Well, today was my birthday. I’m officially 28 now.
The same age my Mama was when she died.
It’s a really weird feeling… But I kinda figured it would be. I feel like my life’s just getting started, y’know? There’s so much left for me to do. So much I haven’t done. So many things I have to look forward to… Is this how she felt? Did she have any idea her life would get cut so short? Would she have done anything differently if she knew her time was almost up?
And what if I died tomorrow? I mean, how would I–
Ugh. I don’t even wanna think about that. But it’s kinda hard not to.
And I already know next year will be even worse. It’s crazy thinking that pretty soon I’ll be older than her. In a few years, I’ll be older than Papa too. And, unless something bad happens, I’ll keep getting older and older after that. I’ll have kids of my own and watch them grow up. My hair will go gray. My skin will get all wrinkly. I’ll live a long, full life.
All things they never got to do.
So yeah, today was pretty hard. And not having Hope here made it even harder.
I’ve been trying to be understanding about this whole thing. I really have. But it’s still not easy for me. We got in a stupid fight about it a couple weeks ago, and things were still a little awkward right up to when she left yesterday morning.
Today wasn’t all bad though, all things considered. It was a hell of a lot better than I thought it’d be. And it was actually all thanks to Hope.
I had no idea she was planning something special for my birthday. I mean, I figured we’d just celebrate when she gets back in a couple days. But when I came back from lunch with Tante Joce and Grandpa, I found something waiting for me… Turns out she left Charlie with a present and a key to our apartment. I had no idea!
She got me the first three issues of a new Batman comic series that just came out. I almost couldn’t believe it — Hope’s one of the only people who knows how much I still love Batman. It’s kinda my secret ‘guilty pleasure’, I guess. But I never even told her that I’d been eyeing the new comics for a while… How the hell did she know?!
I dived into the first one right away, and found a cute little note inside the front cover, telling me I had one more surprise coming.
About an hour later, a delivery came for me… And I nearly died when I opened the box.
It was a new set of Altara cookware… The kind I’ve been drooling over for months. She even got me a new mixer and scale too! I don’t even wanna think about how much it probably cost her.
Hope had tucked another little note at the bottom of the box, saying she knows I’m too damn stubborn to throw out my crappy old cookware and buy some new ones… So she took it upon herself to do it for me. I couldn’t stop laughing.
She knows me too damn well. Better than anyone else ever could.
I hate being away from her. I hate that we had to cancel our trip. I hate that she couldn’t be here for my birthday. I hate that this stupid restaurant thing has me feeling more stressed and frustrated than I’ve ever been. And I hate how much everything’s been changing lately with Hope’s job.
But I love her. I love every single thing about her. I love that she’s so dedicated to her career. I love that she always pushes me to do better. I love how she always supports me no matter what.
And I love that she loves me too.
That’s what I keep trying to remind myself of — We love each other. We support each other. And that’s the greatest feeling in the world. It really is.
It’s just… Some days… I dunno. I mean, all that good stuff… It doesn’t automatically erase the bad stuff, y’know? Hope doing all that awesome stuff for my birthday doesn’t erase how upset I was that she wasn’t here. Finding an awesome new recipe for my menu doesn’t change how frustrated and overwhelmed I feel about this whole restaurant thing. Stuff like that. Know what I mean?
It’s all about balance, I guess. Does the good outweigh the bad? Or is it the other way around?
Today, the good definitely won.
But there are other days when I really can’t tell.