Letter 3: An Ordinary Day
On an otherwise uneventful Friday night in November, you asked my advice.
Should you attend your best friend’s birthday party at a Brazilian restaurant, or
should you go to a doctor’s appointment? You and your friend had had some
turbulent months, so I advised the party since you could reschedule the
appointment for just a few days later – after all, they treated your appointment
request as routine.
Another if only.
For some reason I awoke when you came home around midnight, and you and I spent a wonderful hour together laughing almost hysterically at Jay Leno on TV. I went to bed around 1:00, but awoke around 5:00 a.m. to find you still in one of the leather recliners, sound asleep. I covered you. When your dad and I awoke around 7:00, you had gone into your room to bed.
Dad and I followed our usual Saturday morning routine – breakfast at the Double T Diner, trip to the Commissary, and other errands. I remember that we tried to call you on our home phone line and on your cell phone since we wanted to ask about an ingredient that you needed for a meal that you were planning to prepare on Sunday. You not answering either phone made me feel a little uneasy, but I just rationalized that you were sleeping soundly. We called as we left for home so you would be ready for our hair appointments that afternoon. Still no answer. When we turned in the driveway around 1:00 p.m., I was a bit more concerned, since I knew that you had had a late morning appointment at an Annapolis Spa.
On entering your room, I found you still in bed, apparently asleep on your back with a pleasant facial expression. But when I called your name, there was no response, not even when I got next to you. I panicked and screamed for Dad, who immediately began to try to resuscitate you and told me to dial 911. The operator instructed us to get you onto the floor; I screamed for the team to hurry and stood with the front door open.
The EMTs rushed in but soon left with downcast eyes. Two detectives came, declaring your room a crime scene, so we could not go in. They were soon followed by a medical examiner who looked like an actress from Law and Order. I remember her words, “Don’t worry, ma’am, we will find out what happened to your daughter.” A disposal team dumped your body into a blue bag and put you in the back of an ugly old station wagon. You would have to be autopsied.
It would be four and a half months before the state medical examiner’s office would offer an explanation of your death -- when they issued your death certificate.