I think it was my fourth or fifth birthday…I can’t remember which. I only know that I lived in Wooster, Oh, and that’s how I gauge my existence…by the house I lived in at the time. My mom told me to take a nap, that I could sleep in her and my dad’s bed, and when I woke up it would be my birthday party. The next thing I remember is my mom’s cousin Connie waking me up from my nap and I asked her if it was time for my party. Indeed, it was.

My mom was in the kitchen icing my birthday cake, and it’s so weird how memory works, but I just remember looking up at her hands decorating my cake as I walked by the kitchen doorway; a flash of a perfect moment that is perhaps part of the reason that food and family go so well together in my mind. She was making my birthday cake because she loved me, and all the people in the house were there because they loved me and they loved my parents. And there was always so much love. And food.

My mom says on the day I was born, everyone was doing shots and dancing Serbian kolos in the waiting room, a celebration of life. The hospital staff thought they were all nuts, and my mom just smiled and said, “that’s my family”.

Saturday was my birthday, and I had the honor of standing in Kelly’s wedding. It was truly a celebration of life. I loved being able to share in my friend’s joy, and I was touched at how on her most important day, she took the time to remember my birthday. She’s someone who was there for that birthday in Wooster, oh and is still in my life today. Thank you, Kelly. I am truly blessed with amazing friends.

I wonder sometimes if I am as good to the people I love as they are to me. I hope that I am, because I am so grateful.