In another life, you are unwrapping gifts on your third birthday. Sitting quietly on the floor, as you tear back the paper, carefully putting it beside you so you can focus on the Tonka trucks and tractors. You smile a toothy grin at your momma, clearly thrilled to add to your stash of big boy toys.
You would be arguing with Gracie who wants nothing more than everything you have. She would look up at you, her eyes pleading for you to let her push your truck around, tears welling in her eyes. And maybe, because you're the best big brother ever, you might let her play with you- but only on your terms.
We would let you watch whatever you wanted the morning of your birthday. Dressed in footed pyjamas left over from Christmas, your blond hair shining after your bath. We would read stories to you both, and you would rub your momma's belly the same way your sister does- so excited to meet your new little sister.
In another life, this is what today should be.
That life is not ours.
There will be no trucks or tractors, no big boys clothes.
The house is scattered with pink ride-in cars, a Little People Princess castle, and your dad's shoes your sister insists on wearing around the house. It's all pinks and purples, very little blue. There was no battery-operated car under the tree this year, no little boy waiting to open it.
So much was taken on the day we lost you. Our hopes and dreams for you, the kisses we would have smothered you in each.and.every.day.
So what remains?
A few memories of cuddles in the dark, or stolen smooches, of stroking your velvet hair.
What remains is our love for you.
The love your sister must sense when we speak about you, or show your pictures to her.
What remains is the longing for the little boy we knew for only a few short days. The desire to raise a son.
The desire, ultimately, to raise you.
We love and miss you every day little boy. Happy third birthday little man.