So beautiful

As I soap up my hands and run the shampoo through Caitlin’s hair, I often find myself thinking back to when she was an infant. A tiny baby, no more than a few weeks old, laying peacefully on the mesh bath supporter. I can see myself, my feet inside the tub, my jeans rolled up, washing her gently. My baby girl. I can see Chris standing, leaning against the doorway, watching us both. He starts to tell me a story, a story he was told at work by a client after it was announced his baby girl had been born.

The client was an older woman with children of her own. She recalls the memory of bath time with her two-year-old daughter, gently washing her hair and rinsing the soap from her.

“You have such a beautiful body,” she tells her daughter.
”Beautiful?” her daughter replied.
”Yes, so beautiful.”

Those were the last words she said to her daughter. The last thing she heard her daughter say.

After bath time, she went outside with a sibling to play when someone (her oldest son, I believe) either drove into the driveway, or was driving out. The details are skewed in my mind, but what happened isn’t. Her daughter was killed.

At the moment Chris tells me that, my heart catches in my throat. I stop breathing. I cry. I cry for the daughter. I cry for her mother.

Because of that story, our bath times are special. No matter what is going on, they are a time of calm and comfort. There is no yelling, no fighting, no anger. Even when misbehavior occurs, it is a time of love.

As we finish bath time, I wrap her up in a warm towel, heated just for her, and dry her off. I breath her in as I pat off her hair, back and belly. The scent of strawberry and blueberry fill my senses and I whisper to her, “You are so beautiful.”

The other day, as I patted and dried, tickled and giggled, I whispered to her. And she smiled at me, as if she knew exactly what I meant and replied, “So beautiful.”

My heart caught in my throat and I began to cry. For the daughter. For the mother. Singular tear drops fell into Caitlin’s hair as I replied, “Yes, so beautiful.”

So very beautiful.


6 Responses

  1. This is heartbreaking.
    This is one of the reasons why I hate working at a Childrens hospital. I hear and see so many stories that it makes me picture myself and my son in their shoes. It also makes me eternally grateful that my son is healthy and safe.

  2. I heard a story like this but with an 18 month old and the dad driving. It makes me terrified of backing out of my driveway. So, so, so heartbreaking.

    • It amazes me how often it happens. It had been rumored to have happened on the military base I lived on as a teen. No proof to that. Either way, I am terrified of backing out as well.

  3. What happened on base was slightly different. A woman had put her kids into the car and then realized she forgot something inside and ran inside to get it. One of her boys tried to get out of the car somehow, through a window or something and he fell and had a fatal head injury. It really did happen, it happened just a few houses down from where Chris and Frannie lived. I remember the sound of the sirens rushing there, Frannie heard the sound of the father’s scream when he arrived home after receiving the call. Chilling.

  4. And I will never forget meeting the lady who runs the foundation “Annabelle’s Angels” at a special needs symposium in Richmond. She heard me referring to Annabelle by name near her booth, she asked me how old Annabelle was and I told her, she asked me her birthday. It turns out she too had a daughter named Annabelle, who was born on the same day or near the same day, I can’t quite recall as my Annabelle except when she was two years old she had a service worker come to her house and the little girl was riding a ride on toy in the drive way. The service worker went to back up and ran over the little girl, killing her instantly. The mother now has a foundation to promote vigilance when backing up around children and sells special safety mirrors that go on the rear view mirror that make it easier to see small children when backing up. I always make sure that my children are standing on the porch when I am backing up and that anyone who comes into the driveway knows that they are playing outside so that they can be extra cautious, it is quite a big fear of mine.

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