I KNEW someone had gotten into bed with me, and I knew it was a little girl who I instinctively identified as my own. I turned the light back off and laid there for a few minutes before it occurred to me that it might have been Jasmine. She was, after all, the same age Nina is now when she died, 10. Nina may be a little taller, but in the dark (and with my crappy eyesight) that’s hard to judge. And after I turned the light on, I couldn’t feel the presence at all.

Maybe I scared her away. Or maybe she just couldn’t stay long. But I was convinced enough that it was Jasmine to tell Jeff about it when he got home in the middle of the night.

I had to get up this morning and take something out to our CTE campus. I was kind of in a rush and didn’t stop to think too much about the date or the night before until I was in the car on my way to the campus. When I got there, I wasn’t sure where to go, so I asked a woman in the parking lot who had also just arrived.

As she drew near the car, she saw the “In loving memory of…” sticker that we still have on the back of the Jeep for my dad. We get asked about it a lot up here – these stickers aren’t nearly as common here as they are in Arizona and SoCal. She said, “Oh. Who’s that?”

“My dad,” I said.

“Where’d you get it?”

So I told her that pretty much any shop that does those family stickers and so on could do it, you just needed to ask for it. She smiled and said, “I’d like one. I lost my son in 2008.”

I was stunned for a minute and I’m sure I looked like an idiot when I stared at her. In fact, she probably thought I was having the same reaction most people have when you deliver that bit of news – stunned silence and a frantic internal search for the right thing to say. Well, I had the stunned silence, but it was more because of the day and the timing.

“I lost my daughter 10 years ago today,” I blurted.

She immediately hugged me, a long hug and one of empathy and solidarity. When we pulled back, we smiled a smile you can only understand if you’ve lost a child. “How old was your son?” I asked.

“He’d be 25.”

I said, “Jasmine would be turning 21 in June.”

And we walked off practically arm-in-arm, excited to talk to someone who understands what it’s like. I didn’t have time to really connect, but we agreed the meeting wasn’t accidental. She works on the same campus I do, and we’ll be doing lunch very, very soon.

I prayed on Imbolc, or Brighid’s Day, to feel reconnected with my dad and my daughter. This can’t be an accident.

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