At just three years and one month into my sister Serina's life, it ended. My parents lost their first born when tragically their cautious three-year-old suddenly chased after her dog and was struck by a speeding car on their residential road. The dog lived, my sister didn't.
I grew up knowing first-hand that my parents experienced the worst thing imaginable for parents. Witnessed their daily tears, saw their pain that led to them splitting and even heard the terrible retelling of taking Serina off life support, but it took being a parent myself to put it further into perspective.
While I can still only begin to imagine their heartbreak and strength to keep living, I now know just how much personality, moments and dreams go into those three years of raising a child. It's helped make her life more real to me. I keep looking at my boys little bodies and a chill runs down my spine, but more importantly my tears fall for the beautiful little girl lost, her life taken and my poor parents for having to experience something so horrible.
I recently came across a simple photo of our father holding and titling back a cup of water for Serina to drink from. It's such a common parenting task, but I thought 'wow, how many times have I done that for my boys?' and I just started crying.
When I was younger I was a bit obsessed with Serina or rather the lack of her. She wasn't there, yet her presence still was, especially in how my parent's lives changed. I remember I couldn't get enough of looking at her photographs. We were both our parents daughters, yet I lived and she didn't. She had brown hair and brown eyes. My hair was super blonde as a child with blue/green eyes. She was in the 90th percentile and I was in the 20th. I would imagine and wonder what other differences and similarities we'd have. My father had her photos hanging up on almost every wall in his apartment. 17-years after her death, I was once again staring into her eyes as I removed them from his walls after his own passing.
Although I didn't look much like her, I caught myself doing a double-take at the following holiday photo of my son Ben. It reminded me of those photos that I used to see of her, of his would-be aunt. So, just maybe a bit of her still lives on. Maybe I was given twins to give my mom back a life that was taken.