My dearest darling Zoey, today you are all of eleven years old. A “tween”, too old to be considered a child and too young to be considered a teenager. I can’t imagine how it would be to parent you at this age. As a 5-year-old you were simply amazing. You were intelligent, outspoken, kind, compassionate and wise beyond your years. As an 11-year-old I can only imagine how beautiful you’d be, both on the inside and the outside. I won’t go into the “wish you were here” or the “what if’s” because frankly I have no idea anymore. I don’t know anything about the likes and dislikes of kids this age. I’ve been quite removed from all the girly stuff and being a mom to your naughty and handful brothers has been quite a different experience. It’s a complete riot at home. Anay is 5-and-a-half and loves reading, board games (scrabble), math and story-telling. Yes, he loves to spin and tell all sorts of stories. And he can go on for hours together. He loves his little brother and is protective of him most of the time. However he does have this fiercely competitive spirit which sometimes gets him into trouble :). Hari is four and loves playing and being naughty with his older brother. He could care less about learning his ABCs and seems to know it all already :). He is polite, soft-spoken and there are so many times his mannerisms remind us of you. These two laugh and play with each other, fight with each other, throw random tantrums and eventually reconcile. Most of all, they are inseparable. I don’t ever have to worry about keeping these two occupied because they have each other. Watching them bond this way, reminds me of your promise to your “soccer ball”. It takes me back to the time you told your newborn baby brother, “Anay, when you grow up we will sing, dance and play all you want”. Because that’s exactly what is happening in this house. I go back to that video of you and your brother time and again and feel like Hari has been sent to us, just for that one reason. Your dad and I believe that it’s your way of keeping your promise. Your brothers are such happy little souls and love your dad and I unconditionally. And yes they love you a lot as well. You get included in their stories and games all the time. I hear things like Zoey Akka is Owlette or Luna girl in their PJ masks games, or how they will go all the way to the moon to meet their dear Akka. Yes, they still believe you live on the moon and until they are older and truly understand what happened to you, I don’t see myself telling them any differently.
They know it’s your birthday today and they have planned an ice-cream trip in the evening to celebrate. We found this cute little ice-cream shop close by and this one would definitely have been your favorite. This shop is filled with all sorts of “shark” paraphernalia. It has these huge sea-life antics hanging from its ceilings. As I mentioned before, in so many ways Hari is exactly like you. He is obsessed with sharks. I still remember you and your many books on sharks. You knew every type of shark out there with the hammerhead shark, being your all time favorite. My geeky little baby girl! I miss you so much. So yes, your dad and I figured this place would be perfect to celebrate your birthday.
Like every year we will also be celebrating your birthday with kids on the pediatric oncology floor at the hospital where you were treated. We will be having a luncheon for those kids and their families next weekend (June 16th).
My dearest Zoey, to say I ( and your dad) miss you, is the most understated sentiment there is. I do believe in the after-life and I know for sure that one day we will all be together. It will be like you never left and I believe it will be beautiful.
Till then …. know that I love you and think of you all the time……And enjoy your birthday wherever you are!
Happy birthday big girl!