I don’t write to you much anymore. I used to jot down stories and memories and things I wanted you to know, whenever the words floated into my head. Now, the time I used to use to scribble you notes is spent tending to your sister and brother. They take up a lot of time, those two.
I do, however, talk to you. A lot. All the time. In fact, Annabel no longer asks me what I’m doing when she catches me talking to you. Mostly, I tell you about your siblings. Sometimes I tell you how I’m feeling. On the days when I will let myself, I ask about you. I wonder how tall you’d be – would you still be a peanut, or would you have started to catch up to your peers? Would your hair have kept its curl or gone straight like your sister’s? What would you be interested in? Who would your best friend be? I keep hoping the wind will whisper an answer.
In the days and weeks leading up to your birthday, I can feel myself getting more tense. I try to stay busy so I don’t think about all the things I should be doing…buying you presents, inviting over family and friends, planning a party. I have a dark cloud around me that I just can’t shake. This will be the fifth birthday of yours that we’ve spent without you, so you’d think I’d be more prepared, but I’m not. I have to accept that I might not ever be.
You are your little sister’s favorite topic. She loves to talk about you, and draw you, and she “writes” you letters, which are mostly just scribbles since she can’t actually write or spell yet. Sometimes she tells me about the adventures the two of you have, and they’re so detailed that I almost believe they happened. She has a HUGE birthday celebration planned for you. Streamers, hats, costumes, and of course, cream puffs. I know she will have lots of questions for me…I hope I have the right answers.
I have been telling your baby brother lots of stories about you. He sat in his bouncer next to me as I packed up all of my maternity clothes to give away, and he heard about how excited I was to buy elastic-waisted pants six-and-a-half years ago. He is a very good listener and such a happy little boy. I watch how your sister is with him and I think about how you might have been, a six-year-old veteran big sister.
Your sister and I came across this picture last night before she went to bed, and she asked me why we were making this face:
Sticking out your tongue was your new trick, and I was imitating you. Your sister immediately imitated you, too, and we giggled. I can laugh now without feeling like I’m betraying you. When you died I didn’t think I’d ever laugh again, but these siblings of yours are pretty funny. I’m sure you’d be laughing, too.
I really can’t believe you would be six today, it sounds so very old. The days without you seem to stretch on forever in front of me, and sometimes it’s a lot to take. But my love for you grows stronger every day, and while the memories I have with you are not enough, they sustain me while I make new memories with your siblings that are just as precious. I’d give anything to have the three of you together in just one memory, but I know that can only happen in my wildest dreams.
Happy birthday, darling girl. I love you forever.