She’ll never learn to read. She’ll never learn to ride a two-wheel bicycle, or to drive a car. Never get to ride the best roller coasters, never learn to swim unassisted, never go to sleep-away summer camp. Never get her first social-media account, never join a sports team, never compete on the gym floor, never learn to play a musical instrument. Never fall hopelessly in love, never break a heart, never have her heart broken and learn from it. Never sneak out for an evening with her friends, never hate her teacher, never graduate from high school. Never get her ears pierced, never get her first tattoo. Never fight with her sister over clothing, never share secrets with her brother, never be a shoulder for her siblings to cry on. Never have her own place to live, never adopt a pet of her own, never get her first job and eventually quit it in disgust for a better job. Never get to decide whether to marry, whether to have children, whether to believe in higher powers and lives beyond this one.
All the light bulbs of discovery that will never switch on, all the radiant smiles of pride that will never burst forth, all the moments of insight that will never unfold, all the experiences she’ll never enjoy. I feel the weight of all the years she will never have, and they may yet crush me.
My beautiful, bright-burning girl, my little spark. I wanted so much to watch you grow and learn, and to see the world made new through your eyes. I would do almost anything to restore all that to you. Give you my own years, if I could.
So many nevers.