I used to teach at a school that had a fairly active, and competitive “sunshine club”. They sent me 4 bouquets and at least 10 cards when I was out for 3 months with knee surgery….It had a birthday component. Some complicated sort of rotation that had us making or baking cakes for people’s birthdays. You didnt bake enough for the whole school, just for your little “clique”. So, way back several years ago it was my turn to bake for our phys. ed teacher, Sue. I’m pretty sure it was peanut butter and chocolate, but that memory may be wrong. The rest of it though is clear as yesterday.
The halls were electric. Noise, kids, parents, admin. on the intercom. Everyone was heading the same direction, towards the front door, but in little bursts. I was up by the nurses office, monitoring who was leaving, who needed to pick up their meds, who was having an asthma attack. Sue was about 30 feet down the hall — dressed up. In that dress that she always wore on Parent night, or special days — like her birthday. Over the hum of “its ok, it’ll be ok. We are ok.” I heard — loudly– “Hey Cindy? Wheres my Cake?”
It was noon on 9/11/01 and my girl Sue was looking for that birthday cake.
I read this morning that she had died. 62 years old. Alzheimers. And the first thing that came to my mind was her in that hall, looking for that damn cake. And I smiled. Because, for all her human imperfections, Sue knew that life would go on. She knew that there would be a tomorrow and that you had to keep your head about you and move forward. And, you damn well better eat cake while you had the chance. Rest well Sue.