This is somehow therapeutic for me. This blog serves as my family's history - and she is a part of that.
It has been almost four years since we met.
It has been almost nine months since she went back to work and begn a messy divorce.
It has been four and a half months since she called me in the middle of the night telling me her son Lincoln's age was on our doorstep so she could take her other son to the hospital since he was having a hard time breathing. No questions, no explanations, and that was the way it should be.
It has been since the end of March that she really started to feel like the world was caving in on her.
It has been 10 days since I hugged her as she wished me a happy birthday and handed me a package delivered to her house since I was gone.
It has been 7 days since I emailed her.
It has been 7 days since she emailed me back telling me her schedule and saying she would be in touch. Instead of her signature "Keep smiling" sign off, it was "Love you."
It has been 7 days since I dismissed concerns in my head.
It has been 7 days since she died.
It has been 6 days since a friend she was supposed to meet called police when she didn't show up.
It has been 6 days since I pulled into my driveway, saw the cars, and knew.
It has been 2 days since her funeral. And that felt wrong.
It has been 1 day since her boys played over here - and that felt right.
It has been 35 minutes since I last wept for her.
There are many more questions than answers. More "what if" scenarios playing through my mind than anything else. More people wanting answers and not finding them. More people wanting to blame someone - and not knowing who to blame. I am sure that somehow and someday everyone will find peace, because life moves forward, but not yet.
Cassandra was always out with the kids playing in the yard, hanging out with all of us as we watched the kids, making smores in her firepit, laughing, smiling - she had an infectious smile, and driving around in her big Suburban as her tiny body barely saw over the steering wheel. She was an amazing tennis player, always remembered birthdays - the whole family's, took the kids skiing, ice skating, and she would take the kids swimming even when I couldn't go with her. Whenever she saw Tessa she was reaching out to hold her and kiss her. When I went to the gym she would find me to say hello and chat for a bit - then she would go to the child care center to see Tessa again. All of the kids adored her. When we had struggles we would talk together and cry together. When we had successes she was the first to congratulate and celebrate. She made a mean lasagna - it was my favorite. Every Christmas Eve she brought over homemade cinnamon rolls for us to bake on Christmas morning.
And she has two terrific young boys who we took swimming yesterday - they were smiling, laughing, playing, and reminding me what is right.
Today was a beautiful day. Perfect weather. Perfect temperature. She would have loved it. She would have been out in her tennis skirt playing with the kids. The sun was setting behind the bluff, and it was beautiful. I couldn't resist taking a million pictures. Emma and Tessa sat and played with the grass.
Sam, Lincoln, and Ted jumped on the trampoline.
Tessa ventured over to the slide. We had root beer floats and the kids wore ice cream mustaches. It felt right.
As I sit her writing, I realize how many problems there were, and I didn't know how bad it was. I also realize just how many wonderful memories I have of her. She was my neighbor and my friend. I mourn this loss for myself, for my kids, and most of all for her kids. Will they ever know how much she adored them?
I will remember her always. We will have "Cassandra" rolls on Christmas morning. I will remember her smile. I will find joy in her boys being over here and reminding me that life moves forward. I will remember how blessed I am to have the gospel in my life. I will soak in and try to memorize every minute with my children and my sweet husband. I will strive to have people remember me for my smile the way I will remember her. I have been blessed in my life to have known her, and I know I am blessed beyond measure. My cup truly runneth over.
I will remember this..........and this feels right.