I spend a lot of time (probably too much time) wondering about things.

I wonder why I still get car sick at 38 years old.

I wonder why the grocery store isn’t arranged in alphabetical order.

I wonder if Lee Corso will ever acknowledge me.

But mostly, I wonder about Jackie and Maddie.

Last week was the five-year anniversary of Jackie’s passing. Some people try to make “death days” into a celebration of that person’s life, but I do that on the person’s birthday. On these awful anniversaries, I let myself wallow. I cry. I scream about how unfair it is that their lives were cut short. And I wonder what they would have accomplished if they’d only had more time.

With Jackie, I’m lucky that I don’t have too many things to wonder about. I knew her for fifteen years, long enough to know exactly what she liked and what she didn’t. I know that if she were still alive, she would LOVE Hamilton the Musical. She’d be thrilled that the San Fransisco Giants have won the World Series twice since she died (she’d also be really stoked about the Golden State Warriors’ success). I know that she’d be stunned that Grey’s Anatomy is still on the air (and I know she’s still be watching it anyway, just like me). I know that she would still be the world’s best auntie to her nieces and nephews.

But I do wonder, all the time, what her life would be like now, if she hadn’t had brain cancer, if she hadn’t died. Would she still live in San Francisco? Would she be married? Have kids? Would we be arguing over where to go to celebrate our 40th birthdays? Would she still drink greyhounds? Would she ever let me borrow her awesome clothes?

With Maddie, it’s much harder. She only got seventeen months. She never got the chance to develop likes and dislikes, try hobbies, pick out clothes, make her own friends. She never got to play a sport, or take a dance class, or finger paint. She never went to school.

There is nothing I can know about her with any certainty, and that might be one of the most painful results of her death. I have so many unanswered questions about who she would have become.

She’s been gone for almost eight and a half years. She would be so different from the baby I knew.

I miss them both so much. I wonder how different life would be if they were here.

But mostly, I wish I didn’t have to wonder.