Caylee Anthony Trial Outcome Hits Parents Hardest

Jacqueline Burt Cote

caylee anthonyAs a mom, the words "not guilty" hit me like a knife in the heart. Not guilty. I just keep picturing that round little face, the glossy brown hair ... imagine all the times Casey Anthony washed that hair, pouring cups of warm water over Caylee's sudsy head. Was she careful not to get soap in her daughter's eyes? Did she towel her tiny body dry and dress her in cozy pajamas? Tuck her into bed and read her a story?

Of course Casey did all of these things and more for her beautiful 2-year-old daughter. That's why when I think of the brutality that child endured, I feel physically -- violently -- ill. How could any parent of a 2-year-old not still be in awe of their child's total innocence and utter perfection? She must have been learning to talk, beginning to draw pictures, maybe. And like any 2-year-old, she probably adored her mommy.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, sweeter on this earth than the feeling of a 2-year-old's arms wrapped around your neck. How many times did Caylee hug Casey with all her might? How many times did she fall asleep with her head on Casey's shoulder? When my kids were little and they fell asleep in my arms, half the time I couldn't bear to put them down. I would nuzzle their soft, sweet-smelling heads and feel their heavy, rhythmic breathing and all would be right with the world.

All should still be right with Caylee's world. Caylee should still be drawing pictures with crayons and laughing at Sesame Street and singing songs and taking baths, but she's not. Her life came to one of the ugliest, most tragic ends imaginable.

I can still remember my daughter's tears when, at 2 years old, she got her first scraped knee. How sad it was to watch the blood pour down her leg, that still brand-new and unblemished leg. To think of how Caylee died, how her body was stuffed in the trunk of a car to rot ... honestly, I can't think of it, not for more than a split second, because I feel like I'm either going to be sick or scream at the top of my lungs.

Today I know I'm not the only parent crying for Caylee, and for the countless other abused children who die heartbreakingly unjust deaths. Today is a day of sorrow and outrage. Caylee, rest in peace.

How did the Casey Anthony trial verdict hit you?

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