Friday, 28 June 2019
June 28th would’ve been your 19th birthday. It represents the fifth birthday that you have not been in attendance for. It represents the fifth birthday that I haven’t been criticized for the present I bought you. It’s the 5th year that I didn’t receive flack for wanting to have my picture taken with you. Your 19th birthday is supposed to a celebration but today it represents only a milestone to what should have been.
A 19th birthday is supposed to represent an emancipation, a coming of age. It’s supposed to be a coming together with friends and family for your first “legal libation”. It’s supposed to represent a homecoming from your first year at university, talking about the experiences, your independence away from home and the plans for the summer ahead. It represents a culminating of new friends and old friends coming together to celebrate you. People get together to laugh, share stories and join in a love for the honouree of the day. This is the fifth year that the honouree will not be attending.
But instead of a celebration, it has become a solemn affair. It means a quiet visit to the cemetery where I sit cross legged, play music that you loved and have a quiet conversation with the most important female that has ever touched my life. I ponder where you would’ve gone to university and what program you would be enrolled in. I think about whether you would’ve had a boyfriend and whether he would’ve been worthy of you. I think about the influence and the impact that you would’ve had upon your brothers. I think about how you would’ve positively influenced society and the footprint that you would’ve left. I think about how curious you always were and the unrelenting questions that you would continue to ask. I think about your strength of character, your wicked sense of humour and how much conviction you held about things that meant so much to you.
I’m forever looking at pictures of you growing up. You will remain forever encapsulated by youth. Life goes on, people age but you will always be frozen in time. Today, Zac is three years older than your last day alive and Sawyer will equal your age in a few months but you will always remain my eldest child and their big sister.
Although going to your grave is a terrible way to spend your birthday, it does make me feel grateful for the time that I did get to spend with you, albeit too short. You were taken from us far too soon, your legacy was achieved earlier than most.
Your 19th birthday is supposed to be one of liberation, that last real bridge between being a youth and an adult. In your passing, so many of your friends, from so many different places in your life have been united solely because of their association with you. The influence and the impact you’ve had upon the lives of so many, are still being felt today throughout our community and beyond. Your presence is still felt and heralded by your brothers and friends, and the impact that they are making to society today in your honour.
Although you, our guest of honour is no longer present on this earth, we salute you and honour you for all you have contributed in your absence, and the conversations that have become more significant and meaningful in your wake. Although your presence is missed on a daily basis, others have seen it as their duty to carry on your message.
Cheers to you, Maddie. I look forward to having a drink together today. Happy 19th birthday!