Yesterday was Ryann's third birthday.
I should have been elbow deep in flour and buttercream, balloons and tissue paper. I should have been cleaning the house and wrapping presents and shielding little eyes from surprises.
Instead we spent the day quietly. The three of us wandering around town, missing our fourth.
Overall, it was actually a surprisingly enjoyable day. (As long as we choose to not include an unconnected, stressful close to the day.) We were intensly grateful to have Clifton with us. And we look forward to and dread sharing memories of his sister with him. We are sad that our children will have to grapple with death from the very beginning.
As time went on after Ryann died, we tended to think about what she would be like at that future time. What would Ryann the 2-year-old be like? What would the 2-and-a-half year old girlie be doing? And we've always been able to imagine her with us, as she should have been. But recently we find ourselves imagining a little 19-month-old girl back into our home. It's startling to realize that she would actually be three. Ryann is no longer a growing girl in our minds, but forever frozen at 19 months. Forever squealing 'daddy' and never to yell a 'mommy'. Spinning circles in our living room and taking off down the hall at a dizzy run. Calling squirrels diggin for nuts 'doggies' and squirrels scolding from trees 'birdies'. We imagine a 19-month-old Ryann playing with her 18-month-old and 2-and-a-half year old cousins. She should be three. Leading them around and showing off her little brother. Someday she will become the little sister to all of our children.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of babysitting my niece. Just me, Clifton, and Mei. I could feel what it would be like to juggle little Clif with 19-month-old Ryann. Even though that's not what it would be. And it was hectic. And full of life. And lovely.
|Grinning in Sabbath School.|
|Running away from hair-fixing before church.|
|Early potty training. Evidence of distraction attempts littering the floor.|
|Running back to me after children's story. A classic Ryann photo.|
|Determined to dress herself.|
|Concertizing with Daddy.|
|Clifton. The second light of our life.|