I wrote this 8 months and 3 days after CTG and I intersected with bullets.
I miss her.
Remember when we spent the afternoon taking pictures of the flower pot in my courtyard? You started out directing the shoot but quickly assumed control over both the creative and technical sides of the equation. My role was to keep my shadow out of your light..... and to explain, once again, just how to press the button half-way down to focus and then shift the camera for visual interest. You held your finger down and tried to look at me at the same time that you were re-framing the shot and it was all I could do not to laugh.
Yes, sweetheart, just like that. Just exactly and perfectly like that.
Remember when you and your brother and I were at the Chinese buffet restaurant and I said that you could eat whatever you wanted and promised not to rat you out to your parents? We discussed, seriously and thoughtfully, the question of taste versus obesity versus self-control... right before you decided that "every once in a while can't be bad," and got up to refill your plate.
I didn't tell you that your mom and I had had the same conversation ourselves as you two were getting organized. We agreed with you, you see. Every once in a while isn't bad at all, especially on a special day with Ms. Suzi. Then, I made her the same promise I made you. I promised not to tell.
Right then, I was the filling in that love sandwich of yours, and it felt just fine. Just fine, indeed.
Remember when I tied the apron around your neck and gave you the glass water pitcher and asked you to deal with the ice and the tumblers on the Thanksgiving Day table? G'ma helped you problem solve the logistics, but you did all the heavy lifting yourself. You made sure we all noticed that it was done and done well, but only after you had finished the task. And then you asked what else you could do. After all, you said, "I'm already wearing the outfit."
Sweetheart, I want you to do the same this year, too.
You should be on your way to New York City with the 49 other children who are Faces of Hope to join in the 10 year anniversary festivities planned to celebrate your collective birthday.... the day the towers fell. Sure, most of them will be feeling sad about the absence in the skyline and what it represents, but you'd have been certain that they remembered and celebrated the wonderfulness around them.
You.... the future.... engaged and interested and willing to put in the effort to achieve a result. You.... with your big smile and kind heart. You.....
I'll watch that same cohort of kids grow older as the anniversaries roll by, decade by decade. I'll wonder about your face and your shoe size and your hairstyle but will be certain of your spirit. You were a cheerleader for the passions in your life - your family, your country, your teams. The world was your oyster and you knew it. You were going to be something, you just weren't sure what.
"Look at what one 9 year old girl can do." I've heard your dad say it again and again and I believe every word of it. Look.... pay attention, because my girl did. What.... a foundation, a statue, inspiring 8 girls to play hardball. One 9 year old....
Who should be strolling down Madison Avenue with your mother right about now, shopping for accessories.
Who should be writing me a thank you note for the present we chose together, because the experience was part of my reward.
Who should be the tallest kid in your grade and proud of it.
Who should be here, right now.
Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. I'm having a cupcake with a candle and I'm going to sing the birthday song and I'm not going to cry. I'm going to remember laughing over the camera and the greasy cuisine and remember the other thing your dad says... Don't be sad. She would not want us to be sad.
I can almost see you here in front of me, hands on your hips, head tilted and eyes blazing. No, ma'am. I promise. I will not cry.