Today should be Emma’s twenty-first birthday.  Oh boy, did she have plans!  She was finally going to drink a beer that she liked…never-mind that when we were in Mexico she tried and hilariously turned up her nose to beer, margaritas, pina coladas, etc.  In her mind, twenty-one meant that all the sudden she’d like what her dad drank.  (No amount of explaining that she didn’t have to like alcohol seemed to matter.)

She had other plans, too.  Some too wild to put in writing. Some funny.  Some serious.

And here I sit today thinking about what could have been.

Six plus months have gone by since that day.  About a month ago I began to drift back into myself.  My humor began to return as did my outlook.  Yet, not a day goes by that something doesn’t just stop me in my tracks and remind me of her;  smiles and snuggles we shared as well as traded words that both of us immediately regretted.  Thoughts of what I could have done, should have done…

However each day I wake up, fight through the “should haves” and choose to focus on the memories that reinforce my love for that child who became a woman in front of my eyes.  How I longed to see her outgrow and overcome that mental illness. How I longed to see her lead a happy and fulfilled life though saddled with challenges none of us would ask for.

I choose to focus on how she hunched over and giggled while watching Snow Dogs or the way she would say with exasperation “Daaaad!” when I shared with her a joke that I thought was funny.

Today Marie and I will stop by Costco, pick up some paper towels and disinfectant and deliver it to Emma’s favorite animal shelter, Unleashed.  It’s also fitting that today Inclusion Connections marches in the Old Settler’s parade. She loved doing that.

Tonight many of the people that loved her and fought for her will eat at Red Robin to celebrate her memory and maybe tell an Emmasim or two.  She loved the endless fries and the colorful restaurant.  We’ll toast to her memory and talk about the day we will meet again.

Happy birthday, Emma.  I’ll always love you.