Today is July 18. Mirinda Dawn would have been 35 today. Odd how time flies. I feel like I should be 35 or 25.
I always get in a funk from June until her birthday. I hide it fairly well, I think, but it is always there like a thundercloud threatening to open up any minute.
Since I was already in a bad mood, I decided to get the saddle battle over with. Oddly enough Don had put most of the good bridles and halters in the pickup and they got stolen. So, I divided up the rest of the junk that was left. We didn’t get into a fight until I picked up three saddle blankets. It was short and venomous. I finally reminded him he got the house, the horses and blew through the money like there was no tomorrow so it seemed a little screwy for him to be complaining about an old saddle blanket with torn wear leathers. I got informed about how he had kept his mouth shut about all this and I got everything I wanted. Yeah, buddy.
I went to Hobby Lobby after that and bought roses for Mirinda. I settled on some pale pink roses and bought some lavender statice. I never know quite what kind of flowers to get her. Sometimes I am in a delicate mood and get wildflowers. Today, I was in a rose mood. Every woman deserves roses on her birthday.
I bought some new florist oasis and some floral clippers.
I took napkins with me. I say I am not going to cry, but I always do. When do you stop crying over a dead child? Never. The hurt stays in your heart until the day you die. It never goes away. It just hurts less as the years pass. Until their birthday. Then it is fresh and raw. It rips your heart out and reminds you of what might have been and all the things you should have done that you didn’t. If you had done this she might be alive today. If you hadn’t done that. In the end, you know it is your fault to some extent and you beg forgiveness for a life not lived. Once again, you feel or “hear” that sweet voice forgiving you, and the tears stop for a moment. If only you could forgive yourself, but you can’t. The what ifs are always there.
I cut the oasis and put it in the vase. Two dozen pale roses go in next with flutters of baby’s breath. I worked in a flower shop for a while, so I know a little about arranging flowers. It seems like wasted knowledge until July 18 and then I am happy to be able to do something for my little girl. The statice is last and it adds the right depth. Would she have liked them? I’m sure she would have. She would have been like her mother and loved plants and flowers.
What would we have done today? I might have stolen her away from her husband long enough to go shopping with her. She is long-legged like her brothers, probably with dark auburn hair and dark eyes. Turquoise for my daughter. It looks good with her coloring.
Afterward, we would go out to the house and fix birthday dinner. I make her a cake and decorate it. I learned to decorate cakes when I was six months pregnant with her. I wanted her to always know how much I loved her. I wanted to make her special cakes and cupcakes for her school parties.
She helps around the kitchen and we joke while we are cooking. Her kids are running around. Two of them fight over the cake batter. I set the flowers I made a few days ago on the cake and pipe the leaves and stems. She makes a crack about the candles.
And that’s where the fantasy always ends.
I come back to reality kicking and screaming, wanting to hold on to happiness for just a moment more.
Reality is a tiny grave with a bronze headstone. Hummingbirds drink out of morning glory buds for eternity. I lay down across the grave. The soil is moist and warm. My hands clench through the grass, wishing I could just pull myself into the ground and end the pain.
“Oh, baby girl. What would you have been?”
Again the sweet voice. “I would have been a mother and a writer, just like you, Mom. Go live for me. Don’t give up.”
Something breaks inside. The wracking pain stops. I push myself up off the grave and breathe. No more sobbing, but the tears continue. Some of them cling to the grass blades. They always do. I noticed it last year. A teardrop hanging from the grass and in the tear a rainbow. A promise of hope from the pain.
“Life shouldn’t be this damned hard!”
No, it shouldn’t, but there is always the promise, there is always hope.