For three years, eight months and eight days I've been wondering what today would feel like. Today is the day that Ivy is the same age as Vienne was when she died. Today is the last day in a chapter of what I have often described as life in the twilight zone. Today is the end of being on repeat. Granted, there have been a myriad of differences in raising Ivy. In truth, life could not be more different. Ivy has two grieving parents, different parents than Vienne had, we live in a different house, I have different work, Ivy hasn't had a baby sister.
But the general thing is that I've been a dad for over eight years and yet have one darling four year-old at home. What happened to the other four years? They are there in photos, videos, crafts with Vienne's name on them and even tattoos on our bodies but those years are ghostly just the same.
Imagine you're 19 again. A lot has happened in the last few years. You got a drivers license, definitely had a few crushes, maybe fell in love a time or two, did senior year in high school with sports and proms, graduated and probably moved out of home to a strange place called college. Now God comes to you one day and says, "Oops, you're really only 15 and I'm afraid I'm going to have to send you back a little." And there you go. Fifteen again but with all these memories and experiences that will start to feel almost as if they belonged to someone else. Luckily (in this story) God's not perfect and there are other people that get sent back from time to time so you occasionally find someone who get's your confusion from their own context. But it's rare and no one's experience can be likened unto the other. You are misfits and odd ones now. And if you talk too much about your experience people start to look at you funny and avoid you.
When you're a teenager, losing 4 years is a quarter of your life, it's a big deal. I lost a little person, my very best fried, as if those four plus years were roughly carved out and placed somewhere I can see but not visit or touch.
I guess you can go back to past posts to really get how much time Vienne and I got to spend together. I was a lucky dad. The last 1,347 days have been spent regrowing that relationship with Ivy now. She is my best friend the same way her sister was, maybe even more if that's possible. Let me confirm for the thick-headed that Ivy is not a replacement, she is her own wonder, my precious 2nd daughter. We compare Ivy's antics to Vienne's the same way any parent wonders in awe at the mysterious similarities and differences in their children. The only difference is Ivy doesn't have a big sister to watch lead the way.
Anyway, that missing chunk of time will always be there. When Ivy is 20, I will have been a dad for 24 years. When she is 38, I will have been a dad for 42 years. Simple math. They are twilight zone years. They existed, but the person who made them most real is not with me anymore. Some parents go crazy trying to keep a firm grip on what is lost. Some parents cannot stop grasping. Here's my trick, while I cannot cling to those years in a death grip, I can still carry them with me. Sometimes I hold them like an infant, close to my chest. Sometimes I hold them with one arm on my hip, sometimes in a pack on my back but they are always with me. If I carry them loosely like this, I don't turn them into something they're not and I can remember those years with my firstborn without always losing my shit.
But today (or tomorrow depending on how you look at it) is a transition day, a sort of reconciliation and a new start, a new adventure. Tomorrow I will be father to the oldest daughter I've ever had in my whole life.
I thought this would be easier to write but the words seem to come out a little crazy. Don't have me committed yet, I've got new adventures to start with Ivy.
*Disclaimer: I'm not overly mathematically inclined or superstitious on the timing of this day so if someone does a detailed calendar review and finds I missed a leap year day or something, it's okay if you keep that to yourself. Gracias.