Today, you would have turned one. I so wish you could have.
I would have done what I've done with all your sisters on their first birthday: strapped you into your high chair and given you your first piece of cake, sans fork. Chocolate, of course. You would likely also have been sans shirt, since I've learned through my dozen years of motherhood that I'd rather wash baby bellies off than a baby bib, a baby shirt, and baby pants. Diapers are the best eating costumes for one year-olds, like you.
Except you never needed a diaper, did you? Huh. Advanced in so many ways, you heavenly kid you. Instead of just toddling your way out of babyhood, you've now spent over a year (in some timeless way) beholding the Eternal Light. Lux perpetua
It is you who continually teach me, little one. There is little I can teach you.
Other than to tell you stuff like what your birthday here would have entailed (you'd be stripped and grinning, covered in cake: a very classy, delicious disaster), and to tell you how I arbitrarily decided that August 15 was, indeed, to be your birthday, given that you were never, actually, born.
You see, your big sister Felicity (how odd and delightful it is to call my littlest one here a "big" sister) was born on September 15, the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows, as I ruefully noted while getting checked into the hospital almost three years ago that day. I was glad her name meant "happiness," making up for a dolorous-sounding day.
So you were due around September 1st. I tended to give birth a couple weeks early. Therefore, August 15, exactly a month before Felicity, and also on a feast of Mother Mary... well, that just seemed appropriate when picking a birthday out of hat. Particularly since it is the feast of the Assumption, when Our Lady arrived at where you are.
Since today is a Holy Day, it will also ensure I'm always at Mass on "your birthday," in the presence of the Lord for whom earth and heaven are no further apart than a footstool and a throne. I like being close to you, little one, older one, sweet, sassy and super-involved one. Our whole family is saturated in your prayers; thank you for them! You've been busy, I can tell.
But because you're so darn cool and invisible and stuff, I can't treat you to a messy cake decorated by your doting sisters today, can't take a million pictures of you liking your frosting-covered hands before bath, breast, and bed. Instead... well, I've got a cute teddy bear "Happy Birthday" balloon which I'll take to your grave.
I'll kneel on that precious rectangle of dirt and try to drive it as far into the ground as I can so it stays long enough to be noticed by the other grieving moms who come to decorate tiny graves with little toys and cherub statues that the lawn mower frequently breaks and smashes into dust. Every token I've brought you has been destroyed or disappeared for the sake of greener, trimmer grass. Even the windcatchers and chimes I securely tied to nearby trees have been taken away.
Frankly, it sucks. The whole thing sucks. Children don't belong in "Babyland, Section 29B." They just don't.
Now I've done it: I'm venting in your birthday letter, but I know you're somehow okay with that, patting my hand, shaking your head and smiling, telling me it's all somehow okay in the grand scheme of things. Because unlike me, you understand much better "the Grand Scheme of Things," and you know things ultimately won't "suck."
And you can handle my poor language, because... you're more like my teen than my toddler. And in some ways, more like my mother than my child. How wonderfully strange, how strangely wonderful.
I love you Pepper. Loving you has taught me so much about that word: "Love." And about God. And about the person called Katie that I get to be here, while you get to be Perpetua by "the river of the water of life."(Rev.22:1) It's sad, it's glorious, and it's many things in between
Meanwhile, I have your earthly sisters to tend to. I'm typing feverishly on my laptop while no less than two of the kiddos have tried to climb onto my lap, computer and all. One is now yelling "I'm hungry!" while the other is hanging upside on the couch bellowing, "Look! I'm a fireman!" Oh, and we are watching "Bubble Guppies." I'd explain that nonsense, but you really aren't missing much.
But I am missing you today. And I'll miss you everyday until my own soul pierces the sky to finally hold you again. I long to be where you are. And yet, you're now whispering, "I'm right here, Mom." And I somehow see you wink and hear you giggle until your sister demands a drink and I'm back to wiping mouths and cleaning floors in this vale of spilled lemonade and broken toys.
Just like I have to do now: calls for "Shaun the Sheep," the need for baths and yet another snack (really kids? really!?) are becoming increasingly apparent. I've gotta keep being Mom over here.
You keep being you, beautiful girl. Say hi to Gabriel for me... I'm so proud of my two "heaven kids."
Happy Birthday from your family here, where with baked goods and candles we'll tick off the years till we hopefully join you in eternal bliss. Well that and such celebrations offer a perfectly good and reasonable excuse to eat chocolate. I'd tell you all about that, but I know there's chocolate where you are. Like, duh. ;)
A thousand kisses and a million hugs,