EVANSDALE, Iowa --- The community will gather tonight to celebrate the life of Elizabeth Collins. But absent will be any service for her cousin, Lyric Cook-Morrissey.
The girls' grandmother, Wylma Cook, along with Lyric's mother, Misty Morrissey, and aunt, Tammy Brousseau, are planning a service after Christmas --- possibly in January. They said Wednesday that plans call for Lyric's remains to be cremated and placed in an urn from a monastery in Dubuque. Lilacs will be present at the funeral, as Lyric's favorite colors were purple and blue, Brousseau said.
"Lyric will not be forgotten," Cook said.
In a brief statement to The Courier, Morrissey, who has not spoken publicly yet about her daughter's death, said, "I'm glad she's with our Lord."
Cook, who lost two granddaughters, said Wednesday she hasn't been doing well since the girls' bodies were found a week ago by hunters at Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in Bremer County near Readlyn.
Elizabeth was 8 and Lyric was 10 when they went for a bike ride in July and didn't return. Cook had been caring for the girls at the time and was one of the last people to see them alive.
The discovery of the bodies also has been hard on Misty Morrissey and Lyric's brother, Dillin Morrissey, 16, who lives with Cook. Misty Morrissey remains in the Waterloo Residential Facility, stemming from a 2003 methamphetamine conviction.
"They've been letting her come home quite often, though," Cook said Wednesday. "She's here right now for a bit."
Brousseau, the older sister of Misty Morrissey and Elizabeth's mother, Heather Collins, recalled a converation with Misty on Dec. 5, the day the news came the girls' bodies had been found.
"She had a very calm voice, but I know my sister, and just her tone I could tell it wasn't good," Brousseau said. "I said, 'Misty, just tell me.' And she said, 'Tammy, they're dead.'
"I was with my dad, and I just fell to the floor and cried and wailed and couldn't think straight and tried to get my daughters ready to get over there."
Dan Morrissey, Lyric's father, could not be found by authorities before they broke the news. According to Cook, Dan knew the police were trying to make contact but was scared, as he faces a domestic abuse trial and trials for possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine and running a meth lab stemming from incidents before the disappearance.
"They finally did talk to him, I think, on Friday," Cook said. "He's OK. I talk to him every so often."
Later on the evening of Dec. 5, the group moved to Countryside Vineyard Church. Brousseau knelt at the altar with her daughter, Kaley Bertch, and Misty Morrissey. Heather and Drew Collins were on the other side.
"You could hear quiet sobs throughout the place as we were taking this in," Brousseau recalled. "It was quiet reflection time, it really was. God has held us up through this whole thing."
Despite the coming together during those first hours, Cook said, the past few months have divided the family. She declined to elaborate.
"It makes me sick because I love all of my kids and grandkids," she said.
Heather Collins recently told KWWL she has not spoken to her sister, Misty, in quite some time, and that it was her sister's wishes to hold Lyric's services at a later date.
However, Cook insists the separate events were Collins' decision. She added that Misty Morrissey plans to attend Elizabeth's service tonight.
"That's all I can say," Cook said. "I'm not running anybody down."
Heather Collins was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
The way they were
At the beginning of summer, Misty Morrissey and Lyric showed up at Brousseau's home every morning.
Kaley, 11, and Lyric often went jogging and swimming, or did cartwheels with neighborhood children.
"We did everything together," Tammy said. "Every day. We spent sun up till sun down together. I have been so blessed. I got to spend a lot, a lot of precious time with Lyric."
Kaley treasures the memories of her cousin in their makeshift clubhouses, playing Zelda on their Nintendo DSi game systems and pushing each other around on a luggage cart through a hotel hallway.
"I love Lyric," Kaley said. "She's, like, my best friend."
Lyric especially enjoyed playing with American Girl dolls and once cut one's hair to match her own.
"They're, like, $100 dolls," she added.
Lyric and Elizabeth also were close. Cook, their grandmother, said they loved painting their nails.
"They were constantly changing colors," she said. "We've got so many pictures. And Lyric loved to pose."
Tammy Brousseau described Elizabeth as having "a contagious personality." When her daughter outgrew her bicycle, Tammy Brousseau gave it to Elizabeth and taught her how to ride at age 7.
"I ran her up and down Brovan (Boulevard) till she got the hang of it," she said. "She's such a pumpkin."
On Wednesday, Brousseau and her daughters, Kaley and Haley, 14, looked over the collection of toys, homemade gifts and other memorials at Meyers Lake, where the girls' bicycles were found hours after they were reported missing.
"Elizabeth loved Winnie the Pooh," Tammy Brousseau said, picking up a stuffed bear.
The girls' short lives is proof life is precious, Brousseau said. She urged parents to keep a close eye on their children and live life to the fullest.
"We're not promised tomorrow," she said. "So with my girls, you know, things are going to change. We're going to do a lot more."
Cook said she has always taught her children --- and grandchildren --- to exchange hugs and "I love yous."
"She always did that," Cook said of Lyric, who lived with her. "Like in the morning when she got up, she'd run into my arms, 'Good morning, Grandma, I love you.'
"And at bedtime, her and I would hold hands, we'd talk about the day, and we'd pray," she added.
The same was true of Elizabeth. For years, Cook and Lyric had gone to the Collins home every morning to help Heather, who almost died from a heart ailment in November 2010 and now has a pacemaker.
A trust fund set up at First Security Bank in Evansdale shortly after the girls vanished still exists, according to Evansdale Police Chief Kent Smock.
He noted he has been working with both families to apply for money through the Iowa Attorney General's Victim's Compensation Fund. Each can receive up to $7,500 to cover funeral expenses. Other benefits also are available.
If that isn't enough, Smock said, using money from the account is an option.
Currently, no money has been distributed to the Cooks or Morrisseys.