Monday, May 09, 2016

Hey Nineteen

Dear Emma,

Today is your nineteenth birthday.  It's been over a year and a half since you left us, though it feels like a million years.  We are through the Year of Firsts, so this birthday doesn't feel quite as agonizingly raw as last year's.  It's more of a settled-in sadness.  Grief that sits in your bones, emerging like the pain of arthritis on a gloomy, rainy day.  Making you say, "oh, right.  There it is again."

I was thinking about what I was doing when I turned 19. My parents were stationed in El Salvador at the time.  Sam was there with them while your dad finished high school at a boarding school in New England, because the high school in Salvador wasn't any good.

I was in my second year at Virginia.  I had just pledged a sorority, was trying to figure out whether I wanted to major in something, and if so, what.  Exploring romances and adventures, going on road trips, staying out too late, having crushes, acting like a stupid teenager.

Where would you be now?  What would you be doing?  At the Naval Academy?  Studying engineering?  Having silly teenage adventures of your own, figuring out who you are in the world?

Thinking about that is the hardest part for me.  Of course I miss you - I miss talking to you and hearing about what you're up to.  I miss seeing you at Thanksgiving and at the beach.  But I didn't live with you or see you every day, so your absence feels different to me than it must for your dad and your sisters and your friends.  As much as anything else, I mourn the loss of the life you didn't get to live - the lessons and the heartbreaks and the adventures and triumphs that you would have experienced.  I mourn that loss for my brother and my nieces and my parents as well - knowing how hard it must be for them to not be with you.

We all loved you so much.  We still love you.

I was looking through old pictures and found this series of shots that I took when I was up visiting you when you were about four.  You had a little guitar and some sunglasses that Melba gave you and you were rocking out, singing and playing.  All sass and sunshine.

It was a joy to know you.  I will never stop loving you or thinking about you.

All my love,


No comments:

Post a Comment