When we announced our engagement, we received so many thoughtful gifts. Most were picture frames, a few were books. But today, I received my absolute favorite gift of all. I know I shouldn’t pick favorites, but in this case, I’m ignoring the etiquette and naming names.
The other day, I asked my friend Janet to do a reading at my wedding. I love her, and our friendship really has grown stronger and stronger as the years have gone by. She suggested a Pablo Neruda poem, and I felt like she was reading my mind. I never bookmark things anymore; most of what I wish to revisit, I simply pin on Pinterest. That said, my Chrome bookmarks have been full of Neruda poems for years.
Some of his work is a bit too graphic, but I found a poem in the book she sent me this week called “Your Laughter” and it hit me instantly that this is what Janet must absolutely read at my wedding.
The thoughtfulness of this gift, which came with an adorable “I Love You to the Moon and Back” wooden chalkboard-style sign, really made my day.
I’ve always been a birthday person. I’m not sure that I believe that there’s a limit to how often you should celebrate yourself, but I’m certain it’s more than once per year. It’s for that very reason that I tend to stretch my birthday for a full weekend of festivities.
I was worried that this year might be different. New place, new job, new friends. What if New York wasn’t prepared to accommodate my birthday wish — small and simple in comparison to many a New Yorker — and what if I was left to celebrate in solitude?
I very rarely take the time to stop, and look how far I’ve come in just one year. Last January was the hardest, perhaps most painful, start to a new year that I’ve had . . . ever. In just one year, I lost a dear family friend and my grandmother, and my father suffered a massive heart attack. Naturally for me, most of these moments were catalogued through various social mediums (mostly Facebook and Twitter), and today was one of those days where I stopped to look back.
I feel fortunate to have the role models and inspirational people in my life that I currently do. I feel lucky to enjoy all of the people — especially my co-workers and clients whom I’ve encountered in New York — who are regular fixtures in my life. That being said, a part of me remains empty, awaiting to be filled as I attempt to sustain the memories of my grandmother and my family friend.
While this has definitely been the hardest year, especially in the absence of the loved ones I’ve lost, it’s been an educational year full of new beginnings. A cousin out West welcomed a beautiful baby boy into this world. My sister and her husband celebrated their first anniversary. My best friend’s brother is getting married next week. My sister and I relocated for job opportunities and promising futures. My grandfather joined Facebook and downloaded Skype. My mother started yoga. My dad started relaxing more and working less. All good things have to start somewhere.
I had all of these thoughts, and began looking through the files on my hard drive to find the eulogy I wrote and recited at my Bubby Cyrille’s funeral. I was able to deliver it tearlessly on the day of her funeral (in front of hundreds upon hundreds of people — there was barely standing room), but now, almost a year later, I cannot get through it in the privacy of my home without breaking down in tears after the first paragraph. I shared it on Facebook shortly after the funeral, but would like to share it here so you can understand why I will spend my entire life trying to, and hopefully succeeding in, to some degree, sustaining her memory by living in her loving, well-meaning footsteps.