Happy birthday, my Stella.

With everything, there’s flavors. Stella likes chocolate.

My loss tastes like metal. Cold.

Stella is twelve years old, waiting for me on the curb, tapping her fingers on her watch. I promised her five dollars every time I was late picking her up from school. “Five bucks, please,” she says, holding out her hand. The next day, she’s twenty-one years old.

I’m excited for her. It took a lot to stand back from stomping on her taste without coloring it all the time. I stood out of her way, but she got in mine so I would grow up.

With my girls always as my barometer, I remember my own mother. One day, a month after graduating high school, my mother could no longer move. I was told, “Life is for the living.”

I heard, “Move on. Hurry up. Grow up.” I was seventeen.

Sunsets and the smell of freshly mowed grass take your breath away.

So does trauma.

My mom needed someone to take care of her from the time I went to college. I don’t remember her on my 21st birthday.

When Stella was a seedling, inspired by a life coaching session, I wrote a five-sentence parenting vision with my eye to the long arc of her destiny. Yesterday, for her college class, Stella had me fill out a survey gauging her leadership ability. She takes the worldview of situations.

Stella’s not here now. She’s in Boston, and I’m glad she’s celebrating her birthday with her friends. I didn’t get to go. I wasn’t invited.

I want her to be with her friends, feel like she belongs, take center stage, and receive the attention. I want her to feel certain, and I am feeling a little ambiguous.

It tastes like arugula.

When Stella’s in our house, the energy levitates.

“Look, Love, I can plug into my own energy now. I’m old enough to understand I’ll never understand. I wish I was 21 and still believed I knew everything.

Today, I want more than that.
And I need nothing.

This is my gift to you.”

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