The two-year-old bombs through the house, headed for the back bedroom where Grandma keeps a box of toys – balls, Hot Wheels, assorted action figures; memories from childhoods the others have outgrown.
He comes out with a toy microphone, one of those cheap, plastic things that echo when you speak into it and it sounds like it is “live.” “Birthday to you,” he sings. “Birthday to you.”
We all smile at him and he does a little, sideways dance, shifting from one hip to the other to a melody only he hears. He gives a hearty laugh and goes back to his singing.
Our little charmer is growing fast. He is healthy and robust. He is loved by everyone.
* * *
One other little charmer never reached his second birthday here on earth. His little hands never got to play with Grandma’s box of rescued toys.
We never got to sing a second “Happy birthday to you,” because a freak, horrible accident took him from us two years ago this month. He would have been four. All we have are memories of his smiles, his silly dances, and his laugh; yet he still charms us.
He is still loved by everyone.
* * *
My visitors are gone now and I sweep through the house looking for toys left behind by little hands – a two-piece, wooden train set, an orange ball, the microphone. I carry them in my arms, returning them where they go.
I sing into the microphone, “Birthday to you.”