Her ninth birthday passed and I didn’t mark it here. I thought about writing throughout the day, but…

Nine. Some people remembered. Most didn’t. My mom sent flowers, and we had a pretty little cake, gingerbread spice with whipped cream icing that somehow felt perfect for a girl with a wintry ninth birthday.

When E turned nine she had a slime making party and a sundae bar. It seems it was not that long ago, and somehow makes Anja’s ninth birthday inconceivable.

M and I talked about it on the walk through the forest to school. He is matter-of-fact and sweet. “I’m going to find some things for the Anja jar today, Mommy,” and he did, bringing home three little sticks I could just barely squeeze down the sides of the jar, packed with nine years of collected rocks and shells and tree cones and sea glass.

We love you, Anja. We miss you.