It’s 9:37am. I slept in, which is arguably the best gift I will receive today. Kari whisked the kiddos out of our bed at the headache time of 6:30am. The curtains were left shut, the fan was turned on high and the covers were pulled over my head. There is no better sleep than getting to sleep in, without consequence or guilt, after you become a parent.
Speaking of gifts, I received $30 from my parents, which feels like such a kind gesture when you’re halfway to seventy. I have been wearing socks with holes in them for a solid four months now. There are two pair in which my big toe just slides right out into the open. Another pair has the heel worn out. Some days I have opted to simply go without socks altogether, knowing the callouses that have emerged on the balls of my feet would get me by just fine. And I knew this day would come and I knew my parents would faithfully send me $30, so I waited until now and bought five pair of socks from REI. They are ready to be picked up at the store today. Shipping to my home would have blown out my budget.
Thanks to my sister, I will take Kari out for my birthday, on a proper date, which would actually win the argument for best gift. We will arrive to dinner and have two whole hours before the movie starts. We will converse and eat, at whatever pace suits us. I will dip my fries into a gourmet sauce slowly and defiantly, one at a time, and feel like everything in the world is going to be okay.
Happy days like today have a sadness about them now. Like the happiness you’re supposed to feel actually accentuates the sadness. As good as dinner and a movie sounds, and as sweet as the drawing is that Stella will no doubt give me, the truth is, I would equally like to skip out on the rest of the day and grab the framed picture of my missing daughter and hold it close and pull the blankets back over my head and cry until it’s no longer my birthday. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited to pick up my socks. It’s just different now.
I feel so lucky to be alive. Thirty-five years is a long, long time to escape death. If there is one gift I could give myself today, I would beg and plead with the universe that my kids and Kari and I could stay alive for a good long while. That would be really nice.