Sometimes my birthday celebrations extend for a couple of weeks as I connect with distant friends and family. Tonight I joined with my brother Kevin to celebrate my birthday, almost a week after the actual date.
As I've crept past the unforgiving milestone of 50 and become Kevin's guardian, birthday presents have taken on a new significance. This year, Vinny gave me a card that brought tears to my eyes because the card and the sentiment he wrote were perfect.
And tonight, I got another perfect gift - a dinner with Kevin. In between courses, we took pictures, which gave Kevin the opportunity to put his hands on my cheeks and say repeatedly, "I love you, Sissa." I taught him how to dip bananas in chocolate fondue and dabbed his chin as the inevitable dark brown rivulets oozed from the corners of his mouth.
From the solemnity of my father's death has sprung a blessing beyond measure - to have Kevin living thirty minutes away and to share chocolate fondue for my birthday.