This weekend I ran to Target to pick up a few random things and the parking lot was packed. I figured there must have been an end-of-summer sale or something, and didn’t think much of it until I came upon the seasonal section and discovered the crowd. And because I’m so emotionally stable lately, I immediately started crying when I looked at all the little kids trying on backpacks, picking out binders, and grabbing school supplies. Madeline would be starting Junior Kindergarten this week.

In our district, Junior Kindergarten (or Transitional Kindergarten as they are now calling it) is for all the kids born between September 1st and December 2nd. With a November 11th birthday, Maddie would have qualified. It’s not at every school in the district, but wouldn’t you know it – it’s offered at the school at the end of our street. That would have been so perfect.

I try to not think too much about the random things like what backpack she would have picked out, or what outfit she would have wanted to wear on her first day. It used to be a “fun” little game I played, but now it just drives home how different she would be from the toddler I knew. I really have no idea what kind of child she would have become. That makes me so, so sad.

Standing there in Target, I let myself wonder for a second. I wanted to walk through the back-to-school section and look at what Maddie’s choices would have been. But my feet were glued to the floor.

When I eventually was able to move, I walked to the adjacent section and bought Annie a book. Only three years until she starts Kindergarten.