I walked down the corridor with gift bags and a cup of coffee. Wife was right behind me carrying a small tray with a mug of hot chocolate and a candlelit cupcake. Dude almost carried himself. Fortunately we have walls that guide him in a straight line to where he has to go. I switched on the light and hidden between layers of duvets and blankets, she appeared with a gorgeous smile on her face.
“Happy birthday to you…” we sang awfully. It was six-o-clock in the morning and it was evident that our ability to carry a simple tune was still asleep.
The day arrived, like it does every year.
And every time it does, it feels like someone dumped me in a freezing lake to sober up. Fed me a shot of strong, black coffee in order to clear my head, chasing the fuzziness that lingers after a late night. But it’s only time bitch slapping me across the face. Again. Because no amount of denial will change the fact that Princess has another birthday.
She turned fourteen.
Sitting under her duvet, sipping hot beverages, I scanned the room and was somewhat startled by the changes. Subtle things. Stuffed toys packed away, making space for jewelry and scarfs and creams. Posters of One Direction removed from her mirror, replaced by slogans and pictures of friends in various pouting sequences. A little girl’s room invaded by the stuff of teenagers. We made small talk about her day and the freezing weather.
The smell of frying bacon drifted through the house, as the Wife called us for her specially made birthday breakfast. I didn’t want to get up from the bed because I didn’t want to leave that moment. I wanted to freeze time for a second so I could remember the details of my daughter’s face, capture the little girl’s excitement as she opened her presents and never forget that wondrous young woman’s smile as we woke her with a song.
I finally had enough courage to leave her room and when I got to the door, I turned around and smiled at a pair of sparkling blue eyes looking back at me. The same eyes that have been smiling back at us for fourteen years… In that moment I felt happy and sad and heartbroken and proud and ecstatic and scared; all at the same time.
I love her so much it’s painful in a way. Now if only I can get rid of this lump in my throat…
Anyway, Happy Birthday to the funniest, greatest, most beautiful, awesome, amazing, fantastic, best Princess in all the land!