It’s been a while since I’ve written, but you’re never far from my mind. In fact I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately as I decided to celebrate my birthday Alicia-style. Ok, so it wasn’t exactly Alicia-style; it was Natalie-style-heavily-influenced-by-Alicia-spirit. I had planned to celebrate my birthday “big” this year in honor of your own love of celebrating. This idea was confirmed even more as I heard multiple people tell me recently that celebrating brings more to life than we really understand. Also, Daniel and I talked with friends about Jesus’ first miracle – turning water into wine at a party. Wine for those who were already well-sloshed to continue partying when he could have said “You already had so much you don’t even know the stuff I just made is the good stuff. Why bother?”
Maybe, Alicia, you understood more about God’s idea of celebrating life than I do. And as I think about your life now – a perpetual party in the sky (possibly?), I hope you can see some glimpses of heaven here on earth as you watch us from afar. And so I set a date to celebrate – really celebrate – my birthday this year, something I rarely do intentionaly beyond going out to eat with Daniel (although I always enjoy that too!). That date was January 21st.
However, my plans began to fade as I realized I wanted to keep my sister’s kids so she could have some much needed time alone, and January 21st became the date that seemed to work best. How was I going to celebrate while attending to the needs of 5 small children? I pondered this and came up with alternative dates – none of which suited my taste. Alicia, you may be privy to such information already, but Becky will have another appointment with the transplant surgeon the day before my birthday. All the news concerning her health lately has been dismal; while I try to hope this appointment may have a different report, I wanted to be able to celebrate easily and attentively– not in the aftermath of more bad news, trying to hide my tears and quiet my raging thoughts.
And then Alice got sick, a chest cold. Obviously Becky was not going to send her kids to my house with Alice running a fever of 102 and coughing incessantly. So I put my plan back into action, even though it meant mysteriously making Daniel stop at the grocery store on our way to my in-law’s house and throwing together my favorite breakfast at 11:30pm Friday night.
The day did not go as smoothly as I had planned. I had hoped to go running, play games with Alice and spend a large amount of the afternoon scrap booking. It snowed instead- no run. I awoke to a beautiful, pure white blanket covering the ground. I tried to imagine you had ordered it for me – sent down to remind me of beauty. The first real snow of the season is always so breath taking.
Alice was too sick to play games with her temperature at 104. I longed to have my little girl back, to see her smile and hear her breathe easily. We read instead, book after book after book until I thought I would go crazy. I celebrated when she ate a cup of yogurt instead of my birthday cake. My nursing and outloud-reading duties filled the overwhelming majority of the afternoon leaving me less than an hour to pull out my scrap booking. I almost didn’t bother.
A single phone call sent me into another cloud of self-pity. Our family vacation which I had been put in charge of planning and had done so by spending hours researching and agonizing over was changed to a totally different venue by a 20minute conversation. All my hard work gone up in smoke. (I know, I know – no use crying over spilled milk. I am glad the new location will be easier on the pocketbook and offers some amenities my plan did not – very excited about the nearby park.)
The icing on the cake, if you’ll excuse the expression, was an argument between Daniel and I over a movie (of all things) we watched after the kids were in bed. Hollywood – you drive me bananas! and so does the need to analyze every movie we watch because we rarely agree on the analysis.
By the end of the night, I was feeling so sorry for myself, I didn’t even want to eat my birthday cake. Then I stepped outside to put a can in the recycle bin and breathed the clean, crisp air; and it hit me – all the things I have to celebrate, my little bit of heaven right here on earth. And so these are the glimpses of heaven I had today. Maybe you saw them too and hoped I would live my day big, just like you loved doing.
I love you, Alicia. I miss you. But rock on, girl – can’t wait for the ultimate party with you.