She came into the world at 8:54AM on June 16th, 1994 and I held my breath until she took her first. Then came that little cry. It was tiny, and fragile and so sweet.
Dannica passed away on the evening of the 14th of November, 2012. At 7:53PM I took my first breath without her. This was immediately followed by the first minute, the first hour, the first time I’d walk back into my house, her room. More followed right behind. The first time I’d sleep. The first time I’d awaken having forgotten. The first time I’d wonder for only a split second if I’d dreamt it. The day that followed the first realization that it wasn’t a dream was my first Thursday on earth without her, the first garbage pick up day. It was the longest day of my life despite the shortage of daylight hours indicating the approach of the year’s shortest day.
The first birthday to come around was my own; the day we chose to hold Dannica’s memorial celebration of life service and the day before Thanksgiving. A while back, Dannica had asked what I wanted for my birthday. I thought about it and I told her I wanted pictures. I wanted photos of my my kids; of her and her brother. It’s been years since any professional portraits have been done, but I prefer the ones that aren’t professionally done. I’d imagined the two of them going out with their cameras and taking photos of each other and getting some shots of the two of them together smiling, laughing, being silly, having fun.
The week between Dannica’s passing and the memorial service I spent sorting through a lifetime, a short lifetime, of photos. It felt good to immerse myself in the memories that had made her smile so much. I copied and scanned, printed and cut and filled a giant frame with photos to be displayed at the service. When my family arrived from out of town, I set them to work cutting and pasting photos into several journals that I’d purchased for people at the memorial to write in. Happy birthday…thank you for the photos. Now, I wish I’d have answered her question differently. What I want for my next birthday is what I really wanted for my last one, for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, New Years & every day for the rest of my life… her…back.