It started off with my dad's voice, gravelly, and deep, and a second later my mom's higher voice joining in the background, both singing,
"Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday, dear K,
Happy Birthday to You!"
And then my dad again, "Happy Birthday, K! We love you, sweetie, we'll see you tomorrow", my mom chiming in the background, "Happy Birthday, K! We love you!", and then both of them saying "Good-bye!" and it was over.
A love note to my daughter from her grandparents. A voice mail message on my phone. Every month I would press "9" and save it, for myself, so that I wouldn't forget my father's voice, and the way my parents' voices sounded together, so different, so right.
For K, so that she would a tangible reminder of her Papi that loved her so. A Papi she would only remember through pictures and stories. A Papi she would never really know herself. I would be able to save this little piece of his love for her for when she was older, and could appreciate it.
Some months I would push "9" and listen with tears running down my face, as I felt the loss again. Wishing that it was still April 4, 2009, and that my dad was still here. Some months I would listen as I drove, and remember with a smile how he sounded, and then go on with my day, saying a quick prayer for my mom. Some months I would press "9" without listening, the pain too great, my heart too fragile.
And then it was Christmas, and somehow in all the busy-ness of the month, I didn't push "9" when I heard the reminder message, and I forgot to do it later, and I just realized about a month ago that the message was lost.
Irretrievably, irrevocably, heart breakingly, lost.