Sad day for one of our fellow sailing families

As most folks know we have been back and forth to Kemah quite a bit in the last few years.  Since moving aboard, we were in Kemah for a while, then went down to Corpus, then back to Kemah.  We really considered Kemah our sailing home and hailing port, regardless of where we are.

With Deb's involvement in the "Women who Sail Texas" group, we have met some great people, one of those wonderful couples is Mark and Cid.  They had a boat at the next pair over from us, and were working on a complete refit.  Mark was an electrical engineer and has helped us with advice when we needed it.

They were wonderful people and had a daughter named "Kitty".  She would be such a free spirit, always enjoying herself whatever she was doing.  She used to ride in the bicycle trailer when her parents would ride their bikes to the Marina to spend time on the boat.  It was not uncommon to see her wearing a princess dress if that was what she wanted that day.    When Deb was bottle feeding 2 kittens she would ask Cid if she could come over and help Debbie feed the kittens.

She turned five earlier this week and got her own bicycle to start riding with her parents instead of in the bicycle trailer.    I received news this week that she was playing on the dock while Mark was doing some work on at the boat, and she disappeared.  I can't imagine what must have been going through Mark's head for sure as he frantically searched for her.  He didn't see her around there, looked in the water to be sure she hadn't fallen in, no sign of her.  They called the police and the police and a team of volunteers started looking frantically at the Marina as well as the neighborhood.  The Marina is right next store to the Boardwalk that usually has a lot of people, but the marina is gated and locked and there is not traffic just coming through there.  The police searched the entire boardwalk area including all restaurants, the parking garage and the small Kemah waterfront district.

While Mark and Cid were obviously horribly shaken and upset, they were working with the police, sheriffs office and coast guard who were all searching.   The Galveston County sheriffs office brought a team of divers out to search the water and the Kemah Fire and Rescue had boats with side sweeping sonar to also search in the Marina.  By nightfall, she had been missing for over 4 hours or so and the search continued into the night.  At some point they did take the divers out of the water to resume at sun up, but the police continued to search as did the volunteers around town.

Sadly the next day mid morning, they found Kitty's body in the water.  I am sure they will be doing the things they do to validate the cause of death, but it appears she drowned.  She was found very near where she was last seen not far from the boat where she was playing on the dock.  My heart goes out to this family who are dealing with what we all imagine is the hardest thing any person can ever go through and that is the death of a child.

I am sure there are people that will be judgmental and opinionated on this and I so hope that is not the case.  This is a family that has been boating for many many years, Kitty has grown up her whole life on boats and around boats.  She was not left unattended or left to wander away on her own for periods of time unsupervised.  I can't imagine what Mark must be going through and I know how we all beat ourselves up so hard over the things we do.  This has to be mentally killing him too.  I can't imagine the struggles and pain that Mark and Cid will face now as Mark lives with guilt (valid or not, I am sure he will have it) and Cid will know that she wasn't there when this happened and could do the "what if" thing in her head until it makes her crazy.    I think this whole family is such great people and they all loved each other so much and would laugh together and poke fun at each others little habits in good fun and all laugh about them.  They were a pleasure to be around and Kitty was always such a bright spot any where she was.

Kitty's funeral is next week and the family will honor her again and pay their last respects.  Kitty's older sister (late teenage years) had asked friends and family to wear pink and blow bubbles at 1pm CST on Saturday in her honor.  She organized some people together where she lives in Katy TX and there were a dozen or more people that were heading over there.  Someone posted this to friends of this family and of Kitty and in a matter of hours there were people all over the world commenting that they would be doing this as well.  Mark is from Scotland so I suspect that lends a little bit to the wide reach of well wishers, but Saturday was rather amazing as Kitty's sister posted pictures on Facebook of the people there blowing bubbles and all dressed in pink dresses and men in pink shirts, etc.  It was very touching and moving.  

The women who sail group also requested that people leave their anchor light on over Friday night into Saturday in her memory.  I was out of town and when I got home on Friday night, I noticed a light on in our Marina (we are 350 miles away) and I quickly went down below and got our anchor light on as well in her honor.   Someone was telling us that driving over the bridge in Kemah (where you can see several marina's from the top) was a very moving experience Friday night.  There were a sea of anchor lights on in all of the Marina's around town.

I was surprised at just how hard this hit me personally.  I knew Kitty and her family, but I am not usually an emotional person.  I could not contain my tears and sleeplessness the night she went missing and the next morning when she was found, I was a wreck inside and outside.  I don't know if it was because she is relatively close to the age of our granddaughter or something different, but I know that I was grieving more so than I thought I would and it was something very new to me.

I am sorry for the blog that is not a happy tail or frankly is quite different than most of what is written about on our blog, but due to how this affected me, I felt a need for an emotional outlet.  I thought it was a way to share this experience and honor Kitty at the same time.

Saturday, I certainly went on deck of the boat, and blew bubbles in her honor.  God Speed Kitty, I am sure you are dancing around heaven in your favorite princess dress or pirate outfit lighting everything up with your smile and beautiful spirit.

And if you know Mark and Cid, give them a hug, tell them how much your thinking about them and don't be judgmental.  This family members are going to need each others love and support more than likely any other time in their lives.  All interactions they have right now should be in a supportive environment where they can grieve, heal and be there for each other, without people from the outside pointing fingers, blaming or making any crazy accusations.  We all know how the general public always feels a need to have a winner and a loser, the white hat and the black hat, there always seems to be a side that gets picked.  I encourage everyone to land on the side of love and support for a beautiful family grieving and dealing with what has to be one of the most horrendous things a parent could every possibly go through.