From the moment of Britt's death, I've struggled with verb tense; past or present? Britt is or Britt was? She loved or she loves? In the early days of my grief, the past tense enraged me. In some instances it still does. I have a daughter - not had. She is my only child - not was. It may seem a small thing, but it's important to me to acknowledge in the most precise way possible her continuing presence in my life.
In other ways, the past tense is just what comes naturally; she loved animals and books and Mexican food. She was a talented writer. And then there are those moments where the rules about shifting tenses do not apply and I slip and slide among them. What is, what was, what would have been.
Today is her birthday. She loved chocolate cake. She would have been 24.