Friday, October 16, 2009

Whispered Birthday

Our Anna would have been four today. I've been an emotional wreck all week leading up to it, it's almost as if my emotions are aware of the calendar even more than I am. Since the first anniversary of her due date we've had a whispered birthday party. I call it that because I am the only one that knows what the special dinner and cake are for ... the kids just think we are having cake for no reason, which is pretty cool to them.

Well, today we had to go to BJ's and I really didn't feel like it. I had Emily and Katherine in the cart (Emily doesn't usually ride, she's a big girl and walks, but at BJ's she loves that she can sit right next to Katherine.) and the bigger two were right beside me. I'd been crying all morning again and it was just tiring to put one foot in front of the other, I couldn't even think about facing other people.

In a moment of utter despair I just silently cried out to God and told Him that I needed a hug, I needed Him to hold me up long enough to get through the store. A few minutes later, both Katherine and Emily from their places in the cart, put their arms up and wrapped their four arms around my neck pulling me down to lay their heads on my shoulders. That was it. I knew that was my hug from God.

Those two bring such an amazing joy into my life, I can't imagine ever not having them and I thank God for them every day. I think Him for Abigail and Ian, too. It's just that even as I desperately wish I could know what Anna is like, I know that if I knew that, I would never have had the chance to know Emily and Katherine.

Four. I love four year old parties because the birthday child really knows what a birthday is by then. They are full of enthusiasm, and life.

I wonder, if Anna were here, what she would choose for her cake? A princess? Maybe a tea pot? Perhaps just pretty flowers. What would she have chosen for her birthday meal? It's these questions that have no answers that get me every time. What would her favorite color be? How am I supposed to plan a party for a four year old without knowing these things?

I still remember her first whispered birthday like it was yesterday. But it wasn't yesterday. It was October 16, 2006.

I've been dreading this day for weeks now. What would I do? How would I keep my hurt inside? I think the anticipation of the pain was more heartwrenching than the day itself.

I woke up this morning feeling like I didn't have enough to do. We had baked oatmeal for breakfast and carried on just like any normal day. I kept thinking of how busy I should be. I thought of the tasks I longed to be doing.

After lunch I decided that I would not pretend that it was a normal day any longer. The children and I made a delicious chocolate fudge cake. I set to prepare a nice dinner.

First birthdays are so fun! Though, this first birthday was a whispered one; only celebrated in my heart. My Anna didn't even make it to half her term of pregnancy, let alone a real day of birth on her due date. Who would ever imagine the lack of celebration would hurt still?

For all first birthdays I make two cakes. One for the well wishers and a tiny one just for the birthday child. This birthday cake was no different. I made a tiny heart saturated with whipping cream and embellished with red sprinkles to go atop the big cake. The family enjoyed the dinner and especially the wonderful treat of cake for "no reason".

I impressed myself when the tears stayed in check while I whispered a Happy Birthday to my Anna when cutting her cake. After the children were in bed I slipped outside for a walk in the cool night. I took her tiny heart cake with me. I walked down the street singing happy birthday over and over through tears that did not want to stay checked any longer.

I closed my eyes and pictured myself holding the cake for her to blow her candle out. At one point I glanced at the chocolate smudges on my fingers and thought of how that chocolate would have looked smeared all over a tiny little face. Oh, the desire to know what that face would have looked like! With a giggle and a smile she would squish her yummy discovery between her pudgy fingers, lifting those fingers to taste. Look at Momma squeal of delight would escape, a wriggle of excitement ...

The whispered birthday party was loud and joyful with my eyes closed. Then it was time to open my eyes. They opened to the stark reality that I was still holding a whole cake. An uneaten, unplayed with, unsmeared cake. What was I going to do with it? I didn't want to eat it. I didn't want anyone else to eat it. It was the birthday girl's cake.

It is now in my freezer. How long it will stay there, I have no clue. But that is where it is, and where it will stay for now.