Dear Paige,

The lights went out last night, long before I turned them off.  It was still dark when I opened my eyes this morning.

I didn’t see you stretched out across Ken’s side of the bed. I didn’t see your little face on the pillow next to mine or those silly ears poking out from beneath the blankets. The ears that never quite behaved the way they should (am I so happy they never did).

I went down the stairs to start the laundry today and didn’t hear the tell-tale sound of you rummaging through your many toy boxes for that morning toy, almost always your elephant, who you’d carry out to the rug. The elephant, I told you every time, is an outside elephant and too heavy to throw in the house. I started the vacuum without the help of your little paw pressing hard on the button until the whirring sound of the motor begins. You weren’t there to drop the tiny-one ball for me to catapult across the floor with the head of the vacuum like a hockey puck. I wasn’t able to continue work on my watercolor painting. How could I? You were my inspiration. And you always let me know when I’d worked long enough with a tap-tap of your two-handed touch on the stool next to me mine – Time’s up!

The Elefun Playskool Popper Toy didn’t trumpet his song today. You weren’t there to fill it, always choosing the purple balls, or start it with a raucous of noise of balls popping and bouncing in every direction. The miniature bowling pins stood at attention, like little sentries, waiting for you to push the bowling ball that never came across the floor to send those pins spinning for a strike. Any spare left standing wouldn’t be for long. The little toy hamster, encased in his blue plastic ball, sat silent, not rolling or bumping into the cabinets or walls. There was no slingshot countdown in threes, no snap of the elastic making contact with the ball to rocket it across the room… always with you never far behind.

Like me, partly deflated, your tie-dye colored titanic-ball seemed to lose air overnight. There was no bottom up in a ready-stance, no adjusting your little soccer just right to aim for that titanic set up on the floor to score. You’d roll your ball with the speed enough to knock titanic to its side. Last time I counted, eleven times in a row you scored. You weren’t there to show-off how to throw your ball without using hands, pumping your little head up and down, like a baseball pitcher pumps his arm, in anticipation of how far and how fast you’re going to throw that ball. All the way across the room to me! We didn’t play those games where we took turns mirroring – I do it first and then you; you do it first and then me – but mostly you took a turn even when it wasn’t your turn. You could be a cheater like that.  And oh…your beast-faces, how I laughed. Of course, that only caused those faces to multiply and accompany nearly everything you did!

The window seat was empty, when Ken came home from work today. No new nose prints on the glass. You weren’t there to make me a little bit jealous, the way you saved your shy-girl act, most especially for him.  We didn’t take that short drive to the school yard or the track. I didn‘t watch you strut alongside me to pick that perfect spot out on the lawn for the first throw of the day. Every day is a perfect day for Chuck-it. I missed seeing you and Ken sit on the lounge together later that afternoon. You weren’t there to remind us to take that Friday night ice cream drive.

Tiger-tails, bear-ears and bunny-ears sat, all in a row, alone on the lounge waiting, but you never came… I couldn’t bring myself to sit on the couch tonight knowing you wouldn’t be there to talk about our day. You weren’t there for me to put to bed or play that silly bedtime game – the one with your face peeking at me from between two back legs, your half-upturned wrinkled nose with a tiny tip of tongue, much like a crooked smile, and your tail in perpetual motion.

The nightlight on the wall cast an angel’s halo of light, bathing the place your bed last lay. I hold your blanket to my chest and hear my own heartbeat, but not yours. And if I try hard enough, I think I still feel your tender pokes to the lips and I remember how when I looked in your eyes, I could see me reflected back. How will I ever see me without you?

How could I have known everything would change except the way I love you?

Forever and always,
Daune and Ken