The town over from us has a Memorial Day Parade.
It's a small town.
It's home to a candy shop, restaurants, riverfront trails, and a green field on a hill made fertile by my child, and my tears.
We sit on a stoop with Charlotte the wonder dog, who barks at everything, and nothing, just because she can.
A young couple with a dog, we blend into the background here.
The high school band sends a rush of excitement through the waiting crowd with their beating drums.
People rise to their feet.
It is at this very moment that I see her.
Young, and waddling, and so much the way I imagine my own child would be.
The way she should be.
She struggles to navigate a stoop.
Waves a small flag.
Smiles and claps awkwardly.
"Do you see her?" I ask. "That's what Peyton would be doing. That's how old she would be now."
Why is there always silence?
She is our daughter, I shouldn't have to whisper her name into the wind.
Flags round the corner and the little girl laughs at a pug, then cheers for the veterans - the Lion's club - the firemen, all the while clinging to her mother's leg.
Would Peyton do that?
Would she reach for the security of her mommy at this age?
"Mommy." I whisper.
I never even got to hear her say it.
I repeat the word to myself.
It feels foreign and untrue.
I watch in envy, desperately wanting to return to the normalcy that surrounds this family.
I am hurt.
I feel robbed.
What happened to my life?
We wanted her.
We were ready.
We should be here, watching our daughter wave a flag.
A familiar heat rushes to my eyes.
I feel the tears coming.
And the lonliness.
And the anger.
My child is gone.
I am infertile.
My life is ruined.
Hundreds of faces are smiling around me, and I am fighting the urge to cry.
How can they smile when a dead baby, my dead baby, lies buried not even a half a mile from here?
Do they even know this type of heartache exists in their quaint town?
The band passes, their tap, tap, tap falling off as they march into the distance.
The crowds disperse and I am left in silence, reality laying a heavy boot across my throat.
My child doesn't dance in the street.
She doesn't wave a flag.
Or pet a pug.
My child has died.
And with her, so has my chance at normalcy.