A Birthday Funeral

Bright Colors at Funeral

After my late night of dancing, I woke up early on the morning of my birthday to get dressed for my grandfather’s funeral. I chose my outfit carefully: bright colors – a celebration of his life – in formal attire to show my respect. I added a headband of delicate flowers in my hair. It would be a bittersweet day; a mingling of joy and sadness.

I left my apartment just as the sun started to peek above the horizon, piercing the darkness with warm, golden rays of sunlight. In the peacefulness of the early morning, I stopped by the still-quiet farmers’ market where I usually volunteer and picked up two almond croissants – one for my mom; one for me.

When I arrived at the funeral home, my nieces Lily and Wren jostled for positions in my lap. They both wanted to sit by me during the service, so I got to say goodbye to my grandpa flanked by the darling innocence of two of my favorite little girls in the entire world. I hadn’t realized how much joy it would bring me to spend my birthday with all of my extended family – especially with Lily and Wren. It was a surprisingly sweet birthday, snuggling with my nieces and later going for a walk with my cousin JJ.

The end of the day found me wrapped in a warm, fuzzy blanket in my pajamas, hair still wet from a hot shower. I’d just picked up a book to read when I was surprised by the sound of my phone ringing. I was even more surprised when I saw Seth‘s handsome face lighting up the screen of my cell phone, underscored by “Incoming call from Seth.”

“Hey, Seth,” I answered, tummy flip-flopping at the sound of his low voice.

“Hey! Happy Birthday!” I could hear his smile over the phone. “How was your day?”

We talked for a few minutes before Seth told me, “Hey, so I just left my sister’s house and am driving home now. I wondered if you wanted to get some ice cream for your birthday. I know it’s late – most ice cream shops are probably closed now – but I could stop by a grocery store and get us a couple of pints that we could eat together at your place if you like.”

I let myself feel a momentary thrill of happiness and excitement before I inwardly sighed and resolved to keep my commitment not to date through the end of Q1. There was still slightly more than a week left in March, and I wanted to finish strong. I’d hoped not to have the conversation with Seth over the phone. In truth, I hadn’t expected to have it at all; he’d surprised me with how soon he’d asked for one-on-one time. He struck me as a slower mover than that, but I was pleased by his interest.

“Wow, that sounds amazing,” I began, letting the sound of my happiness filter across the phone. “And I have lot of things to say in response to your offer,” I continued with a chuckle.

“To begin with, I’m so glad you called, and I love the idea of getting ice cream together for my birthday. That said, I’m currently in pajamas and fresh out of the shower with wet hair, so I’d need some time to get dressed before you came over. But more than that…” I paused, wondering how to proceed. “I hadn’t wanted to have this conversation over the phone, but since you’re asking, you should know that I have committed to fasting from dating through the end of March. I’d love to have you come over, but I don’t want to cop out right at the end here.”

Seth’s response was immediate and encouraging. “Well first of all, I think that’s great. I respect that you’re taking a break from dating. But secondly, I hadn’t viewed this as a date. When I ask you on a date, you’ll know it. I’m not that kind of guy who’s not man enough to actually ask a girl on a date. I’ve been using the words ‘hang out’ for a reason. At this point, I just want to get to know you, and if I eventually ask you on a date, you’ll know it.”

Oh. I was both impressed by his candor and a bit taken aback by the fact that I’d been mistaken as to his intentions. I loved that he was being intentional and clear in his communications, but a part of me also wished his offer of ice cream constituted a romantic overture.

I focused back on the phone conversation, where Seth was telling me that he’d wanted to get me a gift. “I’d thought about getting you a book from that series you mentioned you like, but I wasn’t sure which ones you’d already read. So then I was thinking about getting you concert tickets. Will you be in town April 17th?” A mutual favorite artist of ours was playing at a local venue, but I told him with sincere regret that I’d be out of the country on a business trip. But that’s something. He’s talking about getting us concert tickets together for a month in the future!

“Well, how about this then,” Seth proposed. “I won’t bring you ice cream tonight, but we’re both volunteering with the kids’ ministry tomorrow morning. How about I bring you birthday breakfast instead?” With a smile, I answered Seth’s questions about my favorite breakfast food, and the next morning, Seth showed up to church with a bag of kolaches still warm from the oven.

We settled together on the floor of the kids’ ministry, backs leaned against a wall and legs stretched out in front of us, grinning at each other like a couple of kids ourselves. Seth prayed for us before we dove into the breakfast bags, Seth handing me a sausage-and-cheese kolache before taking a spicy jalapeno one for himself.

“We’ve got to work on your tolerance for spicy food,” Seth teased me with a gentle nudge. My eyes sparkled as I looked back at him, wondering how in the world I’d gotten so lucky as to share a post-birthday breakfast with such a wonderful man.

