Virginia’s 18th Birthday
My oldest turned 18
quietly and without fanfare.
She danced in her day
at an end-of-the-term waltz party
and celebrated with college friends
by inviting them to a tea party in her dorm room.
(She also served Boursin on snowflake Ritz crackers.)
She had a Facebook message and text message from me
but no snail mail. She called me and we chatted long;
me sitting in a cold car in the driveway.
On her Facebook wall she had 59
enthusiastic but remote
birthday well wishes. Mine said:
“We’re so glad you came to be with us 18 years ago!
You are such a blessing!”
(We are and she is.)
She flew home two days later
thankfully just missing 20 inches of snow
that closed her campus
and stranded friends of hers at the airport.
(She brought four suitcases mostly full of books.)
It was great to have her home
like a celebrity
that we cleaned the bathroom for.
She referred to her dorm as “home,”
and her sister remarked
that she must not live here anymore
because it feels like we have a guest in the house.
Less than an hour later she was off
with clamoring friends and no dinner
while we went to get our tree without her,
even though her brother had staunchly waited
for her to come home to do it with us.
The next day we thought we’d do
our traditional birthday dinner
with a bonfire of candles
toasts of sparkling cider
cut out in 1’s and 8’s…
but she didn’t want or need it.
She’s exhausted and half starved.
She’d just unpack
have some usual homespun food
(we have all her favorites in the house)
watch a video she’s seen before (Harry Potter) and relax.
I didn’t even take one single picture.
She thanked me for not needing to make a big deal.
(This from the girl that used to be the birthday queen?)
(She practically had to have a jamboree on her 13th birthday!)
She got fewer presents than she’s ever had
liking best the bluetooth from her aunt
which means that maybe
she can talk to us more often.
Usually we give an important gift
But this year it is college
or maybe adulthood and freedom.
Last night when she was in bed in the dark
I sang to her
what we affectionately call the Virginia prayer
which I made up and sang to her each night
as a baby and young child.
I hadn’t done it in a long time.
It starts, “Thank you God for Virginia…”
And it ends after an extensive list of specific gratitude
for all her great qualities and God’s blessings
on a long note of
“Thank you God for bringing Virginia to be with us…
We love her so o o o o.”