On September 5th, my daughter, Carime Anne, otherwise known as Cari, would be 48 years old if she were still alive. She was killed when she was 13 by a multiple repeat offender drunk driver who was out on bail for another hit and run drunk driving crash. The story has been told thousands of times and will be told again, I am sure. However, I made a decision long ago that the focus of my memories of her would not be on how she died but on how she lived.
She and her identical twin sister were born on Labor Day, when labor day was really September 5th each year. I always thought that was such an appropriate day to give birth.
The picture you are seeing is one of my favorites of her taken when she was only a toddler, two, I think. I thought she and her identical twin sister, Serena were the most gorgeous babies in the world. Didn’t everybody think that of their children? I kept entering them both or individually in baby contests hoping they would win fame, fortune and be acknowledged by everyone as the most beautiful babies ever. This was one of the photos I sent in of Cari. Not only didn’t they win, they never even placed. I just know those contests were rigged.
It is hard to speak about Cari without speaking about Serena because they were identical twins and did everything together in the early years although they soon made their own friends and began dressing differently, even wearing different hairstyles. They were strong, athletic and well liked and loved by most people. Cari was not perfect by any means. She was a great tattletale and I always learned what her sister was up to from her willingness to share – with me. When Serena experimented with smoking, Cari couldn’t wait to let me know. I remember one of the first things I thought as I was absorbing the impact of her death was who would keep me informed when Serena did something wrong. They both played sports; basketball, volley ball and softball. Cari could get very emotional when things didn’t go the way she thought they should. She would rant and rave and carry on about whose fault this was or that but she moved on quickly and went back for another game.
She also had a soft heart. I had more strays, cats and dogs who would somehow “follow” her home. We already had more than our share but somehow we squeezed in another one. There were times when we had quite a menagerie. Another favorite photo of mine is her sleeping on her bed with our cat, Michelob stretched out beside her. She really loved animals. They really loved her.
She was blunt and didn’t put up with a lot of nonsense. She was always advising her friends and they always seemed to call on her when they were in trouble. She would stand in for her sister from time to time, and the one time I remember well was when a young man who liked Serena came over to the house. Serena didn’t have the heart to tell him she wasn’t interested and asked me to tell him she wasn’t home but I refused to lie for her. Finally, Cari went to the door, pretending to be Serena and let him down gently.
On April Fools’s Day, she and her sister would dress alike, we would cut their hair alike and they would go to school pretending to be each other. Cari liked to study, and loved to show off her knowledge. She would raise her hand every chance she got. Serena did not like to call attention to herself and did not study as hard. They would come home laughing, telling me how Cari would go into Serena’s class and lay all over the desk pretending not to pay attention and Serena would go into Cari’s class and raise her hand and pray the teacher didn’t call on her. It worked every time and they did it every year until the principal finally sent me a note home asking me not to participate anymore in their April Fool’s joke because it was too confusing for the teachers.
She could get very protective of her little brother although Travis has more memories of her beating him up and drowning him in the pool then “protecting” him. However, I remember several times when she became upset with me for yelling at him when I was angry for something he shouldn’t have done. They also told me stories of how, when he was being bullied, he would bang on their classroom door until one of them came out to take care of the bully.
Cari would always tell me how she was going to live in our home forever and go into real estate with me thought I doubt she had a clue what I did. She was my oldest (by 4 minutes) and I will always be grateful that the last words I said to her were, “You do know how much I love you, don’t you?”
So many memories, so little time. Happy Birthday, baby.