Annabel has been full of questions since James was born. Most are typical:

“Why is he crying?” He’s hungry.

“He’s eating again?” He eats a lot.

“Can I hold him?” (I hear that one five thousand times a day.)

Then there’s the line of questioning that freaks Mike out:

“How did you make him?” With love.

“Was I there?” Noooooo.

“Can I make a baby, too?” Not for thirty more years.

There are questions that, in hindsight, I should have seen barreling towards me. As we prepped Annabel for becoming a big sister, I didn’t even consider the questions she might have about her own.

“Did Maddie have a special dress at the hospital when I was born?”

“What did Maddie say when she met me?”

“Did Maddie love to hold me, too?”

Her questions are innocent and natural, but they are almost too much for my postpartum emotions. The questions come every night, always at bed time, and after Annabel is tucked in I find myself standing in front of Madeline’s urn, crying about what should have been, wondering if the answers I choked out were good enough.

“Maddie is the best big sister.”

“I wish she could play with me.”

“I miss Maddie.”

Annabel’s imagination is so vivid that she’ll often tell me stories about the adventures that she and Maddie went on. Each account is so detailed that she’s almost convinced me they’re real memories. At the end of each story she’ll say, “Remember when that happened, Mama?” I smile and ask her to tell me more.

“Where does Maddie live now, Mama?” In our hearts.

“Oh…I can feel her when my heart beats!”

I can, too.