Birthday Wishes to Heaven

Ray Possen and Robin botie have birthday sushi at Mitsuba Restaurant in Ithaca, NY to celebrate the life of Marika WardenAt the last minute my daughter’s friend called to postpone our sushi dinner, the celebration of the third birthday since my daughter died. It didn’t bother me. It was actually typical of Marika’s birthdays. She used to make her birthday last a whole week.

But I was stuck. It was six on a Saturday night, not a good time to round up a friend or sit by myself in a crowded restaurant. So I decided to get a takeout and bring it home to eat by Marika’s life-size portrait, with candlelight, and her dog. Stepping into the car, I decided I would “listen” to Marika, do what she would do. For so many of her birthdays I had allowed her to lead me through shopping sprees at the Syracuse Mall, pond parties, … huge sushi platters.
“You can’t have sushi three nights in a row,” I’d laughed, knowing she could.
“But it’s my birthday,” she’d say with a silly pout. I couldn’t refuse a birthday wish. I was with her for every one of her birthdays and on those days she ruled.

Alone in the car on the evening she would have turned twenty-four, I headed for the sushi place where I would take her friend for dinner the following night. But suddenly I heard my daughter’s voice.
“Mom. Turn here. ZaZa’s!” There was barely time to check for traffic in the lane I crossed to turn into the parking lot.
“Did I ever take you here?” I wondered aloud as I parked.
“Mom, I love ZaZa’s.” So there we were. Before reading the menu, I knew we would walk out with the seafood stew and chocolate cake.

I knew that later my son would pour two glasses of scotch to toast Marika. I knew the next morning I’d hike with her dog in the trillium and trout lilies that herald in this season. I would blow bubbles into the wind and toss breadcrumbs to ducks on the pond. I’d light a candle and take her friend to the sushi restaurant the next day. And I knew Mothers’ Day would follow soon and I’d buy myself a gift “from her.”

What I didn’t know was how hard it would be still, to stand with her dog in the late night rain under a starless sky and sing happy birthday to her.

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14 thoughts on “Birthday Wishes to Heaven

  1. Tori de Clare

    Robin, I promised I would visit the blog and read about Marika’s birthday and I have. It was very moving. Time is such a strange thing. It passes and we can barely account for it. Three ‘birthdays since’ is not long, but soon it will be five then ten. Isn’t it wonderful that love is so lasting and powerful that it won’t matter how many ‘birthdays since’ there are? She will always be vibrant in your life because she will always be a part of it whether she’s physically here or not. Memories, dreams, thoughts and impressions keep a person ever present. I believe that our loved ones who’ve gone ahead, are closer than we think. Belated birthday and Mother’s Day wishes.

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    Beautiful, Robin. Those anniversaries keep rolling in and it’s amazing how much love and longing they bring with them. I’m glad you do all those good things for yourself, including singing Happy Birthday even when it hurts.
    With a big hug,


      yeah, Elaine. Can’t wait to see what I do for Mothers’ Day. The biggie.

  3. Annah Elizabeth

    Believe it or not, I’ve been to ZaZa’s! Marika has excellent culinary tastes. 🙂

    Standing in the rain, singing Happy Birthday to a starless night sky. Hard. Definitely hard…

    Maybe it was a little cleansing, too?

    My second son loves a good sushi…I’m always too chicken to try (afraid I won’t like something and the meal will go to waste), so I usually stick to the poultry… lol

    Maybe one day you (and Marika, for no doubt she’ll not be too far) can help me expand my palate!

    Happy Birthday, Day 4, Marika! 🙂

    A neighbor in grief and an ally in healing…


      Thanks Annah. There are so many different types of sushi you will definitely find at least one you like. I love trying to expand people’s palates. Cheers! neighbor.

  4. Kirsten Wasson

    What a wonderful tribute to Marika. And to your survival and strength, Robin.


      Thank you, Kirsten the greatest strongest survivor of us all. I’m too chicken to even visit LA for a weekend. Start a new life there? OMG my head hurts thinking about it.

  5. Angela Schmoll

    How we stumble through those days meant to celebrate the beginning of a life when the earthly life is over is one of the toughest things, and yet I think the dread and mental anguish before are actually worse sometimes than the date itself. Thank you for sharing. Tears and hugs.

    1. robinbot Post author

      Hi Angela. Welcome to my site and thank you so much for responding. You’re right. The worrying is worse. And it was miserable the past week, worrying about Mothers’ Day. The actual day went smoothly. Thanks to the sun. And my son. And good friends. I hope you had a good one. Cheers!

  6. Josie Barone

    Happy Birthday Marika. I do not know your daughter, but I feel I do know a bit of her through your posts. Today, I celebrate with you with smiles…and a lump in my throat from holding back the tears.

    I hope you have a blessed week celebrating her life.


      Thank you, Josie. It was definitely a blessed week. Now I’m looking at Mothers’ Day, always a questionable time. That’s when I REALLY need to be good to myself. Be kind to yourself too. Cheers!


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