My birthday this year was so good, it’s going to go down as one of the best in my life. I don’t make such a statement lightly. Birthdays can be just the absolute pits, some years. This one wasn’t at all.*
There were so many perfect things that happened. I think the first thing I’ll tell you about is the flowers.
So there I was, sitting in my jim-jams and robe yesterday morning, reading a book at the kitchen bar, idly chatting with my family, sipping tea; you know, all that strenuous Island work.
There was a knock at the door. Deducing that we had company (it seemed logical) and that it was sub-optimal for me to receive guests in my ‘jams, I leaped up and scrambled into the shower.
Shower complete and dressed like a person should be dressed at that hour of the day, I peeked my head out of the bathroom to see who had come to call. But there was no guest. Instead, Mom, Rebecca, and Jack, the three of them there in the living room, turned my attention to an absolutely enormous bouquet of the most gorgeous flowers I have perhaps ever seen: Black-eyed Susans, crown vetch, lilies, tiny-purple-flowers-I-don’t-know-the-name-of, mini-cattail thingies, lush greenery, and more. In its generous vase, that bouquet measured about as tall as I am from my waist to the top of my faux-blonde head.
I was confused. What? How did —? Did they come from my aunt? That was nice of her, but… The peanut gallery flapped their arms and pointed and said, “Read the card! Read the card!”
Slowly, I turned back to the flowers and inspected. There, tied with a ribbon wrapped around the glass, a simple message on a small, white square of paper: “Happy Birthday, Mary — With Love, From Claus. xoxo.”
Me, I made a little squeak and blinked back the tears instantly springing to my eyeballs. I had a towel around my shoulders to dry my wet hair and I kind of pulled it up and over my head. I needed to hide for some reason. I still peeked out from the top of my head-towel burrito with big, wide eyes, scanning every petal.
“Claus sent me flowers?” I said, and a big, fat tear rolled down my cheek. I looked over at my family. My heart was like, foofing around, doing some sort of foofing maneuver.
“Nice guy,” Jack said, and went back to the newspaper. “I always liked Claus.”
“Rebecca helped him arrange it all,” Mom said. She kind of sing-songed it. “Flower delivery, on an island, on a Sunday morning. Not baaad.”
I looked back at the flowers. They just didn’t seem real at all. My sister Rebecca was at her laptop on the couch. I asked her if it was true, if she worked on this with Claus. She nodded and said, “Sure did.”
Later in the day, Claus and I skyped. We’ve been doing that a lot lately, video chatting across continents. It’s so hard to love a person so much and they’re not here and you remember the last time you saw them wasn’t so great but that person is great so then you think you’re nuts but then you just feel so sad when you’re in contact but have no semblance of any next step, exactly, except/and then you remember how this person is not perfect but then you remember you’re not, either, Mary Fons oh my good lord in heaven, and then you feel like throwing up your hands and then you just feel like throwing up and then you get flowers, on your birthday, across an ocean and a lake. And that person sent them.
There’s no florist shop on the Island. Claus and Rebecca worked with the lady who simply “does the flowers” up there. That means that all those perfect blooms and blossoms were culled from fields and gardens on Washington Island. They were all local. They were of — and in — the moment. Just like me. And Claus.
That’s the flower story.
*There’s even more birthday to come. Sophie, the World’s Best Birthday Celebrator, has plans for me on Friday. Zounds…!