The week after my birthday, my daughters throw me a surprise party — I walk into the house where the girls had made cupcakes and hung streamers and balloons and think, how nice, the girls have been busy this afternoon — and then my office door opens and person after person appears, like that classic skit of clowns unfolding from a tiny car — a skit so dated my daughters likely don’t know it.
Afterwards, my older daughter revealed the plan had been weeks in the making, and I must have known, because I know everything. Apparently, not.
My brother’s here, too: perhaps the greatest surprise. While he grills sausage, we laughingly make our usual pact — no ER or law enforcement this visit. Most of these people I have known now for years; many moved us from our old house. One guest laments the tape on the ceiling holding up the streamers, and I shrug it off. While I love this house and don’t particularly like painting ceilings, we live here now, and I hope to have birthday after birthday in these rooms.
That night, we set off the remaining Roman candles from my daughter’s high school graduation party — yes, we packed and brought those fireworks, too.
Sometimes we don’t say anything. Sometimes
we sit on the deck and stare at the masses of
goldenrod where the garden used to be
and watch the color change form day to day…
— From Hayden Carruth’s “Silence”