the candles

the candles are there,

much fewer now that she’s older,

waiting to be blown out

and for wishes to be made


the one who stands there,

bowed over them,

preparing to exhale

has done this many, many years


once upon a time the cakes were made

by the hands that first held her and fed her

and loved her

by the hands she held and begged for

Someone to heal, this body, the one who

gave her life


in recent years, as her folks fought giants

like cancer and exhaustion and other nameless warriors,

she made her own cakes


“I’m so sorry,” the Mama would whisper

“Don’t be. It doesn’t matter,” she’d say

and that is what she told herself the year

she sat on the swing, alone, waiting

watching the clock tick until she saw 2:14

her birthday, birth time

and she pushed the swing with her feet

not able to see her Daddy, the one

in there fighting and not wanting her to

see the battle or catch a glimpse

of the one who was winning


and then, just two weeks later, won


as the candles were blown out over the years, the wishes


from pretty colors and fluffy, cuddly animals

and cassette tapes and friendship and

true love

to breath prayers for wisdom, guidance,

and then


until the year with the swing, she bowed over the cake

she’d made for herself

and pretended to make a wish

for the littles’ sakes…..

they got so excited no matter

whose birthday it was


but there were no wishes left

she knew that


and then the day came that she realized

the candles and cake and wishes and dreams

and presents

are not the heart

of the day

and that wishes lost

do not mean hope is gone



as she leaned over the confection that had sat until done

in her own oven just hours before

she inhaled

and she knew–

shared laughter over a meal,

time being spent in labors of love,

a cup of coffee offered and delivered,

hands creating while sharing stories,

caring words from folks she loved,

all of that and so much more


that is what makes the moments in a day, a life


worth remembering

held close to one’s heart

and over the years, she realized,

the wishes had turned into a word,

a word she now exhaled quietly,

as the littles leaned in to watch intently and

assist in the extinguishing of the light,

the word the one who once baked the cakes

lived by and taught her


the light inside only shines brighter in the darkness

when one carries


in her heart





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