On Wednesday evening, we celebrated the 66th birthday of my Father-in-Law. Many of you know that every year I am commissioned to make him a cake (you may remember seeing photos of the black Chewbacca cake from year-before-last, or of last September's "Moses Parts The Red Sea" cake-- two of my greatest achievements) but this year things have been busy and I put off the cake making to Farm Fresh, who made Phil a perfectly lovely birthday cake featuring a photo of Lola (below) whom Phil affectionately refers to as "Jimmy Jaw."
As expected, it was a hit (though not nearly as fucking awesome as my homemade cakes, obviously). Sitting there surrounded by our family, ranging from Sutt, who is 7, to Papa, who is 92, made me consider just how much life changes from beginning to end. How much we change. How life bends and molds us, from an energetic youth for whom not even the sky is the limit, to an elder, marred by age but rich with experience. The distance between is so very far, though I suspect it passes even more quickly than I realize. Because, personally, I think life is long. Despite dying at 55, I kind of think my Dad would have agreed with me.
The past couple of years have been a growing experience for me. Maybe it's getting older, maybe it's getting further down the line after losing my Dad. I know that I identified with him so strongly and for so many years that when he died, it was like part of myself was gone too. Suddenly, I was missing not only my sweet Daddy, but also a huge chunk of my own identity. I feel like coming to terms with that and finally understanding how I felt has allowed me to forge ahead in filling that hole that his death left in me. Or maybe his death only widened a hole that was already there. All I really know is that for years I would forget to eat, could never sleep, everything was worry, worry, worry all the time. Fears that normal people have-- flying, heights, spiders-- never bothered me but things like worrying that a serial killer would slit the window screen, crawl in, and murder us all with an ax during the night if I left the window open could make me half crazy (note: I still have this fear. I do NOT like to sleep with any windows open but MY bedroom windows, because I know I would hear an intruder and TAKE HIS ASS OUT IF HE TRIED TO FUCK WITH MY FAMILY). But finally, FINALLY, I'm learning maybe I shouldn't worry so much. Maybe Belly WILL survive even if she didn't wear socks with her boots, maybe B CAN be trusted to feed himself if I neglected to make his lunch. Turns out that even when I fuck up, which does occasionally happen, the world doesn't stop spinning. Nothing falls to ruin. Life goes on.
So I'm happy to say that at 36, I may still have irrational fears. I may still miss my Dad. But I'm growing up. I'm getting wiser. I'm learning to embrace the moment a bit more. I'm learning that things aren't always as bad as they seem. There's a lot of good in the world. That maybe those people who say they are "too blessed to be stressed" aren't the complete fucking morons I always thought they were (I'm still on the fence about this one, for the record.) But there's hope. And hope is always a good thing.