Oh, where to begin.
Sometimes the world will break your heart. You couldn’t possibly exist if you didn’t learn how to shut it off, at least a little. Plane crashes in favorite places. Grandmothers who love to read slowly losing their eyesight and hearing. Grandmothers who love to read reading their books extra fast because they don’t know if they’ll see tomorrow, and they need to know how the story goes.
Not that we ever know how the story goes.
I’ve been so distracted in things – big and little – that I failed to notice until now that my little girl is turning four. Every birthday has that achy push/pull, the gains/losses, the hello/goodbye from one year to another. I’ve had Desmond’s first birthday and many losses to process and mourn. I’ve had celebrations. I’ve had summer heat and writing and broken air conditioners and empty gas tanks and empty wallets. Full days and full humidity daze. So many details. Together they make up the bigger pictures of our large lives.
Sometimes the world will put the pieces of your heart together again.
Scarlet is not four yet – not until Tuesday, but she has had her fourth birthday party. To me this unlocks a very special level. It is something I didn’t even know how much I was seeking. My own fourth birthday party was at McDonald’s. My mom, a health nut/art teacher had to throw something together. It was only three weeks after my father had died. Life had to go on for me, as normally as possible. There was nothing normal about McDonald’s and a non-homemade cake and grief everywhere, but what a gift she gave me.
The details started coming together, as they often beautifully do, only six days before Scarlet’s party this year.
Cassidy and I are two creative and ambitious people when all forces are in check. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
That’s not the story of today.
On July 4th, two days before Scarlet’s party, we still had a ton to do. We hadn’t planned the menu, or finished the decorations or shopped for major items. And yet Cassidy decided it was the perfect day to turn our previously ugly toolshed into a Tardis.
In sweltering mosquito-laced humidity, the vision slowly turned to reality.
After then and only then, would you believe, we finished the party prep in 36 hours. The short story of the cardboard cut-outs is that Cassidy got a lot of cardboard and a projector from work. He Googled certain images and traced them onto the cardboard. With the eventual help from my mom, we all painted them. Then Cassidy cut them out and attached them to stakes. It came together!
We even did it while projecting a live Phish show onto our garage door. Who does that?! Cassidy does.
Now I don’t do much in this world in way of cooking/crafting, etc. but I made these cupcakes myself from scratch. The leaning cupcake tower was very structurally sound, as far as we could tell, and was made by an engineer friend.
My mom, and Han Solo in Carbonite, thought very highly of my cupcakes:
The stage was set, and the characters were in place..
We hid the decorations from Scarlet until Cassidy had placed them beautifully all along the lawn and driveway:
We have a fork in the driveway. Right is our neighbor’s house. Left is our house..
This white rabbit was next to the mailbox so that people knew they were at the right place:
People like this? In the right place.
My mom and I always talk about that one moment at your wedding or your party or your children’s party in which you are fully present and you look all around you. You are not helping with cake. You are not holding any children. You are not dancing or eating or taking photos. You are just watching. It’s a moment in which everyone is having fun in their grooves. There are people you love talking with other people you love. They have just met. Kids are laughing, grownups are eating or drinking. There may be swinging.
And of course – the finale, but not the conclusion.
Ah, my heart:
She wanted everyone to hear her wish. We were so sure it would be to have a real cat named Dinah. Nope. It was to have a pony she didn’t already have. Not a real pony, mind you. A My Little Pony. Whew. Wish granted.
And then the closing ceremony, in which your house empties but your heart remains so full.
At night, after the sugar shock had worn off, she asked for presents. As a kid I would just get such a squishy feeling opening each gift and feeling a bit unworthy at all of the generosity and love. And now as a mom, I no longer feel unworthy (well, maybe a bit) at the love of my friends and my child’s friends. She’s nearly four – it’s not uncommon for kids her age to plow through gifts – not stopping to examine each one with a choked up feeling in their throats. And yet, she did stop with each one to open it and play with it. Each one.
Oh, family and friends of mine. Past, present and future. Do you even know…? I hope you do.
Thank you for piecing together my broken hearts, and I hope I do the same. Thank you for loving this gigantic piece of my heart: