My aunt Mabel was in her forties, and had yet to be able to have children. Her husband Alphonse, knowing of her intense desire to have a child of her own, started inquiring about the chances of adopting an infant.
Within months, a baby girl became available, and my aunt and uncle gladly adopted her. They named her Karen Marie Nelson Pocas.
Karen Marie was a serene child, sleeping an almost regular schedule. As she grew, we all marveled at how curly her sandy blond hair was.
Because of how curly it was, my aunt would become excited when people would mistake her for a boy. From that point on, Aunt Mabel made sure Karen was dressed and adorned in expensive little girl cloths.
She played a lot with my sister, who was one year younger than her. Karen was never happier than when playing with Claudia. Both laughed as they played with dolls, doctors’ kits, miniature play houses, strollers, wagons, and trikes. Occasionally, they had a disagreement, but always they remained best buds.
It turned out that my sister would end up being her only friend, because Karen started showing signs of fatigue when she was four. She never complained, but it became evident her energy level was waning.
Her slender little legs gave out on occasion.
By her fifth birthday, she was diagnosed with Leukemia.
She loved kindergarten, but after the first month, she no longer had the strength to continue.
In the ensuing months of her illness, Aunt Mabel made a bed for her on their living room couch. My sister and I would visit her, but only for short periods of time. She was in pain, and was administered pain medication.
Then on Friday Match 9, 1954, she quietly passed away in my aunt’s arms. It was the saddest moment I ever witnessed. She was gone, never to wake up again.
I was in fourth grade when this happened.
At the funeral, I sat right in front of the open casket in our ward house. I could see the outline of Karen’s face and her curly hair. She was still, eyes closed. It was the stillness that made me sad. I cried so much my step father had to put me on his lap and hold me. He cried too. We wept together. Father and son.
It rained that day.
After the funeral and the grave site service, my aunt and uncle spent the afternoon at our home. I can remember my aunt waking up from a nap. I felt sorry for her. I remember standing near the middle of our living room as she walked down the hall and into the kitchen. She was silent. She wasn’t wearing her glasses. Her eyes were puffy. From that day forward, whenever there was a family event, and she and my uncle attended, when something came up that reminded her of Karen, she would begin to cry and run out of the room.
What sense do I make out of the passing of this sweet little girl?
Really, all explanations are inadequate, other than, . . . it happened. After that, we are left with our thoughts.