As I sit here, eating my breakfast of biscuits and gravy, I am reminded of a birthday party we had for Jessica. I think she was 11 or 12, I can’t remember exactly. I do remember that she had a slumber party, and that for breakfast she wanted biscuits and gravy, her favorite. As I set the plates in front of them, she and her friends all dug in except for one girl. She looked up at me with an expression of confusion and said “what is this?” Jessica replied “biscuits and gravy, duh. Haven’t you ever had it?” Much to our surprise, the poor child had never heard of it. As we all stared at her, she took a tentative bite, chewed and then politely asked if I had any cereal. Bless her heart. Jessica was dumbfounded that she’d never had what we deemed the Food of the Gods. It was her comfort food, and her “I should have gone to bed earlier” food, if you know
what I mean.
I remember Jessica’s first birthday party. I decorated our small apartment with balloons and streamers while she napped, and when she woke up the balloons freaked her out. We gave her the obligatory piece of chocolate cake with inch-thick frosting, and she didn’t make too big of a mess. Classy even way back then.
I remember her 16th birthday, which was not as exciting for her as she had previously planned. You see, the month before, she and her friend had this bright idea that they’d “borrow” my car while I wasn’t home, and she was busted big time, grounded for a month, and told she’d have to wait to get her license. She did eventually get her license but not until almost July. Oh, the shame she endured for those few weeks.
I remember her 18th birthday, the last one we had. Her birthday fell on a Monday, and she was mad because the bakery she loved, Kruta’s, was closed on Mondays. I made her a cake, which she appreciated, but I could tell it really wasn’t what she wanted. I told her I’d buy her a and Kruta’s cake on Tuesday, and she cheered up. Spoiled little princess.
But today. Today should have been different. She would have been 21. She had been planning her 21st birthday for a few years. She was so excited that it fell on a Friday. She made all kinds of plans, such as renting a party bus and bar hopping on The Landing, going to the casino in St. Louis, or maybe even going to Las Vegas. We liked to dream big, you see. Whatever we did, it would have included new shoes, of course.
I woke up this morning and knew it was going to hurt today. Hell, it’s hurt all week. It’s so damn unfair that she’s gone, that Kelli’s gone, and that although we will celebrate her birthday today, it will be under the cloud of loss that we live with now.