Friday, January 24, 2014

Stayin' Alive

The birthday girl in our hot tub, which by the way died this winter.
Today is my best friend Debra's birthday. She may not want the world to know she is turning 60 but too bad, anyone can find that fact out in about two seconds on the Internet so get over it. I hope she has a great day, a great year, a great rest of her life, but most of all I hope I make it through today and wake up tomorrow. Here's why:

Seven years ago I turned 60--again, why hide it--and Debra was there to help me celebrate, if that's the right word. We had a cake. It was a small group of celebrants: me, Deb, Mitch. There were only three candles on the cake, because really, nobody in their right mind is going to sit around sticking 60 candles into a cake. Anyway, it was only about a foot from my face when it was time to make my wish and blow out the candles. My wish was, "I hope I make it to see Debra turn 60." I then blew out the candles, only they didn't all go out. One of them stayed lit. I blew again. It stayed lit again. Finally I blew it out, but I was pretty shaken, since I had always heard--and actually believed--that if all the candles went out your wish would come true, and if not--well, not.

This event came close on the heels of my "you've got cancer, oh it's not cancer" lung surgery, so I was still reeling from my brush with death, and my breathing capacity was not yet back to full steam. (Even though it was not cancer and turned out to be "nothing," it still took months to recuperate.) So that was why I couldn't blow out the candles, according to Debra. I assumed otherwise, of course, being one to always settle on the worst possible scenario as the most likely outcome. And so, ever since then, from time to time, I have thought of that birthday wish and wondered: would I last to Debra's 60th?

Then just about a week ago, Mitch helpfully pointed out that maybe Debra was the one who wouldn't make it to 60, and that's why the candles didn't go out. And while that sounded bad too, it sounded better since I would definitely honor her memory for the rest of my life, and I although I would miss her terribly, I would still be here to write that Great American Novel in which she would figure prominently, or paint the painting that would get me into the Met someday, and who knows--it might even be a portrait of Debra.

Anyway, today's the big day and so far we are both still alive--I think, I have not checked with her yet this morning. I better call her all day long, just to be sure.

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