December 10, 2012

I hadn’t heard the Birthday Song since you had passed. We were all at the Brown’s for Bunce’s “When I’m Sixty-Four” party when our village started singing…

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
We love you
Happy Birthday
And may all your
Dreams come true
When you blow out the candle
One light stays aglow
That’s the love light in your eye
Where’re you go.

Initially, I started with our community chorus but I just couldn’t finish; I think I started losing it at the second “Happy Birthday.” Your absence overwhelmed me: we weren’t, we aren’t the same chorus. We were missing our crucially and helplessly and wonderfully off-key tenor.

When I was traveling around Europe this summer, I thought of you a lot. What a grand adventure! I know you would’ve been alllllll over hearing my stories. When we were in The Netherlands, we stayed with Emma’s cousin, Maegan (a real gem). We wanted to watch a movie together one night. Many suggestions were thrown out, including this Swedish film called As It Is In Heaven. Maegen raved about the flick but, unfortunately, it was in Ditch subtitles, aka gobblygook to this essentially unilingual American. I took a picture of the movie case though because something in me told me I should really watch it.

One night as I was talking with my parents, it came up that they had watched that same movie with you soon before you passed. My dad tells the story better than I could about that night but we still have on our answering machine a message from you on one of the days following (your voice carries through the house every time anyone goes to check our messages). You go on and on about the movie; it is a meaningful movie for many people but I think especially salient for you at that time in your life.

Whenever I go to the gym, I spend the first hour working on cardio. Without shame or excuse, I bring my iPad along so I can stream a show or two on Netflix whilst I bike or run; you know that we have only two channels at our house. The other day I wanted to watch something a bit longer as I had a lot of energy to blow off. I went through my ever-growing mental list of “must-see” movies and landed on As It Is In Heaven. I biked and watched and fell in love. But the scene that stopped me, that pulled me out of the story and into a space and place of yesterday, was the dancing scene at the church: everyone in laughing and singing, dancing and playing music. It is beautiful and joyous. It felt familiar: it felt like home. Even more familiar was the melody of the song that they sang as the woman played piano: it was the Birthday Song melody.

Again, I thought of you. Only this time, I didn’t feel your absence; I felt your presence. Biking at Pine Grove, in a public space, I tilted my head back, and LAUGHED. Oh, Candy, I laughed so hard. I miss you, it’s true, but you have given me so much over the years and continue to give to me and my spirit an energy that s fierce and good, positive and sustaining. I am certain I will be writing more about you over the next year – hell, for the rest of my life. I’m not sure where I stand on this whole heaven business but if anyone has made it there, I’m am faithfully convinced that it’d be you, Candy. I haven’t finished the movie (my hour on the bike coincided almost perfectly with that scene) but I look forward to finishing it. And having another laugh with you.



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