A few months back I was hit with the realization that Liliahna would be old enough for school this year. I realized my summer should have been spent in eager anticipation of "the letter" letting me know if she had been one of the lucky ones drawn for the pre-k program at the elementary school. I thought, she would have made it in, Kayse did so she would have. It was a moment in time, this conversation with myself, and then it was gone.
It was gone until it wasn't. It was gone until it came back and I mentioned it to a friend. It was gone until it came back and I posted it on Facebook. It was gone until it came back while shopping for school clothes. It was gone until it came back while shopping for school supplies. It was gone until it came back while I stood outside waiting for the school bus. It was gone until it came back as I entered an empty house and acknowledged that yet another milestone that should be celebrated is lost.
When one looses a child, they also loose the hopes, the dreams, the possibilities. They loose the milestones, the first full night of sleep, the first smile, the first steps, the first lemon, the first Christmas, the first birthday, the first day of school. There will be no first lost tooth, no first sleepover, no first time without training wheels, no first boyfriend. These things will never happen as she does not exist outside of my mind and my heart. A baby that was so real is now just a piece of my imagination; an imaginary friend whose story is whatever I make it.
I imagined her waiting outside for the school bus sitting with her sisters, smiling as she clenched her backpack. I wondered what kind of backpack she would have picked. I imagined her with short bouncy curls pulled back with a dainty headband that matched her cute little overalls (the ones the other girls didn't like, she would have loved them). I imagined her looking out the bus window, waving, and smiling as they pulled off. When the girls return this afternoon, I'll imagine how Liliahna's day went. I'll imagine her running up the front yard with a smile, dragging her backpack behind. I'll imagine her telling me about all her new friends, and her teacher and how nice she is. I'll imagine her pulling everything out of her backpack, and leaving it on the floor as she runs to get a snack from the cabinet.
For the next thirteen years I'll imagine. I'll imagine how she looks with every first day of school, with every last day of school. I'll imagine honor nights and Christmas programs. I'll imagine her as a gymnast and a basketball player and wonder if she would love either sport as much as her brother and sister. I'll imagine her sitting at the table covered in paint and wonder if she would love to create as much as Kayse or maybe she would prefer to bang on some piano keys or sing a lovely melody like her oldest sister.
I will imagine her entire life. I will imagine her hopes and dreams, her adventures, her struggles, her joys, her family, her future. I will imagine her life as the rest of us live out ours-I will write her story and embed it into my mind and my heart keeping her as real as my imagination will allow.
Another milestone. Another missed memory. Another day lost. Another day imagined.