THE BIRTHDAY GIRL
She was waiting on the front porch for me, stooped over the railing looking out down the dusty driveway. As I walked toward her, she straightened, her face creasing into a smile.
“Today’s my birthday.” she informed me.
Glimpsing the package in my arms, she poked and prodded, asking when she could open her present. For she knew it was hers; after all it was her birthday, and hers was the only birthday today.
We go into the living room, and I get my camera out to take pictures of the birthday girl in all her glory. She grabbed the bag, thanking me for not using a box with paper and “all that tape so hard to get off.” She oohed and aahed over her blouse with the little pink roses.
“Pink is my favorite color, you know.”
She clapped her hands with glee to see jeans to wear with her new blouse. It was just what she wanted. For her birthday. I posed and snapped, got some shots of her with her bounty. She was ready to go eat. She wasn’t really hungry, but she wanted to go eat. “After all,” she said, “its my birthday.”
We get to the restaurant, place our order. Spend time talking about this and that. Anxiously waiting for the dinner she’s not hungry for.
“Don’t they know its my birthday?”
I promised to inform the waitress next time she walks by. How dare they not know its her birthday?
Finally our orders arrive, and we begin to eat. She’s eating with gusto, though she’s not really hungry. I hand her a napkin to wipe the food from her mouth, so eager she is for her birthday dinner.
She asked the waitress for her dessert to go. She can’t hold another bite, but she wants her dessert. It’s her birthday, she says.
I find myself staring. I’m unable to peel my eyes off her beautiful face, carved by 86 years of life, love, grief. A myriad of thoughts blasting through my mind; Will she know me her next birthday? Will she even have another birthday? What if this is the last birthday I share with her? My eyes are bright with unshed tears as I listen to her chatter happily on about what a wonderful day she’s had.
But of course she did. Today’s her birthday.
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