She's there in the shadows, a wisp of something that occupies the fringes of our spaces. He hasn't asked about her yet but it's just a matter of time. Right how he still gets confused and wonders if he grew in my tummy.
Sometimes she shows up when I'm sitting on the edge of the boy's bed, tucking him in, as his arms fly open wide for a bedtime hug and his head flops onto the pillow, the mop of stick straight jet black hair, flopping right along with it. For a quick moment, I think, "Is her hair as straight and as black as his?"
Sometimes she shows up when I hear the 3 year old counting or recalling letter names or saying big huge words like "catapult", as I am amazed at his progress and in awe that 18 months ago, he spoke only Mandarin. I can't help but think, "He is so smart! She would be so proud of how quickly he learns new things."
Sometimes she shows up when I watch him do something people think he shouldn't be able to do, when his 1 1/2 fingers unbutton a shirt or piece a puzzle or brush his teeth. It's when I watch him innovate and create and strategize about the fairly mundane tasks of life, when I think "He is so clever! I wonder if she would be surprised at how much he can do."
And sometimes she shows up smack in the middle of his face, in his smile and giggles, as his natural charisma pours out, trickling from his eyes and the upturned corners of his grin. And that's when I sadly think, "She is missing this-this crazy wild boy with a full of life face who brings joy. She is missing this."