My life is full of small shining moments, glimmering threads sewn into the fabric of each day. They happen all the time: catching sight of a full moon overhead; lingering over tea with friends; sinking into a good book. Alone, they might not seem significant, but together, they provide solid proof of life’s goodness, of the everyday magic that surrounds me.
But there are moments, and there are Moments. Moments when planning + intention + luck slide magically into place and everything is right with the world, if only for a few shimmering seconds. Such are the moments that make up the Highlight Reel.
The Highlight Reel is what I draw from when grim reality begins to cloud my vision, when all I can see is lack and loss. It spins like a slow-moving carousel, filled with slow-mo shots of golden light, triumphant eyes, exultant smiles. It's my happy place.
In July, I had not one but two moments for the Reel.
They both happened on the occasion of my mother’s 60th birthday. Prior to the big day, my sisters and I talked for months about how to commemorate this special occasion. What would bring our mother the most happiness? We gently probed her for suggestions, and came away with a few guidelines: no big party. No la-dee-da.
Finally, we decided upon this: all of us girls, her daughters (there are six of us) would whisk her away to her favorite place, Canon Beach, where we would spend the day. We would also invite her sister, our aunt, to join us. I would fly up from San Francisco; youngest sister would fly up from Austin, baby in tow, and we’d spend the day showering our mother with love. And we wouldn't tell her beforehand; we'd make it a secret.
It wasn’t a showy plan, and there was much debate among us as to whether it was enough, but we stuck to it. Our aunt arranged to spend the day with our mother, thereby guaranteeing that her day would be free. I flew in the night before, as did little sister, whose plane was delayed twice, and who finally straggled into PDX after midnight carrying one exhausted infant.
On the morning of our mother's birthday, we sisters met about a mile from the farm so that we could drive down the hill, caravan-style, for the surprise. Each of us had called her earlier that morning, telling her in our own ways that we wished we could spend the day with her, but that one thing or another had prevented it. “How’s the weather in San Francisco?” she asked me. “Cool and foggy as always,” I replied, looking out on a sunny Portland sky.