Today would have been my mother’s 88th birthday. She was born in Stockholm, Sweden and every year for her birthday she had to have a Princess Torte (cake). A Princess cake is a Swedish dessert with white cake surrounded by layers of whipped cream, raspberry jam, and a thick cream filling, surrounded by a cover of green marzipan (almond paste), dusted with powdered sugar with a frosted pink rose on top. When we lived in Massachusetts, my sister would drive to Worcester to The Crown Bakery and get one for her every November. Once we moved to Maine, that became too much of a drive, so poor mom was deprived of her cake for a couple of years. Then last year, I found a European Bakery near where we live and to my surprise and delight, they sold princess cakes. I arranged to get one for her, and she was absolutely stunned when she saw it. She ate the entire 8-inch cake herself over the next week and said she wanted more. Last spring when she was in the hospital I got one for Mother’s Day to make it more special. It was one of the last solid foods she ate before she passed. I’m missing her incredibly today but having the memory of last year’s successful surprise is helping me immensely. So, happy birthday mom, wherever you are, I miss you incredibly, and I love you like crazy.
I can see it so clearly in my head. A pink birthday cake dotted with candles in the middle of the table. Big, bright balloons hanging from the ceiling gently blowing in the summer breeze. Party hats, streamers, toy horns, confetti finish the party tableau. The only thing that is missing is the birthday girl. She’s eight-years-old today, my niece’s daughter. How can she have been in this world for eight years now and I’ve never set eyes on her? I’ve never spoken to her. I have no connection to her at all except through blood. Her mother, my niece, was my heart growing up. She and I were so close and then she turned 20 and for whatever reason decided to move across the country to California. She changed her phone number. She unfriended the entire family on Facebook. She did everything she could to tell us to stay away. She didn’t need us anymore. She didn’t want us in her life anymore. And she broke my heart in ways I didn’t know were possible. And now, for the past eight years on July 27th, I wish my grand-niece Lilly happy birthday and make the same wish. A wish that I get to see her one day. To meet her and to talk to her. To be able to tell her everything I’ve wanted to but I couldn’t because her mother made the decision that we weren’t worthy enough to be in their life. I hope she is happy. I hope she has a great life. I hope she has a happy birthday and many, many more like them. But most importantly I hope, in some way, she knows that she has a family who has never met her who love her so very much. Happy birthday, Lilly.