My mom’s 56th birthday

It’s unfair that my mom is not turning 56 today. It’s stupid and sad and dumb. I hate that she will never be more than 54. She would have been really good at being old– the coolest, most kickass, cowgirl boot wearing old lady on the planet.

I don’t really know what else to say about it, but here I am drinking a big latte (“Give me the biggest latte you have,” is how my mom often ordered at coffee shops) and I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of the day. I will probably do some drawing. Maybe see a movie. Have a really good dinner.

My mom was really good at birthdays. In our family we have the tradition of waking up the birthday person really early by singing happy birthday and bringing them breakfast in bed. I used to lie awake on my birthday morning, pretending to still be asleep, listening for that soft singing coming from down the hall..

Mama’s favorite breakfast was bacon (extra crispy), orange juice, and coffee.

My sister was born three days after my mom’s birthday in 1987. I was two and have vague shadow memories of the day which could just be impressions left by people telling me the story so many times. But I was there, running around the hospital room in my pink converse sneakers, holding the doll they gave me (Linda Lou) so that I had a baby too. “Mommy, let’s leave our babies here and go home now,” I have been reported as saying. Mama always called Phoebe the best birthday present she ever got.

I wish I could take my sister out for wine and chocolate today. I wish we could play cards and laugh and cry together and listen to the mountain sounds and watch our mom paint the sunset. But since we’re on opposite sides of the world right now, I’ll reach my arms out and we’ll hold the whole world and Mama will be the sky and all the people that love her will be part of it and we’ll all eat green chile and homemade tortillas and sing Long Black Veil. We’ll ask, “Do you want to have something or do something,” and she’ll reply “do something” so we’ll go to the movies or climb a mountain and dance all night drinking red wine (dry and cheap) or tequila (never waste good tequila) wearing skeleton dresses and long earrings and cowgirl boots (of course). We’ll wear straw hats and paint outside (en plein air). We’ll pop popcorn and each have our own bowls and paint our toenails and watch the Alice Neel documentary.

We’ll keep living and keep having birthdays and it’ll never be as good without her but we go on anyway. We’ll do the things we love. We’ll make our lives what we want them to be and use our own brains.

I love you Mama. Happy birthday.

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sometimes, a girl’s best friend is her cat

My cat, Henry, died yesterday. He was six years old, and seemed totally fine, happy, nothing out of the ordinary until he was found dead in the backyard by my dad. I don’t know how he died, and it’s a shock to my system that he’s so completely gone.

Henry was there for me during the most difficult times in my life so far: the death of one of my best friends, a depression, confusion about my life, leaving my long-term live-in boyfriend in Brooklyn and moving back to Vermont to live with my parents, my mom getting sick again and then dying, living for the last fifteen months without my mom. When I didn’t know how to explain myself, my feelings, Henry was there and I didn’t have to say anything. He’d look at me and blink his big golden eyes. I’d blink back. He’d blink again. He’d lie on my stomach, his considerable weight a comfort, his gentle little head rubbing my chin.

I cried all morning, his death washing over me again and again. Then I went to work. After work, all I wanted to do was decorate this pair of white Keds I’d bought. So that’s what I did while eating half a bag of chili lime chips:

sneakers

Today I’m going to wear these sneakers. And I’m going to work on a comic about Henry and later I’m going to see a play with my sister Phoebe and my friend Janet.

Thanks for choosing me, Henry. I’m so glad I got to share your life and be your person.

Henry the cat, 2008~2014

me and henryme and henry 2