Another Candle

Circa 1983
Circa 1983

Dear Oliva,

It’s my birthday. I’m thinking about what your last birthday in your 30s will be like. I hope when it’s your turn you will feel loved and serene. Excited to look forward at what lies ahead and comfortable with the stretch of road behind you. But mostly present and aware of the gift that you have in this one moment. Regrets, perceived shortcomings, terse interactions are all the things that get burned into our consciousness easily. I think we are all guilty of dismissing our strengths; happiness does not sit well or linger for most of us. Maybe that’s just the human condition. Regardless, avoid these traps. Allow yourself to be happy and accept that you are a gift. I will always see you as such my little cherub.

I’m including this poem by Billy Collins. A reflection on birthdays and a reminder that we are all children at heart no matter how old we may become.

I love you,

Mama

On Turning Ten

by Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light–
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

9 thoughts on “Another Candle

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