Today is April 16th, the birthday of my Eternal’s mother, the heart of our family. It is to be, soon, two years hence the day she was called home to Goddess. I was going to write something very sad this week, something that tells, as poorly as it would be, how much she’s missed, what it’s like for my Eternal. But I have written a lot of sad things since then, I’ve been looking for better things to write and, in all honesty, there comes a time when there’s more to life than …
The morning dawned across the Realm with the coming of the sun over the waters of the Lake. Her Son was there to greet the day, a promise to himself that he’d made since his mother had been called home to Goddess. It was, perhaps, a way to mourn that gave a means for his emotions to be calmed—on this day most of all.
He’d promised that he would be better in time, that things would be better. That promise was made in hope, or perhaps in some expectation that the pain couldn’t go on forever. A year ago, the first birthday since … things happened … was one of reflection, of thinking about her, of wishing for the chance to say things not said, to share secrets not revealed, to keep promises and hopes unfulfilled.
The waves turned orange as the sun rose higher in the sky, not really so much to warm him—it was,
after all, not quite yet spring in the Realm. The tea helped some to soothe the cold in his fingers, the shiver that passed through him in the morning dew that began to be burned away as the morning … and mourning … continued.
He was thinking about the last birthday they’d shared, the card given, the smile she’d had even if she’d been so dearly tired; sad memories that only served to bring tears to his eyes and bring rise to the shudder as he took a breath. He hadn’t heard the footsteps or realized that he had a companion, but the voice took him out of his memories back into the here and now.
Looking up, he found someone there he hadn’t expected. To all in the Realm she was known as The Receptionist; to all, save for two. He was one of them.
“Hello, Simone. Nice morning, isn’t it?”
She looked across the Lake and mused: “Morning, yes … But this isn’t a good day to be mourning.”
He allowed himself a small, thin smile: “Feels like it is.”
Regarding him through silver thin-framed glasses, she sighed.
The tea went down a little harshly at that sigh. Simone was Tera’s aunt, not his. He’d lost both of his aunts years before. Perhaps that’s why it mattered to him what she thought about things. Tera had her Uncle, their evening chats about hockey and all. Simone didn’t find the connection with Tera after her sister passed on, deciding that being the Receptionist to a young Queen was more important than being her aunt.
It had been different for him with Simone. Somehow she’d latched onto him, or he onto her—whichever was correct really didn’t matter. Seeing the real red tail underneath the all-business persona always struck him as to how much like Tera she was. She’d never allowed him to call her “Aunt”, however; she’d made that very clear from the beginning. In public she was The Receptionist, but, when they were sharing a moment together, the real red tail came out to play.
“Simone …” His thoughts were interrupted by the tall raven-haired red tail settling in beside him, her tail moving around his waist before she placed her head on his shoulder: “When my sister passed away, I mourned her. I still do.” He wanted to tell her that it wasn’t the same, that the hurt was so much worse, but bit his tongue on the reply as she continued: “I’ll think about her at the oddest times. Something will jar a memory loose and … it hurts.”
A memory skated past, a flash of time spent with his mom in the kitchen, learning to make French Toast, of all things. That brought the realization that he’d not made that since she’d become ill, not even thought about doing so until this moment.
His companion of the morning asked: “What are you thinking about?”
The tears weren’t too bad in his admission: “Been a long time since I’ve done something.”
“I … don’t know.”
“Not really a good reason, is it?”
“No … it isn’t.”
They fell silent for a time, as the sun rose higher into the morning and as the son continued through his mourning.
“Do you want to?”
“What’s stopping you?”
He didn’t answer that question, watching the surf roll over the beach with her. When does the mourning end? There’s a limit to the morning, after all. Didn’t there have to be a point where the mourning gave way to something else, whatever that was?
“Today’s her birthday.”
“Yes, I know.”
“I wish she was here.”
Closing his eyes, he found himself watching his mom mixing up the batter, cutting the bread, dipping the bread into the mix before laying it on the skillet. Being shown when the browning of the bread was right, how to flip them over. Cutting up the strawberries; mixing up the whipping cream. Rediwhip had its place, but not on Mom’s French Toast. She never would have accepted that.
Another memory floated by, that of a new young King trying to impress a certain Receptionist one morning by bringing her French Toast to start her day. He remembered her smile, the compliment she’d given at his skill, and how much she appeared to enjoy his efforts. He recalled many a morning when she’d come by and shared breakfast with him, always French Toast, before going off to the Palace to help Tera. He also remembered that he hadn’t done so since mom had passed on. Many mornings spent mourning, and he felt ashamed of that.
“So … Aunt Simone …”
The tip of her tail tapped his side: “Oh I’m “Aunt Simone” now, am I?”
He hadn’t turned away from the rising sun: “Actually, you’re “Auntie Simone,” as I recall.”
Simone didn’t say anything. The hug was enough to remind him that she’d started to make amends with Tera once more.
“You think the stores are open by now?”
“I think it would be nice to make French Toast. She always liked that on her birthday.”
The red-tail seemed pleased at his thought: “Her son, so I understand, is excellent at that.”
He smiled: “I have a very good teacher.”
She teased him, the first time in ages: “I’m sure we can find some whipping cream.”
The laughter in that thought made the moment change. The mourning hadn’t completely been transformed—there was still a long way to go—but the smallest step began with the simplest things. Sharing something loved and cherished with one who understood mattered.