Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Willow's One

There'd be a picture of a birthday cake here, but on the dial-up it takes too long to download the pix, so just pretend there's a cake in this spot, okay? Thanks.

Late into the night and up again at nine to make this house into a home or by God die trying. From the last few hallway-lining boxes to shelves, walls, and cabinets went books, pictures, clocks and knick-knacks; I spent most of the evening, for example, in the bedroom, deciding what clothes to fold and which to store in red plastic bins, and most of the morning on kitchen minutia while Darcie hung and rehung pictures.

Finished by noon, with time to spare I went out in search of candles, sponges, a tablecloth. The latter took five stores to find, so I treated myself to a stuffed dog and cat for the baby, and a card with a dog and a cat on it -- guess what her favorite animals are? The balloons, red, blue and yellow, and a couple of those mylar stars that say "Happy Birthday," poked the back of my head as I drove, blocking the rear view; I almost killed some old lady merging onto the highway on the way back.

The festivities began late, as is their familial wont; Ginny arrived just before four, starting the flood that would fill our newly minted home. Matt and Alicia had to work, as did Darcie's brother Josh, but that just left us enough room at the table for the rest of the immediates: my siblings and parents, darcie's parents and sister -- and us, of course, and the guest of honor, the girl with the reddish blond hair only now growing in long enough to cover her scalp, the suddenly walking one year old Willow Myla. My girl.

For most of Willow's life, she's been the center of attention much of the time. But birthdays are special, and not even deliberately so: from the moment everyone showed up, something happened, and Willow was suddenly the eye of the storm -- no mean feat for a small tempest herself.

From the moment she met each one at the door, buzzing merrily on her new dimestore kazoo, she loved it, and so did we. She danced to the Muppet Show theme song on cue, walked from grandma to grandma and back again, threw rasperries at the air purifier all the way across the room at supper. She loved the play piano the Jesse and his girlfriend Jasmine brought especially, dancing and singing in perfect pitch; I'm sure we can all grow to love the four classical and four nursery rhyme songs it plays, at least for long enough to matter.

Willow went to bed early, and minor small talk and reminiscence centered mostly on international travel memories -- Bangladesh ilooming on everyone's mind. It was wonderful to see everyone even if they were somehow a bit less there for ME this time than usual.

But I remember, one year ago today, what life was like the moment the hole I discovered I had had in me all my life without knowing suddenly filled. And I know Willow isn't the only miracle that made today and all its promise fulfilled. So, when everyone had gone, I thought a while, and cleaned the dishes, and lay down next to Darcie in front of the TV, and thanked her for Willow -- for helping her reach this godwilling first of many, making her the good-natured genuine, generous child she is. I remember, you know -- I remember that Darcie is the life of us all here in this new home, the key, the lynchpin. I am thankful for Willow, who fills my heart -- but I am thankful also, and some days more, for the wife and mother whose love has made us whole, a family.

May I always remember to honor she who gave birth and gives life to my daughter on her birthday, and on every day. Happy Birth-Day, Darcie. I love you, too.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:22 PM |

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