Today is your birthday. Right now I am thinking back to one year ago when I flew down to make you birthday dinner. I can’t recall what I made, except for the cupcakes…you know the ones I mean…the ones that were devoured in a span of only two or three days.
I remember we stopped off for supper on the way back from the airport. You ordered your steak to be so charred beyond recognition that it could have been considered a crime against decency. I suppose you could have said the same about my bleedingly rare cut of beef. Over your scotch on the rocks and my diet coke we managed to joke about the challenge of finding a birthday card for you. I never imagined anything as innocent as that could be so awkward…or so funny.
Those visits last year have all kind of melted together in my memory. But I clearly remember that when I went to leave that weekend, I told you that we should do this again next year. Despite knowing what I knew, I had a hope that today I would be in your kitchen filling the house with the smells of freshly baked rolls, hearty meat sauce, and, of course, those magic cupcakes.
So today is sad for me because I’m not there and neither are you.
I can’t get used to referring to you in the past tense. Over the last four months I’ve found myself looking for you…looking for signs of you. Sometimes I find you in the turn of a phrase. Sometimes you are in the clock on the microwave, or my cell phone, turning off without warning. And sometimes you are in the smell of freshly ground coffee beans in my kitchen, when there is no coffee to be found. Thank you for popping up in these “moments” and giving me a fleeting hello.
So today, on your birthday, I will fill my kitchen with the smell of those magical cupcakes. And maybe, just maybe, there will be a “moment” when you’re there too.