Another one of those very short stories that I’ve been sharing of late, one of those stories in which there is, perhaps, a little of reality seeping into the cracks. There are moments, special ones, in which, sometimes, things that need to be said … are. Those aren’t the worst of times, they aren’t the best of times, but regardless of all else they are the moments …
The day comes in the midst of winter, a time when the snows have blanketed the world, turning the air crisp, leaving the sounds a bit muted over the crunching of boots in the snow. It falls between the New Year—when promises are made, hopes are set, and the future is looked towards—and Valentine’s Day—when lovers meet, flowers are abundant, and, if there’s some chocolate as well, that’s not a bad thing either.
This day isn’t one that’s celebrated, held out to the world as being important. It’s a more private day, one in which the meaning is important to one small family. It’s what one would expect, all things considered when the family in question is identified.
Everyone in the Realm knows that Tera never wishes her birthday to be celebrated, and in the same way Keith’s birthday is, again, a day where he doesn’t expect, nor wish, for anything special to unfold. What they don’t know, what they cannot know, is that this approach to birthdays comes from someone that both Keith and Tera dearly love with all they are.
This day came a little bit darker than the year before, a little colder than it had been. The snows were a little deeper, the winds a bit more forceful in their rushing about the landscape. The light coming through the window wasn’t quite as warm as it passed within. It was, all things considered, a little bit bleaker for the three souls that had gathered together this particular morning.
The home was still a home, a dearly cherished place of memories, and so stories came as the three talked, smiled, and shared some black forest cake. There was coffee for one, hot chocolate for the other two souls. There were memories of arriving here, so long ago: to a new house, waiting for the family to make it a home; of the time spent making the home a better place, adding the touches that were needed to bring the love that came with the family to the place that would be their home, the family homestead. There were stories of the embarrassing moments of a son growing up: remembering that one day when he’d come home, carrying his bike, broken in two pieces, and then went off to learn how to weld the broken metal together, learning a skill when he was only a child at his father’s hands.
They mulled over the better things that came as time passed along, of the time spent in the garden, helping with the flowers, putting things as they needed to be, giving up—but gladly so—time with others for the sake of spending it with his parents. They remembered his going off to university and still being with them both; the long hours he’d spent studying, then helping his parents with their lives; that day, when the time came for him to walk across the stage, take the offered parchment, looking out into the crowd, and see them both there, proud of what he’d accomplished.
There were stories of how the family had grown, how a couple had watched their sons go off and become men, starting their lives, making both he and his love proud of all they had accomplished. They had seen their family growing, over time, the seasons changing, the time passing and that day when their eldest came to the door, holding hands with his Eternal, asking for his mother and father’s blessing. They recalled the joy the couple had felt in calling her “daughter,” welcoming her to their family: how she’d become every bit the eldest daughter as he was their eldest son; the visits; the holidays; the time spent together at the river, off on the occasional trip, finding their paths through time and cherishing each and every one of them.
The joys of just being a family.
On this birthday, there was one seat where the sunlight did linger. There was one mug set, for the soul that was with them. Watching, knowing there was warmth, love, and joy to be found. There was, in spite of the gloom of the moment, the feeling that she was there, holding them all, smiling at the black forest cake and nodding in approval. It was his birthday, he not needing—as was his way—anything special to be done.
But it was special.
The family had called through the day, souls from far and wide sending their love to him. There were conversations about everything and nothing at all. There were chuckles when the granddaughters and grandsons had wished him well. He’d spent the morning with his eldest son and cherished daughter—for she was his daughter, make no mistake about that—finding that cake, searching out that coffee, that hot chocolate, being out in the world, being part of what was, what is, and what, in time, would be. The afternoon was spent talking over that coffee, hot chocolate, and cake; spent with the laughter and smiles that chased the gloom away; spent with the stories that made the light brighter, the warmth stronger.
It was, in the end, a day for him, one that he enjoyed, for the family was together and always would be. This was the truth that, in time, would be the comfort needed.
It was a birthday, not of loss, not of missing aches, but of hope, love, and knowing that she’d not left him …
She had shared it with him, and she always would.