March 28, 2012. It's Ainsley's 2nd birthday and in all honesty, it's not very happy at all. I think deep down inside, Ainsley herself felt that it's not very happy but we all try our best.
It's a Wednesday, a day that Erick and I would be going to work, Olivia to school, and Ainsley would be going to day care. But instead of Olivia going to school, her body would be on a plane and would arrive back in Pittsburgh. For several months after this day, I would look up at airplanes flying over me and think of her lifeless body on an airplane, cold and alone.
We decide to keep things as normal as possible today for Ainsley so we get ready and we take Ainsley to day care but a few hours late. Just as Flo had made cookies for Olivia when she turned two, Nancy had made cookies for Ainsley to take to day care. Nancy, Flo's daughter, kept the tradition going by baking cookies shaped like the number 2. Erick, Ainsley, and I drove down to day care to celebrate Ainsley's birthday with her teachers and classmates. The teachers had all learned of our tragedy but it's still so awkward at this early stage to walk into a room knowing that everyone knows our loss. Everyone sings "Happy Birthday" to Ainsley but the lump in my throat is overwhelming me so I'm whispering it as Ainsley sits on my lap and Erick is taking pictures of this, what should be joyous, day.
Later that day, we went into Olivia's room with Ainsley and reached underneath her bed to grab the birthday present that she had waiting for her precious baby sister. It was the Sing-a-ma-jig that Olivia bought a few weeks earlier. There it was, in a gift bag, with a card that was decorated and signed by Olivia and Hannah. "This little light of mine"would be sung when you pressed the Sing-a-ma-jig's belly while it's mouth moved. What an appropriate song to give to her cherished little sister. Olivia was so excited for Ainsley to turn 2 but she would miss this day and every other birthday to come.
Family and friends start to arrive at our house once again and one of my friend's aunt bought a cake for us to all continue to celebrate Ainsley's big day. I didn't even think to have a cake. Once again, the generosity and thoughtfulness continues from all around us.
I have no idea how we can mustard up a smile but we did. Trust me, it's completely forced.
We continue to celebrate like it's any other normal birthday. Erick and I bought Ainsley her own scooter with 3 wheels so that she could follow Olivia and Hannah around on their scooters. She would have loved that. Ainsley loved to hang out with Olivia and Hannah but just couldn't keep up with them. Now she could. It's funny how everything you do revolves around your children. What would make them happy? Six days ago, this scooter would have been the best gift ever. Today, it's just a toy. It's now a reminder other absence. To this day, sAinsley still scoots around on her 3 wheeled scooter and I follow on Olivia's. She has no idea of what could have been, but I do.