I’d have to say it feels pretty darn good to be fort-eight. I’ve known since yesterday. It helped being able to sleep in until eight, something that I’m pretty sure I haven’t done in years.

The day was a darn good one as birthdays go—as any day goes, for that matter. Michael spent it with me, told me we could do anything I wanted. So, first order of business after hurriedly putting Calvin on the bus—Michael still in bare feet though it was in the low thirties—was to head to our favorite coffee shop and sip lattes while sinking into a lazy brown love seat.

From there we traveled up Route 1 a spell to a Wiscassett antique mall where we picked out a desk so that I don’t have to slouch on the sofa with the computer burning into my lap. By then it was lunchtime so we stood in line, bathed in sun and wind, at a little shack called RED’s Eats on the edge of the Sheepscot River. Michael found an open table on the back deck and sat with Rudy at his feet. “What would you like, deah?” asked a plump woman from behind a window who was sporting pink lipstick, a brassy hairdo and a thick Maine accent. ”I’ll have a lobster roll with mayo, a fried haddock sandwich with lettuce, tomato and cheese, small fries and two tap waters, please.” A few minutes later our order came up, the overstuffed buns set into crinkled foil squares on a red plastic tray. The sandwiches didn’t stand a chance.

Back in the car we warmed ourselves in the sun's luxurious heat, drove half-way back home then veered south on a winding road over tidal inlets, past salt marshes, bogs and wooded lots. At the end of the line gleamed a beautiful crescent beach and a vast sparkling blue sea meeting a similar horizon. We walked hand in hand to a rocky outcrop which we climbed, stepping gingerly between glistening clumps of blackish seaweed, to the dry rocks on top where we sat and gazed at the sights for a while. These gorgeous striated rocks sit perpendicular now, the result of thousands of years stressed by glacial muscle nudging them onto their sides. We walked back against the wind, the soft sand working my booted calves, my loose socks inching their way down with each stride until bunched uncomfortably in the arch of my foot. I told Michael as much and we chuckled.

When we got home I gave Calvin a big hug and he tried to wriggle his way out of my grasp. I didn't yield and eventually got a big smile as he shoved his arm into my mouth so I'd nibble it. He loves that. Later, after feeding Calvin dinner and kissing him goodnight, I sat down and wrote this in front of a rolling fire, leaning forward periodically for a sip of wine, while Michael cooked delicious mustard chicken, braised fingerling potatoes and steamed artichokes. Finally, I made a birthday wish on a single candle stuck near the middle of a small cheesecake.

Earlier in the day my mom had called and sang me Happy Birthday on the message recorder. I called her back after dinner and got an excellent off-key version from her, my brother and his wife. I told mom how it had been in the fifties today, nearly freezing at night, but expected to be close to eighty on Sunday. “How can they do that?” she asked. I giggled. She giggled with me.

I’d be remiss not to mention that one of the ironically beautiful things that happened on my birthday was to get a call from Calvin’s neurologist, something she doesn’t make a habit of. While sitting in the coffee shop earlier, Michael beside me, she and I discussed Calvin’s treatment options as I hushed my voice so as not to disturb the other patrons. We talked about his changing, increasing seizures, his brain’s development, the current meds he’s on and, most importantly, various drug side effects. Then, she thoughtfully added, “if he were my kid, I’d put him on Keppra.” And so it is, we will be adding to Calvin's current regimen the drug he first tried when he was two, hoping for a better outcome. Before I pushed “end” I said, “I love you.” She replied, “I love you too. Give a big hug to the little guy and the big guy for me.”

What better way to celebrate my forty-eighth birthday than spending it with Michael, Calvin and Rudy, getting calls and messages from old friends and family, eating amazing food, hearing my mom's happy voice, while surrounded by an abundance of beauty and love? I can't think of any.

photo by Michael Kolster

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