As parents, we look at our new-born babies, and we see the future.
A million possibilities stretch out in front of us, like a Yellow Brick Road that leads on through all the years that this child will have, signposted with goals and landmarks.
We anticipate the Firsts. First smile, first tooth, first steps, first words, first birthday, first day of school.
We dream of sports carnival ribbons, and lumpy clay Mothers' Day presents, and paddle-pop stick stars for the Christmas tree.
We tell ourselves to deal gently with grazed knees and bruised egos and broken hearts. We will walk beside them to protect our fragile children from the monsters of this world until they're strong enough to protect themselves.
Their birthdays appear along the Road as milestones, marked with balloons and excitement, an achievement and a celebration. Each one is a triumph. "You Have Made It This Far! Keep Going!"
The road, for my little boy, is empty. There are no milestones. There are no crowds to cheer him on. There are not even any footprints to show me where he's been. There are 15 years of nothingness behind us, and many more in front.
The promise of What Might Have Been still hurts my heart.