We usually sing “Happy Birthday” with boxes of human dust huddled around a flaming pastry.
This month is especially strange, my birthday is the 6th, Wilbur’s is the 11th and my dad would have turned 60 on the 12th. We will sing and eat cake four out the next seven days: a coconut cake with almond flour, an under-the-sea themed cake, a cardamom layer cake with salted caramel, and an angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. A coating of sugar softens the absence of our loved ones.
As much as we are celebrating life as it is being lived, we are commemorating what was and what we are missing. It’s sweet, and it hurts so deeply that I can’t get enough air to blow out my own candles. This is my third birthday without Beckett and Clementine, my second birthday without my dad, and I wonder what it would be like to have all of my favorite people around me belting out that traditional chorus just one more time.
As I sit in the glow of tiny candles, I wonder what another trip around the sun will bring for our family. Is it worth it to wish when I can’t even be sure what I want? What did I wish for twenty-eight times before now, because they brought me here.
So here’s to another year, another 365 days to love my people well. I think this year, instead of longing to move myself forward or wanting to go back to what was before, I am holding tight to right here. I want to sit in the middle of these little days. I am not making life-or-death decisions, and that feels okay. For now, I am going to be content with getting up and living the life right in front of me.
Even though pieces of me are missing, I feel full and floating, but I could be carried away with the slightest breeze. It has been a good day, the love from friends and family was so welcome this year. To see and hear all those beautiful words, they are helping to connect me to this moment. You all keep me here, helping me to take a deep breath and remember that though some of this life is tearing me in half, I have so many people willing to walk alongside me.
I know I don’t say it enough, so here it is: thank you. Thank you for shining light on our family during some dark days. Thank you for reaching out and lifting us up. Thank you for every card and letter, every casserole, and every prayer. I wouldn’t have made it to 29 without all of you, thank you for being a part of my “Happy Birthday” chorus.