After the party

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These photographs are the calm after the storm has passed. The quiet after the chaos.

When your child has a birthday, you want to take a moment. To pause, to remember: "this time last year, this time three years ago, this time 18 years ago…" I don't think the power of that day goes away for a parent, ever. Does it?

Because in that minute, the minute you are remembering, the world gained this new person. If that minute (and all the hard, gruelling, labour-of-love minutes that preceded it) hadn't happened, the universe would now have a completely different personality.

It would have a hole in it that could never be filled, and a regret that nobody could ever understand, and a loss that nobody would ever know how to grieve. The paths of every single person your child has ever met and will ever meet would have been altered, some of them subtly and some of them in extraordinary and powerful ways, but altered nevertheless.

That's the power of a birthday, when you are a parent.

Scout turned three on Tuesday, and I have been waiting for my own moment of reflection. Searching for it, even, in the frenetic, time-spinning events that have made up our hours and days of late. This is the first chance I've had to stop and think and remember, and now I find my thoughts and memories overpowered by my feelings, and I am without words.

"I love you," I tell her every night when I kiss her and put her into bed (and many times throughout the day). "I love you a million, billion, trillion." And she whispers, "To the moon and back?" "Yes," I tell her. "To the moon and back, and then more."

Every day since she was born, every, single, day, I have told her this: "I love you forever." It is because I believe that my love for her will transcend everything. EVERYTHING. Even if I die, my love is and will be stronger than my body. It is my most profound wish that neither of my children will ever live a second without love.

And that's the best I can do about taking a moment. Happy third birthday Scout!

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