Emma only got to visit Lake Kahola a few times.  We didn’t move in until the last weekend of September 2017 and by mid-February she was gone.  Still, in those few visits she provided me with memories to last a lifetime.

Marie, Piper and Paisley (our granddaughter) just left for home while Bolt, our energetic and explorative Siberian husky and I stay behind.  One of those benign Kansas thunderstorms is moving slowly through chopping the waves and rolling them over to whitecaps while the winds reshape the leafless trees to fit its will.  Kansas is named after the People of the South Wind, the Kanza.  And as April begins, so too do the persistent south winds. 

As I look out the raindrop speckled window I see the water where Emma once floated and played, as well as whooped and hollered.  Emma loved water.  No, she didn’t swim and had no real desire to learn.  In fact, the time we tried to give her swim lessons is an Emmaism  Yet, she loved to play and splash and dip her head under. 

Our cove, being only about four to five feet deep was perfect for our 5’5’ girl.  One of the reasons we chose this cabin was the zero entry from land to water.  As I glance to my right, while pounding on the keyboard, I see a picture I snapped not realizing it would be one of the very few I have of her from this place of respite for our family. 

grief and loss
Emma being Emma.

Relaxed. Smiling. Casual.  Almost comfortable. All of those descriptions belie the trip down here that day.  Drama, anger and resentment permeated the car that day because she simply did not want to come.  Of course, then she did.  Then no.  Then, well, “If you only understood me.”  Ah, the insidiousness of mental illness, especially Borderline Personality Disorder.  Never knowing, from moment to moment, who you were talking to nor what any reaction would be.  Sadly, at times, Emma recognized the same.

Though I choose not to focus on the challenging and sometimes awful memories I do occasionally bring them up knowing that others are experiencing the same scenarios that we once faced and are looking for, longing for, understanding and confirmation. 

What I do choose to focus on are moments like this picture.  Relaxed. Smiling. Casual.  Emma.  I choose to remember her bouncing on the waves, her life preserver affixed tightly to her assuring her buoyancy.  I choose to remember the long discussions of what kind of boat we would have and that it really should be a pontoon since that would be easier for her to get on and off.  I choose to remember her buying a life preserver for Spot, her loyal half Jack Russell terrier and half Chihuahua, and that poor dog swimming in circles while Emma giggled and giggled. Oh, that giggle.

That giggle is what I choose to remember.