It was a beautiful party, sweetheart. Your mom looked svelte and your dad was beaming. Your brother keeps getting taller and taller and he kept laughing, louder and louder, as we stood, back to back, measuring how small I am in comparison.
I squelched the tears that came, unbidden, as I flashed back to the times we've done this before, those times when you were laughing along with the rest of us.
We miss you.
There were stars in the sky and a golden cast to the moon and the patio at Marriott's Starr Pass was filled with casually elegant adults. You'd have been impressed with the accessories and the shoes; oh, how you would have loved the shoes. I did pretty well in my Taryn Rose black flats. You can't fault me for leaving my heels behind; I thought walking should trump style. I can imagine you arguing the point, and it's making me smile. Thanks, for that.
Janos Wilder was there, creating ceviche and looking extremely James Beard-y. Award winning chefs get to do that, I guess. The big shots were out last night, celebrating the good deeds being done in your name. More than five hundred people paid lots of money to share the love. As your dad says, just look at the impact one nine year old girl has had.
As Tommy LaSorda reminded us last night, you never got to celebrate turning ten.
The night was filled with moments like these; pride and joy and crushing sorrow. Standing below your butterfly, shadowed on the great big wall behind the party, no one seemed surprised by the tears running down my face. I buried my head in my cocktail, accepted the hugs, and then we moved on, because that's all you can do in a situation like this.
What we want the most... to see your smile.... to share the outfits and the foodstuffs and the dancing with the girl with the big brown eyes.... we can't have any of that. What we have is one another. We lean on the others who were there that day, all of us connected, forever, by bullets. We cut to the chase when sharing our grief; there's no need to skirt the edges. We know.
"Why do you have your Blue Cross card?" Col. Bill's wife asked me, upon seeing that it, my license, and a credit card were all I had with me last night. "Because anything can happen any time..." I began, and I didn't have to go much further. She and he had been there, too. They know it's not hypervigilance.... it's an acceptance of reality.
I wish I'd never learned the lesson.
There were a lot of variations on that riff last night. If if's were skiffs, we'd have a navy. If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a wagon... which is the PG version of the original yiddish If my grandmother had balls, she'd be my grandfather and then there was one I couldn't hear over the band. The citizen heroes, the victims, the families.... if... if... if... we've learned that it gets us no where, fast. It is what it is, and so we move on.
Your dad reminds us that you wouldn't want us to be sad, so I plaster a smile on my face and I shake Mark Kelly's hand and meet his fifteen year old daughter and, once again, I feel my throat tighten. She had the same thoughtfulness behind her eyes that I found so appealing in you. She was genuinely glad to make my acquaintance; you'd have liked her, I know. Gabby wasn't there; neither were you.
The silent auction was a feast of baseball memorabilia. I had fun imagining you trying out the bats, telling stories about the players, imagining yourself in one of those uniforms. Your aunt Kim and your parents gave us hugs and smiles and we shared some more of the special CTG love and then it was time to take my achy hip and my broken heart home.
It was a beautiful party, Christina. I wish that there had been no reason for it at all.