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Monday, November 3, 2008

Remembering Starlene - 07/08/07 - 11/03/07

Today is November 3, 2008. Which means that three hundred sixty five days and some odd hours have gone by since Starlene left this world. She was five days shy of four months old.

Starlene was my best friend's daughter, born three weeks to the day before Beastie. I didn't know her in real life. I knew her through the internet, and that makes me really mad at myself, because she lived just twenty miles away. I always meant to go visit Jill and Starlene, and I just never did. It wasn't until Starlene left this world that I made an effort to be a friend. It's because I'm selfish and lacking in social skills, but its no use making excuses because what's done is done.

I feel awkward telling the story, because its not my story to tell. It's Jill's. And I don't know that Jill and I are on good enough terms for me to invite her as a guest to tell the story. Not only that, but I've gotten so many different renditions of the story that I just don't know what is the truth.
Regardless, Starlene deserves to have her story told, and to be remembered. So I'm going to do my best.

I am told that Jill went out with friends the night before Starlene died. She was an exclusively breastfed baby, and Jill and her partner at the time were excited to have recently found a bottle that Starlene would take. So Jill expressed some milk for her, and they all went out and had a good time. Starlene was left in the care of Jill's partner's daughter, who was in her late teens and around 8 months pregnant.

Jill came home in the early morning, sometime after midnight, and Starlene was sleeping in her bouncy seat. Jill laid down on the couch next to her and fell asleep. Not too long later, Jill woke up and knew something was terribly wrong. She reached for Starlene and found her unresponsive.

I don't know exactly what happened after that. I know paramedics came and tried to resuscitate her as they transported her to the hospital. I know that as they performed CPR, bloody stuff came out of Starlene and got on her clothing. I know that Starlene never started breathing and died on November 3rd, 2007.

Starlene's funeral was horrible and beautiful and surreal. She had a remarkable resemblance to Beastie, and ever since I saw Starlene in her beautiful dress, all laid out and perfect, I cannot stand to watch Beastie's face as she sleeps. Even at fifteen months old, she still looks to me like Starlene in her silk lined casket.

I remember the altar area where Starlene was laid for viewing. She wore a delicate, lacy blue dress and a tiny gold necklace. There was a picture of her great grandmother, after whom she was named, next to her tiny head. She was surrounded by her things, including the bouncy seat where she died. There were pictures of her all around, and stuffed animals, and a rocking chair. Her older brother, not quite three years old, wore a tiny black tux and carried a teddy bear. And I sat in the gallery area, holding my beautiful girl who looked so much like the beautiful girl in the casket.

There's not much more to tell about Starlene. Her life was brief, her death apparently painless. Jill got the clothes back that Starlene was wearing while paramedics worked on her, and they still, of course, had bloody material on them. The other clothes, the ones purchased for Starlene but never worn, because she never grew enough for size 6/9 months, were given to me for Beastie. Beastie wore them, and I saved them to cherish Starlene's memory.

Jill donated Starlene's organs and tissues, but later the organizations who received Starlene's organs and tissues informed her that they could not be used. No reason was given.

Jill waited months for reports from the medical examiner. Everything came back inconclusive, but her death was not considered SIDS.

I wasn't a good friend to Jill. I basically abandoned her a month or so after Starlene died. I have no excuse or explanation for that, just that I'm freakishly antisocial. I thought about Jill every day, but that's not the same as calling or emailing. I can't take that back, and I hate myself for it. All I can do is hope Jill forgives me, and pay my tributes to God's beautiful angel, Starlene Lucille-Mabel Booker.

Love you baby girl.

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