Birthdays are for celebrating this life my mama pushed me into the world to live. And this year was no exception.
Sarah moved heaven and earth to fly in from Holland to spend my birthday with me for the sixth year running. It was a sodden 12 degrees and raining when I picked her up from the airport; steam was actually pouring from our mouths as we ran shivering to the car. Viva la summer in Manchester! When we got home I made tea, and Sarah held my advance reading copy in her hands. Babes, it’s an actual book, she said to me, and we stared at each other boggle-eyed, and tea was very quickly cast aside for whiskey. Sam later joined us, and so began a five night festival of joy.
We had no plans, nevertheless magic fell into place; on Saturday, my birthday, we went to local markets where the heavy grey sky cleared, and pure, hot sunshine fell on our soon-to-be-bare shoulders. Cue live music, sunburn (!!) and pints. On the walk home we discovered a ‘summer of love’ festival in full swing at a local pub: circus tent, more live music, wood carving, dancing, glitter-face-painting, and more cold beer. We were utterly agog. More sunshine on Sunday, more pints in the sun at more markets. More, more, more. Plus, my first bouquet of fresh peonies that are changing colour as they age (what is this magic?!).
There are old hurts that resurface, and absences that can be painfully present at times like birthdays. The only way I know how to endure the shadows is to accept they’ll always come, and keep close to the feeling of being nearly goodness-sick with gratitude for all I have.