There is a vacuum where E should be.
Her pictures are all over the house. There is a pack of Dis*ney vacation pictures that were in a drawer in the bedroom until the kids got into them. Now they are strewn among the mess in the bed. The baby loves them. I wake up between my girls in the morning with Miriam holding a picture of the missing girl, E's is often the first face I see when I open my eyes, smiling back at me from the life I bestowed when I thought I wasn't good enough for her.
Less than a month from her birthday I am feeling the familiar tightness in my chest, the tension that is building, building, up to the crecendo of sadness and regret, peaking in the cold stillness of January.
I don't know what to give her for her birthday. What does she like? What does she want? What will she treasure? I don't know. I don't know.
What do you give the 9 year old you don't know, who holds a piece of your soul?