Authentically Aurora

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MamaMorphosis

Yesterday on the drive home from work, I was thinking about all the things I’d have to change if I were a mommy.

traffic-glee

While driving in rush hour traffic, I could not scream at the top of my lungs things like, “PEOPLE ARE SO DUMB! I HATE EVERYONE!!!” I would have to learn to use my inside voice. And by that, I mean my inside-the-head voice.

 

Cookie Binge

After a long day of work, I wouldn’t be able to wallow by baking cookies and eating them fresh from the oven while binge watching Netflix. I’d have to cook real food like green beans and chicken. And then serve said real food to children and help with homework and things.

 

Unikitty transformation

I wouldn’t be able to wear my Grumpy Cat shirts around the house – shirts that say things like, “NO” and “I didn’t choose the grumpy life; the grumpy life chose me.” I know this because my niece Lily saw my Grumpy Cat shirt once, looked very upset, and asked me in a trembly voice, “Auntie Aurora, why is your kitty so angry?” At that time, I realized I would have to start buying Unikitty shirts instead. At least then my inner rage could be masked by a sparkly pink and fictitiously cheerful exterior.

 

Eating Cookies

And then, as I was parking in my garage, I realized that even if I never find a man who is willing to commit to marry me and subsequently impregnate me, I probably should still change these behaviors. Even if I never morph into momminess. Which sounds like nom-iness. Like nom, nom, nom… cookies…  mmm, forget that whole #adulting thing. After all, there are freshly baked cookies at stake!

Authentically Aurora

Breathing Life into Little Piggies

Little Girl Painted ToesMy nieces, “The Adorables”, love to have their nails painted. At ages 2 and 4, they are not yet allowed to paint their own nails, but they love to sit like little princesses and be pampered while Auntie Aurora applies (usually glitter) nail polish to their delicate fingers and toes.

Over Christmas break, I removed chipping red nail polish from my own toes the day before I saw The Adorables in preparation for our nail painting time together. The next day when I pulled off my socks and shoes, Lily (who turns 3 this month) gasped and pointed at my feet.

“Auntie Aurora,” she began in her little voice, “What happened to your toes?”

I laughed and smiled at her as I explained, “I took off my nail polish!”

My feet are pretty calloused from running and years of soccer, so I rarely go without nail polish. On top of that, I have poor circulation in my extremities, so my hands and feet tend to get cold easily, and my nails turn purplish-blue as they become mildly cyanotic.

Lily’s brow stayed furrowed in concern as she gently touched the big toe of my left foot. “Are your toes not breathing?”

My eyes widened in astonishment as I realized that Lily was referring to the blue hue of my toe nails. They turn blue due to lack of oxygenation, so my little 2-year-old niece was right. “That’s right, Lily! My toes are blue because they are not breathing.”

My sister-in-law is a nurse, so I thought she must have had a conversation with Lily about oxygenation, but when I asked my sister, she was as astonished as I was! Lily figured this out all on her own. Displaying greater understanding than most adults. Because she’s precocious.

Who is this child?! Oh yeah. She’s related to me. Precocious runs in the family. 😉

Authentically Aurora

The Silly Goose

niecesOver Christmas, I got to spend a lot of quality time with my two adorable nieces (lovingly nicknamed “The Adorables”). The four-year-old, Wren, is quiet and shy, whereas her two-year-old sister, Lily, is such a fireball that I think of her as my little Tiger Lily.

Lily is a brilliant child. Several months ago as I carried her through the house, she turned her big, beautiful eyes upward to the eight-sided mahogany beadboard ceiling of our family dining room. Pointing a tiny finger skyward, she declared with enthusiasm, “Octagon!”

Another time, carrying her through a parking lot of an airport, Lily pointed over my shoulder to a signpost and read aloud, “No Parking Anytime!” I looked at her furrowed brow, glanced at the sign and did a double-take. With perfect articulation, she had read the parking sign. She is two!

But, brilliant as she is, Lily is definitely still a two-year-old. On Christmas Eve, Wren and Lily both wanted Auntie Aurora to play Duck Duck Goose with them. So we all sat on the floor together, taking turns bopping each other on the head and running around the circle back to our seat before the “goose” could catch us.

When it was my turn to be “it”, I walked slowly around the circle, gently tapping Wren on the head; then Lily; then Wren; then Lily. “Duck… duck… duck… duck…”

Suddenly, Lily squealed in anticipation, “Goose me, Auntie Aurora! Goose me!!!”

There was a stunned silence in the room before all of the adults started guffawing, tears streaming down their faces in laughter. But Lily just beamed with delight as I tapped her on the head and declared her, officially, the “goose.”

Authentically Aurora