This past weekend my boyfriend Daniel and I went to the birthday party of his 3-year-old grandson, Jaxon. The party was held in a hall. I have been alive for a lot more than three years, and I have never had my birthday celebrated in a hall. Daniel kept calling it Jaxon’s “retirement party” and wondered aloud of he should give him a gold watch.
“Perhaps a set of golf clubs?” I suggested.
In the end, Daniel got him a bouncing ball that he could ride. When we arrived at the hall, Jaxon was far less surprised than I would have been to discover that everyone was dressed like a pirate. There was a pirate cake. Skull and crossbones flags were flying. The tables were decorated with gold-wrapped chocolate doubloons and costume pirate jewelry. There was a pirate pinata that all the kids took turns hitting with a stick until one of the older kids finally broke it and candy spilled all over the floor.
It was a pretty cool party, especially for someone who hadn’t even retired yet.
And, in the midst of all these pirates, I thought of how really strange this all was. Not the pirates with their foam rubber cutlasses and eye patches and hooked hands, but the stranger idea of being in the midst of a family of which I was really and truly not a part.
I never had children and, and the time of my divorce, I thought one of the few blessings was that it would not adversely affect any children. But here I was, in a rented hall festooned with pirates, celebrating the third wonderful year of life with a young man and his family— a family that had weathered divorce. The fact that I had nothing to do with the dissolution of their family was of no comfort whatsoever. Here I was, eating pirate cake, a visible reminder that they were not the same family anymore.
At least, I worried that is how I might see it, if I were them.
But I am not. Daniel’s daughters, who had orchestrated the whole shebang, were exceedingly cordial to me. They both thanked me for coming, asked how I was doing, and introduced me to the people I didn’t know— which was nearly everyone. I met Jaxon’s great grandfather, shared a joke with Daniel’s former father-in-law, and chatted (briefly) about the unseasonable weather with Daniel’s ex-wife. Lots of photos were taken and everyone had a wonderful time.
I was worrying about all the wrong things, as often happens.
These young people were not in the business of keeping score or waxing nostalgic about a family where their mother and father were sitting together as man and wife. The divorce was old news that had happened long before I appeared on the scene.
Today’s news was Jaxon and his birthday and the brand new baby Lily Jo, who was the smallest pirate of all. Today’s concern was whether enough coffee had been brewed in the hall’s kitchen and whether Jaxon had said “thank you” to everyone who brought a gift. The biggest worries today were why the stubborn pinata wouldn’t shatter and when (not if) the foam rubber cutlasses would be have to be confiscated from the small pirates in order to prevent the even smaller pirates from being beaten too severely.
When I left, Daniel’s daughter hugged me— twice.
Daniel and I drove away from the hall. I had a skull and crossbones ring on my finger and a heart full of pirate cheer.
Till next time,