Five looked like this –
A mercifully quite night, a small candle burning and scenting the room faintly with honey, a glass of pink champagne. I cried, and I played the songs that free my tears – Indigo Rose, by Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem; You can Close Your Eyes, by James Taylor; Baby Mine by Alison Krauss. I sang his lullaby and conjured up the feeling of his small body in my arms when I sang it to him the first time.
I said his name, let the sounds of it send ripples through the quiet night. Theodore Isaac. Huckleberry. Trickster Baby. Teddy.
I sat and waited through the transition – birthday to midnight to deathday. Children aren’t meant to be mayflies.
I can’t help but think of that phantom birthday that never was. The one with balloons and ruckus, and running, and presents. I can’t help but think about what five would have meant, the chaos and joy and noise of it. The mess and the love.
This year we’d just returned from a family wedding and both N and I were preparing for the new school semester that would start in a week, so I was busy. I was busy and I forgot how these days can hit me, how I can be fine – just fine – on the 14th and a teary-eyed wreck on the 15th and 16th.
N was out of town, the first year we’ve been apart on these days, so this year the quiet and isolation were maybe especially pronounced. It had its own lonely and stark beauty, this birthday that we don’t celebrate publicly or really mention much, and I set aside time to make it as beautiful as I can, but it isn’t the kind of beauty anyone asks to carry. Maybe that’s why I spend these days (figuratively, at least) on my knees.
I am fine. I will be fine.
I want my boy. My baby. My big, five-year-old boy.
I love you, Teddy.