Joy Bottled in a Tiny Person

There is light in her.

Abstract watercolor illustration of a blue antique perfume bottle
Image created via Midjourney

The other night, my 6-year-old rainbow baby bounced into my bedroom.

And I mean bounced. Literally jumping up and down. For no reason. That's just how she moves through her days sometimes.

Her brothers were energetic when they were younger. Now they're in middle school. Not much bouncing.

She was getting ready for bed. She said goodnight to me and then paused at the display tray in my room — the tray that is dedicated to Nelle and Iris.

"I miss my sisters," she sighed, looking at their framed footprints.

When she said, "I miss them" it's nothing like how I say I miss them. I'm usually on the verge of tears. Or, at a minimum, have a giant lump in my throat. I miss them so much it hurts.

But she said the words more like someone who hasn't seen a good friend for awhile. Not grief-stricken. Just longing for a time when they can be together again.

"I wish I could see them," she added.

I told her that she could see her sisters in her imagination. Her eyes lit up, and I could see her brain processing this idea.

I follow Nelba Márquez-Greene on Threads. Her daughter, Ana, was murdered in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in 2012. Recently, she wrote:

We're going to take all the joy we can get. We're also going to grieve forever at the injustice.
As we should.
Don't be mistaken on the depth of what we hold in both spaces.

I've often said that Autumn is joy bottled in a tiny person. There is light in her, all the time, and she lights up the people around her.

I will grieve forever that her sisters aren't here. And will be grateful forever for the joy Autumn brings to my life.

Both things can be true.

And Now Two
Always an unwelcome “what-if” and a reminder that I can grieve and cherish at the same time.