It was just a Wednesday. I wanted it to be more. For the world to halt and for the flurry of crepe prep and gift wrapping to begin after I got up, to fret over the frosting texture while elbow deep in chocolate batter, choosing which place to go for our traditional birthday walk. February the 15 is a holiday at my house. It’s my fathers birthday, and it wasn’t the same without him there to celebrate. It would have been my Dad’s 70th year orbiting this Earth, and I’m sure he would have had some wry comment about him being “70 years young!”. You need to imagine him saying that with an exclamation point in his voice, one finger jabbing in the air to emphasize the point. Age was a relative thing to my father, ‘young’ truly a state of mind, and ‘old’ something that crept up on you when you let a little bit of the sparkle and wonder out of this life. And Dad clung to every speck of magic. And he taught me in every gesture, every smile and twinkle of his eye, to do the same.
My family’s birthday are magically well placed so that every 4-5 months we get a party. It’s seriously well planned, props to my ‘rents for that. But this February snuck up on me. Usually I see Valentine’s decorations and that’s my queue to begin the gift knitting but this year it was like my brain wanted to protect me from this truth. That today I’d have to celebrate without him. That today would be lonely in a way that the rest of the year couldn’t quite top. I hate these ‘firsts’.
I missed the ritual we’d carefully crafted together for this day. Preparing food – almost more than the eating of it – is a religion in our house, but particularly between my father and I. Most people laughed and just couldn’t understand how we could literally start prepping dinner around 3 pm and still take about 4 hour to get a meal on the table. We took “slow cooking” to an impressive level. But more than our usual walk outside, the board games after dinner, the cake and candles, I miss making my dad a card. I know. I was surprised to discover how much I missed the ritual. I would spend forever making my parents handmade cards every year for their birthdays, cutting out tiny pictures, tracking down the elusive “y’s” and “p’s”, and if I could find one, an “!”, to spell ‘H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y-!”, ransom-note style.
I love crafting things for people.
You’d never have guessed, right?
But there is something magical about the time you take to craft something with your own two hands for someone you love. An hour or two, or 60, if you’re crazy and decide to make your very tall father a cabled vest *insert tears and creative cuss words here*. I spend that time solely focused on the person, little snippets of memory floating through my mind as I flip through magazines to find the perfect pictures to arrange. Something they’d love, something that reminds me of our relationship, or the strange wonderful beauty of nature, or completely random shit. I have this penchant for cutting out really dainty chandeliers, snipping around the curve of each bulb, making the lines as close to the image as I can. Why? I have zero clue, I just like them, kay? I’m like the paper-chandelier-cutting monk.
And then I’d write in them, the lines of text running on an angle across the page, because apparently I am still in grade school and never mastered the art of writing straight without guiding blue lines. I liked to keep my Dad’s cards eccentric and a kind of word collage of emotions. It was a tiny conversation, a snapshot of love, that rested on the fridge or the bookshelf until next years card usurped it.
But today was different. Today was quiet. Today I spent trying not to become a curled mass of shadow and brokenness in the corner. To now fold in on myself like human origami of grief. I photographer eleventy billion buttons for my shop, a task so mundane and menial it felt almost sacrilegious to practice today. But it was a good distraction. Mama and I went out for dinner at one of our favourite places, Bin 4, and enjoyed a glass of red wine together. It’s the first time in 8 years I’ve been able to drink without having pretty serious med interactions, and it was magical and delicious. I was all eager to prove I was over 19 and can you believe it I WASN’T EVEN CARDED. Like, why else do you carry I.D. if not to whip it out to random waiters and bartenders to inform them that, yes, I am a grownup, and here a picture of me looking my absolute best, photo cred to the talent at the DMV? In my waitresses’ defence, I did ask what blend the wine was, and for a taste, which I proceed to sample correctly the way my father taught me at the ripe old age of 4. So I guess I came across as classy and mature AF, which I suppose is a little win. I’ll take it.
And then we ate a lot of dessert. All the desserts. Which was awesome.
I’m going to break this stream of conscious with this complete non sequitur, to humbly brag that I have the best friends on the planet. Sorry, this is 100% verifiable, but don’t ask them yourselves, as they are so freakin’ humble, I have to do the bragging for them.
My bestie Morri knew oday might be a hard day for me. It kind of snuck up on me, and we were talking about that, and she was joking around with me, cheering me up and distracting me in that way only amazing friends can. And somehow the conversation turned jokingly to delivery of emergency ice cream. And I jokingly mentioned my favourite flavour was Salted Carmel. And my friend is one of those rare people who doesn’t really love ice cream, but I love her anyways ;).
Yeah. So this afternoon I was, and I quote, like, “whaaaaat?”, when a pint of Luna & Larry’s Salted Carmel Coconut Ice Cream was delivered. You need to imagine me saying it in a very high pitch voice with lots of excitement and grabby hands and smiles from ear to ear. I wanted to eat that goddamn pint for breakfast. Looking back, why didn’t I do that?!
And I felt so loved, and so fundamentally understood, it was magical. And I made it through this day. With love from the people around me, which is fierce and wild and strange and full of magic too. That love, from my father, from my tribe, will always make the day brighter <3.