In reality, it's warm for December. Even by south Georgia standards. My feet are bare on the deck and I'm watching the leaves drift into the yard while my coffee cools and I try to get a handle on the number of years passed. Twenty seven. More than half my life. For twenty seven years I've been her mother.
This year has been a hard one, full of dread and endings and uncertainty as I've rolled the number 7 over and over in my head. Seven years since she died. Seven year itch. Seven years and all the skin on my body that knew her touch is gone. Seven years of watching my hair curl while it greys and knowing I look like a person she never saw. Seven years and surprised to know how deeply I can still hurt.
This year has been a good one, too. And that's been the most surprising thing of all. Beginning to look forward and to move forward and beginning to know that life still holds surprises and gifts. Welcoming new beginnings, fresh starts, and finding love in the eyes of an old friend. As I move into the season of eights - eighth birthday with no cake, eighth Solstice with no dancing, eighth Christmas with no shrieks of laughter - I am reminded that eight was her favorite number. And I can still hear her voice, excited and sweet and forever convinced that the best of things was just about to happen:
"If you turn Eight on its side, Maija, it turns into infinity. Eight is magic in a way that Seven can never be. Eight can last forever. "
Today, there will definitely be cake.