When Constance was very little, I read all the parenting books for typical kids. In one, a child developmental psychologist recommended that children have as many other kids as their age to celebrate their birthday with. For example, if you are one year old, your ideal party would have one child in attendance, likely a sibling. This seemed sensible and so we celebrated Constance’s first birthday with her immediate family. To accommodate this self-imposed rule I organized three first birthdays with three different sets of grandparents. One of the lesser talked about benefits of divorce is the extra birthday cake. At the age of one Constance was a marvelous secret keeper.
Constance’s favorite thing about it seemed to be the dessert. Dessert is great; she was such a sensible kid.
At age one, your child’s life stretches before them. You think about all the firsts that lay before them: the first time they ride a bike, or drive a car, or kiss someone they love, or get a paycheck, or sign a lease, or travel somewhere exciting. You think about all the possibilities that lay before them with happy contentment.
When I think back, I wonder what I would have done differently if I had known she’d only have eight birthdays. I don’t know. I just don’t know. You cry all of your insides out and then you find yourself as grieved and empty as you were before.