She should be here now, snuggled against my chest, heavy and warm in my arms.
My girls should be soaking in lots of grandma time, smothering their little sister with kisses and clamoring for their next turn to hold her.
Instead, on the day Lily was to be born, we visit her grave and release balloons, one for each week she lived inside of me. It is a beautiful, sunny afternoon, the kind of afternoon one might describe as perfect. But nothing is quite right.
I'd pictured the balloons being released together and then spreading across the sky, fading to individual dots as they rose. But by the time we arrive at the cemetery, balloons filling every empty space in our car, the strings are hopelessly tangled, and we are forced to release them as a unit. "It's not what I wanted," I tell CJ as the blob of balloons drifts away, and his shoulders slump.
Later, we visit some water gardens as a family. The toddler is happy to wonder the grounds and take in the water lilies and the fish, but the five year-old sulks. She is bored. Why can't she buy a fish? she wants to know. What is there to do here?
There are a few bright moments by the pond. The girls laugh as the greedy swarm of fish gobble the little pellets we toss to them from the dock. But mostly, the air is humid, and I keep brushing gnats away from my face, and I just want this day to be over.
Later, when the girls are asleep and CJ is cleaning up the kitchen, I cry in the shower, loud enough that CJ comes up to ask me if I am okay. I am so tired of feeling sad, I tell him.
We've gotten texts throughout the day from family and friends who remember - and flowers and beautiful earrings shaped like tears, earrings that remind me that God values our tears (Psalm 56:8), that He is here too, somewhere.
But none of this makes me feel better, not today. I fall asleep holding the tiny blanket my Lily was wrapped in at the hospital, and I wake up to my five year-old planning a baby shower for her baby doll Lily who she tells me has just been born.
"Hold the baby," she commands. "And open these presents."
And so I do. I sit with her while she too imagines what should have been.