Happy Birthday Stella!
I want you back.
The day you were born was the happiest day of my life. I remember it like it was yesterday – the sky was mostly cloudy that day but the sun managed to burst its way through the clouds and fill the room from every angle, when you arrived to change our lives forever. I remember cradling your tiny head in my hands – tears dripping from my eyes onto your head full of strawberry hair – seconds before someone yelled – “It’s a girl!” It was like my life started at 4:03p.m. on that perfect Saturday afternoon.
Today, your mama and I will take our heavy hearts to visit your tree and bench at Riverdale Farm. Before we load up the car to go, I will put the candle, in the shape of a number 5, that I bought at the local party supply store, in my coat pocket. We’ll stuff as many balloons that will fit into the back of the van and we’ll stop at Tim Horton’s for a box of chocolate Tim Bits on the way. We’ll tie balloons to your tree and lean the candle up against its trunk. We’ll eat Tim Bits and we’ll think of you. We’ll think about how funny you were from the moment we met you. We’ll hear your infectious cackle bounce off the inside of the walls of our hearts – that are forever cracked from the pain of missing you. People walking through the park will glance over and smile (as they usually do) – they don’t realize that we’re celebrating the life of a little girl that never got to be 5….or 4. They don’t realize that right underneath the surface, there are two mommies drenched in grief.
The truth is, Stella, I want you back.
Every minute of every day – I want you back. I want to take you to swimming and soccer on Saturday afternoons. I want to drop you off at birthday parties and pick you up from your first sleepover. I want you to curl up with your cousin, Gracie, and watch Frozen on Sunday mornings. I want you to bully your brothers and boss your little cousin, Xavier, around.
I want you to be HERE, with me.
I want you to have a backpack and I want to make your lunches for school. Lately, when I watch your friends play, I find myself imagining what you would look and sound like as a five year old kid. I imagine your red curls, dangling past your shoulders and your long, stretched out frame, with knobby knees. I can hear your voice. It’s raspy. You are the leader of the pack. Just like you always were. I love remembering how much you loved your birthday and birthdays in general, for that matter. Nothing made you happier than a cake filled with candles heading in your direction. Even when you could no longer sit up or talk, you always managed to figure out how to arch your back and move your torso and push out a “yyeahhh” as soon as the lights dimmed and the first notes of Happy Birthday began.
Today, your Auntie Juju, Auntie Andgie and cousin Gracie will make you a Stella and Sam cake and Uncle Tristan and Dee Dee will make you cup cakes. Your beloved grandparents, aunts, and uncles will cram into your little bungalow to celebrate your life. You see, even though we’re all still shattered from the loss of you – we couldn’t think of anything else we’d rather do than to remember and celebrate the day you were born. We will always come together to honour and celebrate you. You mattered.
We’ll sit on your couch and watch your Auntie Heather do funny imitations of you telling her that her “mouth was dirty” one morning. We’ll laugh out loud remembering all of the times you would say “no – I don’t like you” not only to each one of us, but to perfect strangers too! We’ll talk about how funny you were from such a young age and how you had inside jokes with people even though you were a toddler. We’ll remember how you loved to hold your baby brothers and how much you loved them……most of the time. We’ll remember how much you loved all of us in your own way. We’ll remember how you used to call watermelon “waterlemon” and how you called Aldwych Park “sandwich park”. We’ll smile as we picture you leaning over the fence at Riverdale Farm, yelling “Pee-yew Stinky Pigs! Don’t pee on the ground, pee in the potty!” We’ll remember how much you loved accessories and how you insisted on wearing five pairs of underwear on top of your pants to daycare. We’ll remember how much you loved your froggy boots and how many hours in a row you could watch, and enjoy, Dora the Explorer. We’ll remember how you were the youngest human on earth to watch the Golden Girls. We’ll remember how you knew every word to the theme song. We’ll remember how you adored your stuffed animals – Sweet Pea, Giraffy and of course – Pink Kitty. We’ll remember how your favourite colours were green and purple and how deeply you loved cupcakes.
We’ll remember everything about you.
We’ll put five candles on your cake and we’ll sing Happy Birthday to you as tears stream down our faces. We’ll eat cupcakes.
And when the party is over and our family has gone home, your mama and I will sit quietly and remember our little girl. We’ll remember the weight of your body as we held you in our arms, the smell of your curls and the feeling of your soft cheek against ours. We’ll remember the things that no one else gets to know – just us.
We will remember you. Always.
Happy Birthday Big Girl!