Today would have been your 44th birthday. Ten years ago when two heartbroken little girls came to live with us, their grief counselor taught me to build in as many traditions and rituals to their lives as possible to help them frame up a new normal.
One of those traditions has been to celebrate you every year on your birthday. Until only a few years ago, the girls baked a red velvet cake every year. Every year, we have each written a letter to you which S has been the faithful steward of, hiding them away under her bed in a box. The first year, we lit the candles on your cake and decided to each read the letter we had written to you aloud. The girls letters were pretty conversational, updating you on the things they were involved in like learning to ride a bike and being on the basketball team. Mine was a letter of love and thankfulness that you had entrusted these treasures to us. When I couldn’t read it without crying, DH took it to read….but he couldn’t make it through either, and then we both felt a little silly as the girls seemed bewildered. You see, they have continued a long and newsy conversation with you all along, so it is less sentimental than practical to them.
Today I place the 10th letter to you into S’s tender care. It says the same thing this year that it has said every year. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You could have picked two people who had way more experience at parenting, you could have picked a black mother who would have known better how to do their hair, you could have picked a family with better financial resources. You could not have picked anyone who would have loved them any more.