I lit a candle for her in my kitchen tonight while I finished my Thanksgiving preparations. The flame flickered while cranberries bubbled on the stove and I mixed together a pumpkin pie.
She should have been six today. It has been six and a half years since we said goodbye.
I had no idea then how loss would change me, how her death - and later the death of her sister - would undo me.
The pain of losing them still hurts more than I generally care to admit to myself, even with three healthy children, even with a fresh baby to hold in my arms.
Tonight though, I am allowing myself to feel her absence, to think about how she should have been going with her Grammy this week to pick out her first American Girl doll, to imagine that unlike my living children, she might have looked like me.
Tonight my tears mingle with my preparations for tomorrow’s day of gratitude, and I remember Avaleen Hope. I am thankful that she was. I miss the little girl she would have been.