I still remember planning Matthew’s first birthday. Everything had to be just right and full of what he loved. We both had so much fun. This only got better as he grew. We counted the days, made wish lists and picked the “just right” cake and matching plates. But one of my favorite moments was blowing out the candles. You could just see his excitement as he shyly made his way to the cake, closed his eyes and wished as the candles went out.
Helen was probably a week old when I started thinking about her first birthday. No more dump trucks and superheroes, but a tea party. I couldn’t wait! Of course, I had no idea how hard all those plans would be for her. She made it through her party, but when I look at her pictures, I can see how miserable the whole event was for my girl. And, of course, I clearly remember how miserable it was for the rest of us. By her third birthday, I knew more of what she needed and I was learning to let go of more of what I wanted. But I desperately wished she could blow out her candles. However, the crowd of people, the noise of the singing, the heat of the candles (not to mention her physical inability to blow on anything)…too, too much. I tried to make it not matter, but it seemed so important and one more precious part of growing up we were missing.
So we practiced and prayed and the day of her party we managed. She was glad to see everyone, but was agitated and slightly on edge, so I didn’t mention the cake or candles. Finally, everyone got ready to go. Just as the last guest was about to head out, Helen asked if we could sing to her. My sweet friend stayed and we quietly sang Happy Birthday. Then she leaned forward and, with Daddy’s help, blew out her candles. I can still picture in my mind exactly what she looked like. Beautiful.
I have no idea if she made a wish that day, but you can be sure I watched one of mine happen right in front of me.