Tomorrow would have been your birthday. I had a dream of your birthday or maybe it was a memory of your last birthday. I saw you blowing out the candles and laughing. If only it were that easy to wish you back. I’m afraid I’m going to forget your laugh, your scent, the particular bend of your fingers.
In the hospital, you were so sure you’d be home for your birthday. I remember my eyes welling, threatening to spill over onto your bed. I didn’t know how to tell you I didn’t think you’d be going home again. Instead I swallowed the lump in my throat and kissed your hand, telling you I hoped you’d be home for your birthday, too.
And you are home. Home among hosts of angels and saints. Home with Grandpa. Home with your mother who gets to be with you on your birthday for the first time in stacks of decades.
Yesterday I was deleting numbers from my phone. Numbers no longer in service. Numbers of friends who have faded into people I once knew. I came to your number, my finger hovering above the red delete button. I couldn’t press the button. Silly, I know, but I couldn’t.
I’d like to call and wish you happy birthday tomorrow. I’d tell you about riding my bike with Pete and how proud I was when he crossed the finish line. I’d tell you how well Terry is doing. You’d no doubt tell me that he just gets better and better looking. I’d agree, smiling at your love for him. I’d tell you crazy stories from this wild year of teaching and we’d laugh.
But tomorrow my finger will just hover over your phone number. Tomorrow I will cry and plumb my memories for happy times, like when I sat on your lap on our trip together, my arms and legs sticking out all over. You said I was never too big to sit on your lap. Not to point out the obvious, Gramma, but I was too big, way too big for your small lap. But I didn’t care. And neither did you. You always had room for me and for that I’m grateful.
Happy birthday, Gramma. I wish we were celebrating together. I miss you terribly and I love you. I love you so much.