It was ten o'clock on the night before the cake was due. Six hours had passed. Only another half hour to go. Finishing touches and placing the dump truck on top.
This is Rie, Shelby's mom. This story has to be told. Not for what happened, but for how it ended. Love unfolding as sweetness baked.
He only wanted to watch. Some kids, most probably, would have to stay away. They might put their fingers in the mix, or the icing. But he doesn't really like cake. And he is a good boy.
So he's standing up on a chair by the cake.
She only turned away for a second.
But in that second he could only just look at the button no longer. He had to know what that pretty purple button did.
I heard the fall and the scream at the same instant.
I turned from where I sat, less than an arms length from where the cake had been.
I moved to the floor beside her, taking her bone tired body, working since 6:00 that morning to come home and bake again, in my arms and said words that comfort failed.
That face I love. The one with eyebrows and eyelashes like mine. The narrow one with the high cheekbones and small mouth. I take that face into my hands and promised words I can't even remember.
It wasn't just any cake. It was to celebrate a year that eleven months ago we weren't sure baby nephew would ever see.
When the fear was that this day, which should bring first birthday joy, would only open wound that never heals. A fear now only a memory.
And here it was, one year later, joy undescribable. Thankfulness unending.
Happy Birthday, sweet Crosby.
The list was made and her daddy was on his way to the store before I went into the back room. Where I took his whole little boy body of my son into my arms. This little body choking out I so so sorry in sobs. This little body I womb grew and protected and cried forth.
I held on and fought the tears that I couldn't let come.
This is when a mama has to shine. When a mama must be unconditional.
When hand needs to be gentle and pain already felt in little heart is all the pain body needs. When gentleness must be chosen over harshness.
When she must be comfort and lighthouse and haven.When she must, without fail, show son more important than cake.
When she must fulfill a promise made when only hand touched and rested through flutters and then kicks and stomach large and whispered the first I love you.
All while my other love was trying to push back pain and hurt and do what adults with responsibilities do. What cousins who love great and celebrate life do. Keep going. Start over. Forgive.
Why are there days like this?
She only cried when she went to the front porch and called that young man she loves. The one with the red hair and gentle blue eyes and slight Cajun accent. The one Katrina brought us. The one who doesn't eat cake but loves a girl who lives cakes.
The one who has taken our place in so many ways. The way it should be.
The one who rushes over and whose presence brings comfort and laughter. The only one who could have done that on that night.
So all who love her start over with her while this little one . . .
heart broken moments before when sister went to him and held him and loved him and promised him all was forgiven and good, finally slept in what was comfort love peace - and safety.
And when all was quiet and the clock showed 3:00 am and light shown on just the two of us . . .
Mama, go to bed. I've got it. I won't be long.
I'll go to bed when you go to bed.
When you can do nothing but love - isn't love what you do?
Love and watch and stand guard over heart that once beat in rhythm with yours - and always will.
Why are there days like this? So love can show off.
He walked up to me at the table I was serving at and wanted to know if he could have one of the dolls. I asked him if he registered for one. He said no, but his baby is due next month and he wanted a doll for it.
He would be gone. Deployed along with my sister's boyfriend, Ruben.
I gave him the doll.
And I cried.
My heart goes into each cake I make. They bring me joy. But these served to soldiers and their families that I don't know but love anyway - it was special and it was an honor.
God bless and God speed, 112th Military Police Batallion and 113th Military Police Co.