God gets ironic. And reminds us all - he knows us a little too well.
So I don't want to talk about my birthday because I'm annoyed. I'm annoyed that I spent the entire weekend on the couch chugging cough syrup and Tylenol and tea and praying for the fever to break. Because I didn't spend a single day with any of my friends. Because my father found a way to...do what he does... leaving me in tears, trying to breathe through the mucus and Rachel holding my hand telling me not to cry. Because if plans had not been cancelled, I would not have been able to taste the wine at the wine tasting anyway. Because my birthday is cursed.
Because I said over and over, I didn't care about all my friends getting together, it wasn't necessary - when really - it was all I wanted.
...And then the flu.
God may have gotten ironic on me. But it's my party - and I'll whine if I want to.
Still...on the couch, trying hard to get comfortable...sweating under my mink blanket and fever, I looked across the room. Leaning against the chaise, what is probably the best present I have ever gotten. A framed print of my grandfather's. A gift from my grandmother. Done in 1976, matted and in the only frame from an old show my grandfather had in New York City.
"It was his favorite place in Tel Aviv," my grandmother said. "A coffee shop."
I would fight against the cold, carrying my presents up to the apartment. Part of me didn't want to go inside. Didn't want to be alone. I put the print there so I could see it from the couch. I stared at it a long while. I wanted to taste the Mediterranean air, hear the sound of the Tel Aviv streets. Drink the coffee. Walk where he'd been. See what he painted.
I called Rachel and told her about the gift. She began to cry. "Oh Jessica," she said. "You got a piece of him."
I did. At least that.