As I walked in the door, I heard, “Shhhhhh! She’s coming!” I tried to stifle a giggle. Brooke is obsessed with surprise parties even when it’s not anyone’s actual birthday — she asks us to “surprise” her at least once a week — so it wasn’t exactly shocking that she’d gotten Luau and Katie to agree that when I came home, clearly, they’d need to yell, “Surprise!” And so they did. But the real surprise was that there were other guests at the party. LOTS of other guests, in fact. Brooke had apparently been setting this up all afternoon.
And, of course, writing my special birthday song for everyone to sing, because clearly the traditional one just won’t do.
As I gushed over Brooke’s efforts, Katie was beside herself. I knew she’d been secretly working on something for me, mostly because she’d told me every day that she was, ya know, secretly working on something for me. It seems that she has her Mama’s loose belly when it comes to presents as the wait for the big reveal nearly killed her, but man, it was worth it. She painted this …
Isn’t that awesome? It’s her interpretation of this …
… the poster for Le Chat Noir, the infamous artists’ salon / cabaret in Paris. Can’t you just see 19th century Montmartre in all its bohemian glory in the picture? Drunk French artists – does it get any better than that? Yeah, my kid is cool.
I was so busy admiring the artwork, and receiving a constant stream of gifts from Brooke …
(over the course of the evening she would add a super ball, a tube of chapstick, a lot more loose change, a music box, and finally, Luau’s backpack, which I told her that I’d be happy to borrow but would have to eventually give back) that I didn’t even notice these …
… which I love, love, love because everyone picked a flower – Luau was the gerbera daisies, Brooke the red rose, and Katie the hydrangea (because I knew it would remind you of Nantucket, Mama!), but they’d have to be admired later, because it was time for dinner.
Dinner was a risk. We were going to one of my favorite places, but it’s not one of the restaurants that we know works for Brooke. In case it all went to hell, I made the girls pose for a picture before we walked in. When they got silly, the picture got awesome.
I hoped that wouldn’t be the last good memory of the evening.
It wasn’t. Not by a long shot.
THIS was Brooke at dinner.
Both Luau and I welled up watching her do this. This is big, guys. Huge. In fact, THIS might have been the best present of all.
After the night had ended and Luau and I were in bed, he would ask me what I’d been whispering to Brooke at dinner. I’d tell him that I told her how proud I was of her for being able to handle the restaurant and how happy it made me that we could all be together in a place that I loved on my birthday. And then I told her how much I love her and tried not to cry. (It didn’t work.) But first, there was “cake.”
Yeah, “cake” is in quotes. Earlier in the day, Luau had texted me, “we’re making you a “cake.””
Apparently Katie had a plan. As you may know, I’m trying hard to reclaim my health, and she was determined not to sabotage my efforts with cake. So she came up with this …
Watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe and pineapple topped with Cool Whip, frozen and decorated with raspberries and bananas (and later blueberries, added by Brooke.) It was shockingly delicious. And looked like this with the most awesome birthday candle in the history of the world on it …
Oh, and as we ate it (and Brooke ate her ice cream sandwich, because, yeah), Brooke looked around and said, “It’s birthday joy,” and then I cried again, cause that’s what I do.
Afterward, the “cake” looked like this. Poor thing – that’s what you get for being so good.
And that, my friends, is my 34th* birthday in pictures. I’d tell you what I wished for, but, well, I’d say I already got it all, even if I had to give the backpack back.
Thank you so very much for all your kind wishes and generous words yesterday. I am so, so grateful to have you all in my life.