Today was E’s first day of kindergarten. She was so excited, has been excited for weeks.

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Me: What are you most looking forward to about kindergarten?

E: MATH!!!

(Pause)

E: Mommy, what is math?

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She wore a red and orange sundress and insisted on bringing her new backpack even though we were only going for 45 minutes today. She waited patiently to be told where to go, and looked back only once, apprehensive, at us before heading into the library with all the other students. She looked tall, grown up, very little left of the baby she was not so very long ago. My big girl. I was so proud. So full of love for her. And sad, too, for the end of the days that were just ours.

And sad for the girl that wasn’t there today. Little Anja, who would have been toddling around, wondering where her big sister had gone, visiting with all the other little ‘appropriately spaced’ siblings waiting in the gym.

The girl who will never go to kindergarten.

The girl who no one sees but me.

Her absence was a palpable thing today: in the apartment as I prepared a special breakfast for E and got dressed in a rush; on the walk to school with a little neighbour friend and her mother; in the hallways filled with other parents and kids, so many, many kids.

Except for one.

Oh, my Anja. Little ghost girl, hovering over this milestone day because you won’t have any for yourself. Because you will be present for every one of your sister’s and brother’s milestones. Because you are always here, even if you are gone; even if no one sees you but me.

 

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