Monday, Sept. 06, 2004 | 9:17 a.m.

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Yesterday we went to a bbq/birthday party at R&M's house. Bear with me for a minute while I do a little begat-ing. R&M are the parents of K, who is married to C, who is D's brother. So we went to this party at R&M's house, with R&M (of course), K&C, D&B and all our children attending. All our children is no small thing -- they outnumbered the adults! K&C have three girls, D&B have two girls and a boy and you know my story, so there you have it.

At the height of the fun, we were visited by a handful of dragonflies, who hovered for awhile and darted around the pool before heading off to dragonfly obligations unknown. I took note of it. It's interesting that dragonflies show up when we are at times of heightened emotion. The skeptic in my mind wants to shrug it off as coincidence and an increase in dragonflies due to an increase in mosquitoes, but the deeper part of me notices the timing of the dragonfly arrivals and can't help but think it's something more. Jeff and I talked about it on the way home and we both struggle with the skeptic and the dreamer on this one.

After we got home, Gab was exhausted from the day that was piled on top of a very late night/early morning slumber party that had taken place the night before and went up to her room. I went up to check on her and tuck her in and found her laying on the bed, staring at the wall with a look on her face that is very familiar to me, because it was on my face the night before. I asked her what was wrong, noting that she looked sad, but she said she was just tired. I said, "Okay..." and went back downstairs. I have learned that Gab has to come to me when Gab is ready. Even when she's ready I have to do a lot of prying to get at what's bothering her, but to try to do it before she's ready is like trying to chisel concrete with a toothpick.

Pretty soon, I was sitting at my computer, noting that someone Googled Jeff and I yesterday and then read all my journal plus all the pages over at Dragonfly Wings, and Gab came down the stairs and sat at my feet, head on her knees. I asked her again, "What's wrong?" She started to shake her head, then she said, "I don't know. I feel like something's wrong, but I don't know what it is." That's my cue to start prying, so pry I did, until finally I worked her around to admitting that being around all the sisters was hard, and made her miss Jasmine. The floodgates, which have been tightly closed since before we moved, flew open, and the tears flowed out.

We went back up to her room and sat on her bed and talked some more. More information was offered. Turns out L had a necklace that she said was Jasmine's. She tried to give it to Gab, but Gab didn't recognize it. Still, it bothered her, reminded her, I think, that there were pieces of Jasmine she didn't know. She couldn't articulate that, but I think that's part of what was going on. Then she started talking about how she would do anything just to have Jasmine back -- it's so hard when she does that.

So we lay on the bed, and I held her and wept while she cried. I shared with her something of what I had gone through the night before. I think it's important that she know I still cry too, that it's okay to still hurt so much. I asked her if she ever felt like Jasmine was around, and she said she did, that she felt Jasmine when she was really happy, like she was standing next to her. She also said she felt Jasmine when she was sad, and that it cheered her up. I told her firmly and strongly that those feelings are real, that it's Jasmine's way of letting her know she's still around. I wish I could tell myself the same way.

The emotions swing so strongly between happiness and grief. This weekend has been full of extremes. It's as if for each high swing of the pendulum to the happy side, there has to be an equal swing to the sad side. But that flies in the face of physics, doesn't it? Shouldn't the swing to the sad side be a little less? I guess it is, in terms of time. The times of intense grieving and crying last for a few hours, while the fun and happiness last for many. But in terms of strength and depth, it's pretty equal. As much as my chest expands when I'm happy, hanging out with friends, watching my children laugh and play, it contracts twice as hard when I am alone and I realize that one of my children was missing and will never return.

Gabrielle said last night that she just wanted us to be "normal." I'm pretty skeptical of normal, actually, and echo Aunt Frances's take on it, from Practical Magic ("My darling girl, when are you going to understand that "normal" is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage."). However, I asked Gab what she meant. She said that before Jasmine died, she always felt like we were weird because we had all the "stuff" that came with Jasmine having CF. Now we are weird because Jasmine died. I understand what she means. I told her that all families have things that make them special -- they just aren't always as obvious as ours are. I don't know if it helped -- I suspect this is a lesson she has to learn for herself.

Gab really is a sort of Sally Owens. I hope some day she comes to terms with the things that makes her family her family, that she learns to see them as things that make her who and what she is, and that while sometimes that is a painful thing, ultimately it just is and that it is for everyone, not just her. I hope that when that day comes, she will be comfortable with who she is, and that she has the wisdom to see it all in balance.

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