Tuesday, May 09, 2017


Dear Emma,

Today is your twentieth birthday.

This one is hitting me hard. The big roundness of that number.  I know that twenty-one is the big milestone for adulthood, but twenty still feels grown up to me. You would be finishing up your second year of college, getting ready to head out to work and play and enjoy the summer. I see you facing up toward the sun with your eyes closed and your arms outstretched, letting it warm you, filling you with life and hope.

Every year I think about what you would be doing. What would you be majoring in? Would you do a semester abroad? Would you be seeking out internships? Would you be traveling? Would you be in love?

Right now it's playoff hockey season and I keep thinking of Thanksgiving the last year you were alive. You came with us to the hockey game, wearing your dad's Bob Mason sweater. We ate dinner in Chinatown at Tony Cheng's before heading over to the Verizon Center. My dad had bought extra tickets because we had a bigger group than usual, and the two extras were separate from the original four, so you and Jason sat in the extra seats and had a great time together. The two of you always had a special bond that made me smile.

We're heading to the Outer Banks in a couple of months - another place where the memories of you flood over me. Your two year old self dancing naked in front of the TV and singing along to "I Wanna Be Like You," from The Jungle Book. Going to see Blue Crush with you when you were five and then, back at the house, pretending we were surfing. The summer after your accident, with your short pink hair, you and my mom walking to the roadside market in Corolla for corn and fresh fish. The last summer, a month before you died, watching the World Cup with you, even though you were spending most of the time on your phone chatting with a dude.

Those snippets of memories keep you with me, particularly when I write them down every year.

We all miss you and think of you every day.