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Five years ago today, on June 6, 2010, my world came crashing down with the untimely death of my best friend’s daughter.  On that bright and beautiful Sunday morning, for reasons never satisfactorily explained, Cynthia Elizabeth Janelli’s car ran off a nearby street and slammed into a tree.  I’ll never forget my daughter’s voice on the phone as she told me, “Mom, Cindy’s dead.”  She was 18 years old, with her whole future ahead of her, and now she was gone.

None of us knew what to say, how to act, how to comfort her parents and sister.  I know I never found the right words to say…there are no right words.  Our family was glowing with happiness over the birth of granddaughter #2, and Cindy was gone.

Someday I hope we will understand why such things happen.  Why certain children who were true birth miracles die before becoming adults.  Why families have to watch others achieve all the normal milestones of adulthood — college, marriage, children, home buying…all of it — while their beloved child is buried in the cemetery next to her great-grandparents.

Today I visited Cindy at the Visalia District Cemetery.  Her mother had already been there, so I added my flowers to hers.  I told Cindy about what a beautiful woman her baby sister was becoming, and how much she was missed with each milestone.  Ashley is making her own way now, without her sister’s experience for guidance.  And she is doing an awesome job.

I went home in a bit of a blue funk, knowing I should be counting my blessings, but missing this child and grieving for all the losses along the way.  I cannot fathom how her parents and grandparents get through this day every year…and all the days in between…without her.  I just know that she is loved, as is her family, and that there will always be room for her in our hearts.

Rest in peace, Beautiful.

Rest in peace, Beautiful.