July 31, 2008
By Jessie Zhu, Caldwell, NJ

You remembered the hospital you were born in.

Although--everything else was vague. Perhaps there had been parties and magnificent cakes. Perhaps you made wishes and it never occurred to you that they may not come true at all.

What would you wish for?

Money? Power?
To be strong enough to hold back your tears?
That nobody would notice when you couldn't?

Death made you cry. The same day nine years ago, you looked on, terrified, as the van coming from the left sent her sprawling into your lap. The beige leather seat turned red.

You couldn’t remember if there’d been more parties from that point on. Or if they were replaced by mourning. But if you still had the cake and candles, would you have wished for mom to come back?

Because you are so precious. And then you began to get into trouble, because if you make her worry, then she will come back and scold you like she used to.

She didn’t. And then everything spiraled down.

Thirteen years old. You remembered the bar. and your friends enveloped in cigarette smoke. You stared breezily across the bar, and suddenly met dad's livid green eyes.

Then you were fourteen. But nobody cared.

Fifteen, you stood still as the front door slammed shut behind you.

And you silently walked the riverbed, your shadow stretched as time. But they say it passes in a blink. Days, months, years. The clock ticked on and you try to suppress everything to the back of your mind, the hospital, the blood, the parties, the smoke.

Then you looked down at the cake. Another year. Another year. Another year.

And you could still glance back and see the boy that sat with his shadow beside the river.

Back, back. How do you walk forward?

And then everything met at a converging point. And perhaps it had occurred to you that things would have been better if you had never been born. Then there wouldn’t be the cakes and presents, she wouldn’t be driving you to the parties, and she wouldn’t have--couldn’t have--died.

But when you came into this world, it never occurred to you the things you would face and the pain you would have to walk through-- because that moment-- that exact moment, was such a beautiful miracle.

And across the eighteen candles, I smile at you and you smile back as the world quietly faded away.

Another year older. And despite everything, you're still here.

So happy birthday, love.

It's so wonderful that you were born.

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