Tomorrow would have been your 18th birthday. You might have been as tall as me, perhaps even taller, God help you, if your brothers are anything to go by. I'll always wonder, but never know.
This will be our eighth Christmas without you. We miss you always, but never so much as at this time of year, with your birthday and Christmas only five days apart.
That first Christmas without you--two months after you left us--was awful. We didn't even put up the tree that year. We drove up to Georgia and spent the holidays with your dad's parents, siblings, and their kids. I didn't send out any Christmas cards, nor did I do any shopping, except for your two brothers. Even then, I shopped online, because I couldn't set foot in Toys-R-Us or the Disney Store--or anywhere I might see toys and little girl things--without bursting into tears right on the spot. What made it even worse was the sudden explosion of Powerpuff Girls merchandise, right after you left. Fiona, you would have gone nuts! (While your dad, who so loved to spoil you, would have gone broke.)
The second Christmas, we did put up a tree, but with one change. Instead of a brightly twinkling, multi-colored star, we topped the tree with a dark-haired, blue-eyed angel. Do you know how hard it is to find an angel who's dark-haired AND blue-eyed, just like you? But I finally found one at Target.
That year, I still shopped only online. But I did send out Christmas cards--and I signed not only my name, your dad's, and your two brothers', but your name, too. Because you're still a member of our family, still with us if only in spirit. And such spirit! You've always had it.
All these years later, I still sign your name to the cards. I always will.
It took about five years before I could set foot in a toy department again without going into a tearful meltdown. I don't know what hurts more--going to the girls' section only to set off my waterworks, or avoiding the girls' section because I'm afraid of setting off those waterworks. One could argue that either way, I have no business going to the girls' section anymore, and that there's no point in dwelling over what might have been, simply because it will never be.
Indeed, if you were still here, I might not be going to that girls' section anymore, anyway. You'd be a young lady now. What would catch your fancy nowadays?
Every time I see a picture of this girl, born only 93 days after you, I think of you and what you might look like now. But I know you'd be just as beautiful as she is.
And you're certainly, forever and always, just as much a princess.
Though it saddens us you're no longer here, know that the memories of you always bring us joy.
We love you, Bunny Buttons!