Happy Christmas, Aimee

{A photo of Aimee and Rowan.}
There's a shelf on my living room bookcase where we keep the family ashes. 

The two urns stand side by side, about three-inches tall, not much bigger than a juice glass or a little tin soldier. The urn on the left—the silver one—holds the ashes of Justin's father. And the one tucked next to it—the slender blue one—protects the remains of my sister-in-law Aimee. 

I'm looking at Aimee's urn right now, and I'm still struggling to make sense of it. Only a year ago, Aimee was with us, smiling and laughing and kissing her daughter on the nose every morning. But now, her ashes reside on the top shelf of a bookcase. 

That's all that is left of her: a marbled blue urn. 

And that just seems so awfully unfair. So terribly cruel. Because Aimee didn't die of an illness or old age—she died because of other people's recklessness. And because of these people, we will never see her again.

My husband lost a sister.
My mother-in-law lost a daughter.
My brother-in-law lost a wife.
And my little niece lost a mother who she misses so very much. 

Even a year later, that's what angers me the most: a little girl left without a mom. 

But, in spite of our anger and our grief, we wanted to make this anniversary a special day for Rowan. To commemorate Aimee's passing, my mother-in-law asked family and friends to send balloons to Rowan, in hopes of cheering her up and showing her that she is not alone in her mourning. The response was overwhelming, and we ended up with over 100 balloons: 

I wish I could've been there to see the look on her face! I wish I could've given her a big hug and a kiss. And I wish I could've told her, in person, that her Auntie Caroline loves her so very much. 

But more than that, I wish we didn't have to send those balloons. 

I wish Aimee was here. 
Not in an urn on a bookshelf. 
But here, with us. 
With Rowan. 

I wish. Oh, I wish

We love you, Aimee.
We miss you very much.