I was in a classroom and a student asked me how many kids I have. I paused. Too long. As if counting. As if I didn't know. Finally, I stammered, "Um. I have two." Gaining speed, my sentences toppled on top of each other. "My son, Garrett, is in 2nd grade. My son, Matthew, is in kindergarten." My daughter, Kate, is in Heaven.
I don't really talk about it a lot. I can sense when people are just plumb ready for me to move from, "I'm doing okay," to, "I'm great, how are you?" And I oblige. I pick up on the fact that people would prefer if my Facebook posts returned to, "Today Garrett announced that since finding out how babies are made, he has absolutely no plans to ever get married." Instead of, "My arms ache in the absence of my child." So I try. I go through the motions until the motions feel normal.
But then, Easter.
Last week I was putting together the boys' baskets and it suddenly hit me. By all earthly assumptions, I'm supposed to have a three week old. Of course, the Father always knew that the heavenly realms would welcome her before she saw the light of one of our days, but if...
If she hadn't died, she'd be here. She'd be in my arms and she'd be small and there would be an Easter basket for her. There would have been tiny diapers and a small Easter dress. Instead, there is an empty room.
Garrett says he'd be having so much fun right now. He'd hold her and help with her and love her.
Matthew says he wants to go to Heaven so he can visit her.
Troy buys an Easter lily and dedicates it to Kate.
I cry silently in the safety of these walls. I stare at two baskets and I am so thankful that they are here but, still, I wish that there were three. I want to visit her grave and I cannot because it's miles and states away. I smile and tell people I'm great.
Sometimes it's the truth.