~ For MDC(Y), on your Birthday. ~
As I drive, I switch cd’s again, one handed, keeping my gaze trained on the road ahead.
I can feel you eyeing me warily from the passenger seat, and I hear you teasing me about close calls with curbs and traffic signs as you tighten your safety belt for the fifth time. You still let me drive anyway, wondering out loud at what point exactly one of my side mirrors is going to become a casualty.
The snow falls, not really sticking to the road, and I crank up the heater a little against the December chill. Fall and Winter, my favorite times of the year, make me think of the fun times we’ve had. All around town, as I drive I see places we used to hang out, and it makes me smile.
I sing along to the music as I head towards our first stop, songs I think you might like to hear on the way to grabbing our traditional Birthday tacos. Seeming not to mind how off-key I am, you sing with me.
When we get to our destination, we go inside and sit together for hours at a small table and talk. About the old times mostly. About things that made us smile and laugh. Pranks and ridiculousness that we were happy to never really grow out of. About boys, and really awful horror movies, and notes we used to scribble back and forth in school about “space madness.” And about how terrible I still am at first person shooter games, despite your best efforts to teach me how to aim.
And I tell you all about my recent highs and lows, and the little bits of craziness I managed to get myself into in between.
You just laugh and shake your head at me, saying “oh Lord, only you.”
I toast to you, on your Birthday, and take a small sip of our “Mexican Hat” drink, complete with a little salt and lime, of course. Because there’s no other way to go. And I sit in the little building until my fingers and toes are numb, catching up with you.
And when it’s time to go, I put everything back inside my messenger bag and shrug it over one shoulder. I button up my coat as I head for the door, and walk around the side of the building.
Breathing into my palms to warm them, I stop beside you. Second row from the bottom, fourth from the right. Pressing my hand to your nameplate on the side of the mausoleum, I know you’re with me, so I don’t really feel the cold at all. And I know I don’t really have to say the words out loud for you to hear them, but I still do anyway.
“Happy Birthday,” I say, my breath making little clouds in the air. “I miss you.”
I know you’re smiling and joking, looking out for me as always, and it fills my heart with warmth.
“To Live In Hearts We Leave Behind Is Not To Die.” – Thomas Campbell