The Garden Party
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I was sitting on a chair, head between my knees, trying to breathe, when Sophia came into the kitchen, wearing her pink party dress and click-clack shoes.
“Happy Birthday Party Day,” I said, and hugged her. “It will be an indoor party, even more fun!” Smiling, she ate her flower-shaped pancake. When I took Sophia into the garage, she gasped, her brown eyes wide, and looked from floor to ceiling. “The flowers are winking,” she shrieked, pointing to the bright yellow daisies.
I gathered her to my lap, her small shoulder blades peeking out from the back of the polka-dot sundress, and I wove her long hair—she had been born with so much hair—through my hands. I looked at the garage walls. “The walls are too drab,” I said. “Lets paint them.”
Sophia hopped off my lap and I pulled out the bin of acrylic paints meant for the party. I handed her a stash of paintbrushes. “Make whatever you want, my beautiful girl,” I said, pointing to the long gray wall. Sophia painted a series of flowers with smiley face centers. Above her flowers I painted a rainbow.
Sophia is in seventh grade now. We were looking through her school scrapbooks recently when she paused at the photo of herself blowing out candles at that long-ago garden party.
“You made a butterfly-shaped cake,” Sophia said. “Remember, we painted the garage?”
“Do you remember anything else?”
“There were so many kids, and you whacked the piñata open because it wouldn’t break—all of those girls, and we couldn’t smash it.”
“Anything else?” I wondered if she remembered that it was the first party we had after her father moved out.
“What do you remember?” she asked.
I remembered the rain cracking against the garage walls, and the loneliness, for myself and my children. But now, I also remembered the birdhouses dangling, the flowers winking, and how, when the piñata finally broke, candy fell and the small silk flowers inside fluttered to the floor around my girl, like lucky stars.