The past few weeks have been hectic, a flurry of classes, driving to New York and Maryland, and rowing preparations. I felt a huge wave of relief when Lily called me up two weeks ago to tell me that she and Rory would be in town to see family for Easter. She wanted to know if I’d be able to meet up with them for lunch on that Friday.

I can’t decide whether to phrase it as “Lily and Rory were the parents of Chris and John” or “Lily and Rory are the parents of Chris and John”. The boys died almost three years ago, and I’ve written a bit about how much that’s hurt me. I read the eulogy at Chris’s funeral, and spent the months afterward trying to help John cope with his brother’s death. None of that helped.

Since their deaths, I’ve stayed extremely close with Rory and Lily. So close that, when their daughter was born only a few short months after John’s death, they asked if they could use my middle name as her name.

I received weekly emails with the ultrasound pictures, and despite the fact that they now live in Europe, I got to meet Elizabeth shortly after her first month. She was beautiful; even the wrinkly skin that I normally hate was perfect. Huge blue eyes that looked just like Chris’s stared back at me, until eventually she fell asleep on my lap.

Elizabeth is now exactly how I imagine I was as a kid. She climbs everything she can get her hands on and has the sweetest pout when she doesn’t get her way. At the cafe, she sat on my lap and tried sips of my coffee, scrunching her nose as it hit her tongue. I can’t imagine how she moves from country to country every few months, sees thousands of faces, and still recognizes me. As her parents and I talked, she curled her fingers in my hair, twisting and knotting the ends, then squealing with delight.

I’m scared to think of the day that Rory and Lily explain what happened to her three siblings, I’m scared that she’ll realize she’s the only one to survive. It’s true, that naivete is bliss. Until then, she’ll remain the perfect child that she is.