Monday was Family Day in British Columbia, a day off for E and M and I (R wasn’t off because he works for the federal government and this was a provincial holiday). The kids and I had a wonderful day together. We stayed in our jammies longer than we usually can on a Monday morning, we skyped with grandparents, we walked the rainy neighbourhood streets looking for worms, we bought supplies to make Valentine’s cards, we went to the beach when the rain turned to just a fine mist and spent half an hour digging furiously, trying to build our castle (with a moat and drawbridge, of course!) before it began to pour again. While M napped, E made Valentine’s cards for all the kids in her class, we read from her chapter book, curled up on the couch together, and then we made banana muffins. After M’s nap, we went outside again in the drizzling rain to run in the muddy field that is the edge of Stanley Park and our building’s backyard. I was aware all day of what a treat it was, what an absolute stolen pleasure to have this extra day, just me and my kids, my beautiful, hilarious, snuggly little goofballs.

I thought of her all day long, too. This is just how it goes now. Family day and one of ours wasn’t here. It was the first thing I thought when I woke up. I lay in bed and stared out at the mountains, dark against the lightening sky, which is what I do every night: stare at the mountains and remember the night I came home from the hospital with her dead inside me. That night, I saw a shooting star and someday, I know, I will see one again. (I am grateful for this view we have, from seven floors up and right at the edge of our busy city, the unobstructed view of sky and the tallest fir tree, and the North Shore mountains and their twinkly lights. Every single night I turn to that view before I fall asleep and I remember her and I know that one day I will see that shooting star again.)

I thought of her when E came crawling, sleepy and bed warm, long arms and legs, under the covers with me, and then when M started to stir in his crib beside us. He stands up and says, ‘Hi Mommy! Hi Mona!’ in his sweet little still-sleepy voice, his wild curls, which I can’t bring myself to cut, like a blown-out dandelion puff around his grinning face. I thought of her when we were at the beach, digging holes, and I had one eye out, always, for the perfect rock or shell to add to her jar. I thought of her when I let E have my phone, while M was napping, so she could look at old photos and videos and I heard my voice in videos taken around the time Anja was born and then before she died, while I was pregnant, and before that. (I wonder if anyone else hears the difference in my voice? It hurts me to hear my old self. It hurts so much to notice the before and after of it all.)

I think of her all the time. I think of her one hundred times a day. A bajillion times a day, as E would say. We carry on. We laugh. We love. We carry on. And we miss her. We think of her, all day long, a bajillion times a day, we think of her.

She is our family. She is our family, too, and we miss her.