Friday, June 3, 2011

Christina Marie Solis

I grew up the oldest of 3. But I wasn't the first child born to my parents. They named their first daughter Christina Marie. She was a gorgeous little girl and graced their lives for 6 glorious years and 39 magnificent days. Sort of like Solana and Chloe, my sisters and I grew up with an angel sister watching over us.

I know only a little bit about her. I know her pretty little face from the portrait that was always displayed in our home. I know that my parents loved her very much and that my mother was always sad on April the 4th, the day she died. (She wasn't really obvious about it and I wasn't as sensitive to her sadness as my sister, Leticia. She's the one who pointed that out to me.) My Aunts called her "Tina" and my father once told me, with a smile, that she was kind of spoiled. What could you expect, though? She was the only grandchild of my Grandma and Grandpa. And they concurred with my dad's assessment. My Grandpa used to brag that Christina would arrive at their house and ask them to take her shopping. They loved it and often indulged her.

Christina was a fan of the Brady Bunch and wanted a baby sister named Cindy. Instead, my parents got her a cat that she named Cindy. They didn't plan on having any other children because they needed to focus all their attention on their precious daughter. The reason was that Christina had a congenital heart disease called Tetralogy of Fallot. Very simply, the heart is supposed to pump oxygenated blood throughout your body but in her case, the heart sometimes pumped non-oxygenated blood throughout her body. Babies born with this defect are often called Blue Babies because they turn blue as a result of the lack of oxygen in their blood. Christina couldn't walk very far, my Mom once told me. She sometimes started turning blue and had to be carried. She had multiple open-heart surgeries and was taken home to God while in recovery from her last.

My Dad was in the military. They were quickly moved from Texas to Pensacola, Florida and then San Vito, Italy. Cindy, the cat, didn't want to move and disappeared when it was time to go. I was born the year following Christina's passing. Although they lived in Italy at the time, my Mom was sent to the military hospital in Germany to await my arrival. Alone, in a foreign country, without even her husband for company, she went into labor early, and I arrived unexpectedly on February 24th. That was Christina's birthday - the first since her last.

I always felt special for sharing Christina's birthday. (I also got her middle name and initials.) And the dimples I sport are proof of our special connection. You do know that dimples happen when an angel kisses you on your way down from heaven, right? I'm pretty sure she gave me a big hug and kiss on my way down to keep Mommy and Daddy company.

But not until having my own daughter did I imagine what it might have felt like to lose a child. What emotions must my Mom have felt? When the doctor gave her the news and she banged on his chest crying. That day in the delivery room? Every year on my (our) birthday? On April 4th of my 6th year? Think about it. On the anniversary of her passing I was the exact same age - to the day - that she was. How difficult must that have been? I wonder how I acted that day. I hope I was a good little girl.

But, I guess, part of the reason I never thought about the sadness was because my parents didn't dwell on the loss of their daughter. They didn't talk about her a ton growing up. But when they did they did it in a way that never upset us girls. We had an angel sister and we were lucky and special to have her watching over us. They had a daughter who would have been 16, would have been 21, would have been 30, would have been 43. I'm sure they miss her every day and feel sadness often but, from my perspective, they chose to hold tight to her joy. They chose to focus on and appreciate the three daughters that they got to raise to adulthood.

Today Solana is 6 years and 39 days old. She was probably about 9 months old the first time I looked at her and thought of Christina and my parents' loss. I remember sitting on the floor with her in our Colorado house and talking to Dave about it. And I always knew that today would be a day of contemplation for me. Solana and Chloe are going to be sick of me hugging them so many times today. I am thankful for every day that I have them and will never forget how lucky I am. And I'll never forget my sister, Christina.

Mommy and Daddy - you are amazing and wonderous parents and people for and to whom I am eternally thankful. You taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. You made my sisters and me the people we are today and I think we're pretty good people. And perhaps we owe Christina a debt of gratitude for showing you the depth of your love even before we arrived.

Your loving and devoted daughter, Cynthia Marie.


Holbergs said...

Ok...I was bawling reading this. Very well written. It's amazing how much we all look like her, and how much our kids look like her.

catchupdaphne said...

So beautiful. I wish you and your parents didn't have to share this knowledge of what it feels like to lose a daughter. And I am so glad you all have each other, as well as the sweet angels above.

Emily and Troy Williams said...

Isn't it funny how we don't often think of our parents and the lives they had before we came into it, until we experience similar events or become parents ourselves? My father was 5 1/2 when his mother gave birth to a little girl who lived 14 days. I've known about Jo Ann's short life for a while, but had never asked my dad what he remembered until I went into the hospital a couple of weeks ago.

Thank you for sharing this story. Your parents have provided you with an excellent example of how to include Leila in a normal, healthy way, and I'm sure she will be as much a part of Solana and Chloe's lives as Christina has been in yours and Leticia's.

Angela Maggard said...

Aw, cyndi, this post was beautiful! Your girls look so much like her! I didn't even know this story... Thanks for sharing!!

Megan B ♥ said...

What an incredible story. Thank you so much for sharing it. It has come in a timely moment for me. Thank you.

As a side note, I can't believe how much those pictures look like your girls!

The Hillbergs said...

I'm crying reading this. A beauitiful story.