Such a lovely day today. The sunshine. The crisp fall leaves beneath our feet. The colors of the trees, the faint smell of fall in the air. The children ran as far as they could until they collapsed in a pile of arms and legs, laughing. We explored the park, read the historical signs, the children played, and we adults talked about all and none of the important things. Moments of conversation punctuated by laughter and shared stories and companionable silences, during which all that was unsaid was understood.
A picnic lunch under the trees wrapped up the morning. The quiet except for the rustling of napkins and children chomping away was a testament to the energy expended and fun had. As goodbyes were said and pictures taken to remember, we all hugged and nodded, “Yes, we will do this again soon.”
After a brief afternoon slumber to recuperate and rejuvenate, we were off again. To share coffee with friends and do gymnastics and visit with my sister and her family. Again with the storytelling and remembering and catching up. I think my favorite moments in life will always be the ones where stories are told–whether I’ve heard them ten times before or not. After a lovely supper and candles and cake and singing and wishing, we were headed for home and closing the house and the day up tight.
Such a lovely day to have a birthday.
Except that none of this is true.
And yet–it was still a day with lovely moments.
Poor Cooter. He is a sick little fella. Round two with this cold/allergy/upper respiratory MESS. We are so over it. (But not over it, if you get what I’m saying.) Our Princess had two bouts with it and came out a winner, but then she had the help of her inhaler. Cooter has no such help. He only has his secret weapon. Me.
He wound up in the bed with me last night, which suits me fine. I like to be able to hear them breathing and check for fevers and besides, when they are sick, it’s just so pitiful. When he woke up this morning, he lay there for a while, looking at the ceiling or a book and then, suddenly, he popped up, “Hey!” He looked really close into my eyes, “Today is your birthday, isn’t it?” I nodded. “Well, happy birthday!” he said, with his croupy little voice. Then, “I’m sorry I’m messing it up by being sick.”
For the love. Priceless. No, buddy, no.
Tonight as I hugged our Princess good night, she said, “I am worried that I messed up your birthday.”
“By playing too much Minecraft and not just sitting with you.”
Oh my stars. Can’t you just picture that? Let’s all celebrate my birthday by sitting around together. And hanging out. And just sitting here. With folks glancing at their watches (okay, phones) to see how much longer is left in this. very. special. day. Hoping it will be over soon so we can all return to our regularly scheduled way of living.
Ummm, no. I assured her that I did not begrudge her the bit of time she had played her game. No worries. She smiled and hugged me once more (when did she get to be as tall as I am?) and headed off to bed.
Between the moments of my littles’ worries about my day, there were some very precious moments. My children’s neighborfriends wishing me a happy birthday because a little birdie had told them it was. A gift bag on my doorstep from my sweet neighborfriend. Message after message from all the people from different parts of my story sending well wishes for the day. Phone calls from people I love, offering to go get Ginger Ale or whatever we might need, offering to tote my non-sick child to her practice, offering best wishes and much love. Seeing faces I love on the screen, live and recorded, thinking of me on this day of days. Cards in the mailbox and old pictures coming out of the woodwork. And the laughter. Yes. That too.
This evening I baked my Mama’s special fall cookies with her birthday cake cookie cutter. She made those cookies for me so many times over the years. I love the recipe, I love that cookie cutter, and I love remembering her hands making them. I can see so clearly what the early morning on my birthday was like all those years ago–walking in to the dining room where my present was sitting in my chair waiting for me. That is, until the year I told them I really didn’t like getting my present first thing in the morning. I liked it better after supper–because it gave me something to look forward to all day.
Which is why my cards are sitting right there, waiting on me to finish writing to open them. I’ve been looking forward to this all day.
And perhaps that is what I have learned today–that while much of birthdays can be about looking back and remembering those of years past, it is just as much about looking to the future. Now that I’m a woman “of a certain age,” *ahem* I find myself a little braver, a little louder, a little less serious, and a lot more in touch with where I am right now. And I’m looking forward to the wheres of tomorrow and a year from now and years beyond that. Some days I’m just plain looking forward, and while things might be too far in the distance to see them clearly, I do know that I’m heading in the right direction. Oh I’ll still glance backwards every now and again, there’s nothing wrong and everything right with that. But I can’t live there, though goodness knows I’ve been tempted.
I am looking forward, because if life has taught me anything, it’s that there is so much waiting there for me at the end of the day. So much to treasure and unwrap. So much joy.
Love and happy everyday to all.