I wake to the insistent buzzing of an alarm with a groanand turn over searching for the source. I peer at my phone in confusion for a second as I try to figure out what day it is. Friday, October 24. It takes another second to few remember why this date seemed important through my sleepy haze. Oh right, it’s my birthday. The realization comes with memories of something I heard every morning on my birthday that I would be missing today.
Estas son las ma̱anitas que cantaba el rey David.
If it was up to my mom, this tune would be the first thing I woke to every year. She would come in to my room singing before school and even when she could not be there to wake me, she would leave a voicemail with the song. I laid in bed for a minute or two thinking about my mom before rolling out of bed to put together breakfast and get ready for work. The house was quiet besides the farm sounds I had gotten used to: the dogs playing outside and chickens calling to each other very once in a while.
I start looking through the cabinets for something to prepare and almost drop the pan in my hand when I hear my sister call out from her room, “Bri!!”
I push back the curtains to enter her room and hesitate at the doorway wondering if I actually heard her call. Gabi was laying in her bed with her eyes closed, still as a stone. I was ready to walk out when she said, eyes still closed, “Come keep me company I feel sick” And pats the bed beside her. I sit on the edge of the bed and she starts to sit up in bed. Suddenly she hugs me and says “Happy Birthday!” And pulls off one of the bracelets she’s always wearing. “I don’t have present money so here, I want you to have this.”
She looked at me like she thought I would reject the present but I could not stop smiling as I put on the bracelet. I had not realized how lonely I had been until that moment. My birthday was not a day surrounded by friends and family like I was used to but in that moment, my sister was both the friend and family I needed. As the day went on, I received messages from the cohort and community members, doing away with the last bits of loneliness I was feeling. Soon my sister was feeling better and she found someone to take us into the city so she could show me around. We spent the entire day together and the biggest gift I received that day was the close bond we formed.