The writing myth of Hemingway's saddest story, "baby shoes, never worn," can be summed up today as "16th birthday cake, uneaten". Ana told me on Monday that her oldest brother really wanted a cookies and cream cake, so here we are. Another year, another cake made with love and holding candles that won't be blown out. Memories of a baby boy so little and wiggly, with tiny fingers that wrapped around my pointer finger... But no matter how tightly I held him or how much I loved him, he couldn't stay long in this world. Instead of giving him car keys and taking him to get his driver's license, I'm clutching a blanket that my mind tells me still smells like that sweet little guy and looking at the few photographs that serve as a reminder of his short little life.
The next two weeks in time are a blank in my brain, that in between time that I was still pregnant with his twin sister while mourning that she would never get to grow up alongside him. I was too young and naive then. Even though I knew the odds were against her survival, I still held onto that hope. In this life, these weeks only serve to remind me that I'll soon be repeating this birthday grief and memories, only this time for my oldest daughter instead of my oldest son.
Today, hug your children tight. Call your people and tell them that you love them. Know that life can change in a split second and everything you know could be destroyed. You will rebuild. You'll never be the same. Who you could have been will be gone forever. But you will be able to pick up the pen and continue writing your journey. Sometimes you can only manage a blank page... Sometimes you manage book upon book. I like to think that while his book was thin, my sweet little guy's story is woven into the life we've made and continue to make.
Happy 16th birthday, Nicholas.