Once again I can't find words. Today my sweet Shannon would turn 38. It has been fifteen years since we were able to celebrate together and just the thought of that takes my breath away.
At first glance she is nowhere to be found. Her bed is made, her bathroom clean, her music silent. The house is quiet except for the hum of the drier and the faint sound of tires on wet pavement on Harrison Road.
Then the whispers. A photo of Shannon looking straight into the camera, with her tongue stuck out demands my attention and I can't help but smile. The rain is ending and the sunlight, soft yellow on the bark of the willow oak eases through the window and onto the art table. The pewter mug she brought to me from her trip to Maine, the dragonfly bookmark, Van Gogh's Starry Night, the photo of her first drive in the maroon GTO that her Dad and his friends restored for her, the collage that fills one wall in my office...bright green Barrel of Monkeys, movie tickets, Girl Scout badges, the white rosary blessed by the Pope that Maw Maw gave her, a Barney Rubble night light, a cassette tape, a Diet Coke can, matchbook from Arbuckle's, her first driver's licence, a yellow Match Box car, a guitar pick and a piece of linoleum from the kitchen floor that flooded the year we went to the Grand Canyon.
In one simple second of expanded awareness, I realize that she is everywhere.
At one corner of the collage there is a small silver bobbin. Flowing through the entire piece, a single thread of multicolored yarn that eventually coils around another small silver bobbin.
She would be amazed that I could take a photo with my phone, send it through the ethers and have it arrive on my computer in seconds... to share. Perhaps the message is obvious in its subtlety. We are the moments that we notice. Our lives are a collage of what we hold most dear.
Thirty eight years ago I was given a gift beyond measure.
I am, because she chose to be my child, my friend, my teacher, my miracle. I am breathing because of the friends she brought into my life.
Birthdays used to be cake and balloons and presents. We celebrated in traditional ways. But when someone you love is beyond reach, beyond phone calls or birthday cards, or UPS... you impose on your friends to share in the non traditional.
Today I will put new photos in the Angel Tree. I will have cake. I will hold my memories close and appreciate every second of the twenty three years we shared. I will marvel at the 15 years we have continued to share and the incredible ways she has found to let me know that she is still there.
Thank you for loving Shannon with me. Thank you for the extra smiles you will share today because you know an Angel. Thank you for noticing the subtle moments that are creating the collage that will one day be your treasure. Thank you for being the messengers of my Angel when my heart was too tired to see.
Happy Birthday my Sweet Angel. I love you with all that I am.