When the chaplain and the police came, I was cool, until they showed me Camie's obituary. I lost it. Actually started crying, even though I knew it an excersize. Felt freaking real.
Then, part of MY job as a parent is to sort out my feelings, and try to imagine how I WOULD feel if Camie had died, and write a last letter to her. Her obituary said she had died at the wheel of a car, killing three others with her, as a result of being high on weed. To my mind that's so unlike her, the but point of the excersize is, you just never know.
Here's my letter. This will go to Camie tomorrow at a luncheon. She's incommunicado, so there's no chance she'll read it till then.
"Dear god, Camie…. How can you be gone?
You left for school this morning so happy. Freshly showered, your hair still wet, pulled back in ponytails, still smelling like fresh soap and shampoo when I hugged you goodbye. I told you have a good day, you said, “I will. Bye, poppy”.
I cleaned up, showered, got ready for my day. Then came a knock at the door. Strangers were standing outside. The rest is a blur.
And now I find my trust was misplaced! You smoked dope and got behind the wheel of a car! Camie, dammit, how could you?
We’ll never go camping again, or drive to
I will remember wonderful things, Camie. I’ll remember laughing with you at stupid jokes. I’ll remember having serious talks with you about boys and feelings and life. I’ll remember going to movies, picking you and your friends up at the mall, having a house full of giggling kids all there because of you. I’ll remember being baptized with you.
I’ll remember the absolute and complete joy at watching you grow from an awkward child into a beautiful young woman that I loved and respected.
Camie, how can you be gone?
I have a hollow, empty place in life, now. I’ll have it forever. My baby daughter is dead. That makes no sense. Even seeing and hearing the words, they still make no sense to me. It shouldn’t be possible. When we’re young we live forever, right? Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?
Camie, you were supposed to come home tonight, after school. But instead, I’m lost and adrift because something so valuable was so meaninglessly torn away from me. I suppose if your death had meaning, like if you died trying to help someone, or even if you had a simple accident which wasn’t your fault, I could cope better.
But you chose to smoke! You chose to be wreckless, and that’s just not like you! You chose to be dangerous, and you killed yourself and three others. Now, not only me, but three other families are going through what I’m going through. It’s just so senseless, Camie. So senseless.
Camie, I love you, and will always love you. I know the real you, and it wasn’t the real you that did this. That was someone else. The Camie I know, I will miss forever and ever.
Camie, how can you be gone?
All my love, Dad
(Mike Jones, for Camie Jones)"