Her big brown eyes turned to look at me, “can you play it mama”. Big pools of innocence staring up at me; she has no idea what she is asking. How playing it will release the floodgates. How listening to the words will reopen every wound. How the song will take me to a place that I’ve been hiding from for months.
// There was a time when I was alone, nowhere to go and no place to call home.
My only friend was the man in the moon, and even sometimes he would go away too.
Neverland is home to lost boys like me, and lost boys like me are free//
Today is your birthday. I wonder how you celebrate a birthday in heaven. Do you get to eat endless bowls of your favorite cereal? Stand outside and wait for the ice cream truck and get a dozen of your favorite treats? Chinese? Pizza? I remember when you complained that the radiation killed all your taste buds and everything tasted like meatloaf. I hope it doesn’t like that anymore.
I wonder if there will be a cake. Candles. Who will sing to you? So many times I wanted to sing to you on your birthday. So many times I couldn’t. Where were you? Didn’t you want to hear us sing to you? I guess it doesn’t matter now. It’s strange missing you on your birthday, when I have missed so many. But I missed you then and I miss you now. Oh I wish things had been different.
I used to get jealous you know. Other friends with their dads. They would come to watch them cheer and dance. I could always find them sitting somewhere on the sideline. You were never there. Sure you showed up when it was important. Graduations. My wedding. I guess that was enough. I learned to take what I could get. And I was grateful. So grateful. Don’t misunderstand me. I just wanted more. I deserved more.
I’m not jealous of anyone anymore. Everyone has a story to tell. A dark part of their heart. A part they don’t share. A part they hide from. Secrets buried. Memories so fragmented from years of trying to forget. And then jagged edges glued together from years they tried to piece those fragments back together. In hopes of some small memory. Some small hope that it wasn’t all a dream and the foggy and cloudy memories did exist. That it was real. And they go back and forth between trying desperately to forget and painfully trying to remember. I know that I’m not alone. So I’m no longer jealous. Everyone has a story. You are mine. And I forgive you. I always have.
It is your birthday after all. I wonder who your talking to. If you are boring them to tears with a discussion of the anatomy of a bird. That used to bore me to tears. Or maybe you’re sitting somewhere with a lukewarm cup of coffee reading Rudyard Kipling. Or writing. Endless scribbles in a big yellow pad. Or on a diner napkin. Maybe someone made you an egg cream. Or salami and eggs. I hope you spend today doing whatever it is you want to. And I hope you enjoy it. I’ll be missing you from down here like I have for many more then just the 2 years you have been gone. You will always be my favorite of the lost boys even if I struggle to understand what made you feel so lost. So go on, and celebrate your birthday in whatever way makes you happy. Everyone deserves happiness.
I will love you always