A few of her friends who happened to be in town for spring break came over last night to sing happy birthday to her and share in cake and revelry. These were her longtime friends from MCS days, fifteen years and counting, plus a newer friend from college, a girl named Henri whom I immediately adored when I met her last Thanksgiving.
My women friends came too, the mothers of these children. We have forged our own independent connection over the years, so that when we get together for a meal, sometimes we don't even talk about our children.
We kept everything simple. Cake and pizza and seltzer. My daughter and her friends provided their own entertainment, laughing and chatting non stop, while we women talked softly in the kitchen and in the living room my husband and son, and one of his friends, a former housemate from college, watched March Madness basketball on TV. It wasn't as segregated as it sounds. Everyone weaved in and out of the groups, and my children sat with their heads close for a while, catching up with one another, talking about I know not what.
I am so happy to see my daughter. I depend too much on her sometimes. She has a mysterious ability to lift the mood in a room, just with her laugh, which bursts from her like light, her eyes dancing, the sound like music filling my parched soul. I am grateful beyond words that she is here. We three buffeted souls needed her. I know this is hardly fair, maybe it is too much to burden her with, to find such comfort in her young, carefree spirit, but there you are. I hugged her close and felt a healing begin. I am crying again.
So I wrote the obit. I don't know if anything I write could possibly do my aunt justice, but I've done my best. I need a reader, which would normally have been my mother, but she can't be the one anymore. It will only make her weep. My cousin in Virginia will read for me, and tell me if there are any wrong notes, glaring omissions, self-indulgent paragraphs. It is too long, but my other cousin in Boston, a graphic designer who is doing the program, told me she will make it work. I am remembering a minister who used to be close to our family once saying that the biblical phrase. "In my father's house there are many mansions," should in our case be changed to "In my mother's house are many cousins."
My heart is shredded from the storms of this week, some created by my own internal chemistry, some unbloggable, but in the midst of it all, I am finding so much to be grateful for. But it is strange: I recognize my vast blessings intellectually, but am having trouble actually feeling them.
Tomorrow, we travel.