"Happy birthday to you," the chorus of high-pitched voices sang as I blushed and stared at the chocolate, frosting-covered cake. To be perfectly honest, I never knew what to do with myself when people were singing to me.
"Happy birthday to you!" they continued.
I collected my long, wavy mahogany-colored hair and twisted it, confining it to my right hand. "Happy birthday dear Everleighhh… Happy birthday to youuu!"
"Ever, honey, look up for a sec," my mother requested anxiously holding her camera. I smiled in her direction, and just as she pushed the button I stuck my tongue out. She shook her head and frowned at me as I laughed.
I closed my eyes and puffed my cheeks as I inhaled, focusing on my wish. Then, I frantically moved to blow out all nineteen candles. Success! My friends cheered obnoxiously while my family members clapped and helped themselves to some cake.
I cut my own piece and licked the frosting off my finger.
"Everleigh, darling!" Grandma Marie exclaimed with open arms.
I immediately grinned as my favorite person in the world stood before me. Placing my plate on the table, I rushed to hug her.
"Huh-tut-tut," she snapped, "What's with this Grandma nonsense?"
I laughed, "Sorry, Auntie Marie." She hated anything that referred to old age. My grandma was set on staying young forever – hence her residing in Las Vegas. "I'm so glad you could make it."
"Of course I made it," she smirked, "I needed to get a good look at the lovely birthday girl," she said, stepping back to observe me. "My, my, you're positively stunning, baby girl. How are the boys treating you?"
"Well, there's this boy, Christian," I told her, "And he's absolutely perfect."
"I doubt he's good enough for you," she said, looking around. "So, where is this Christian character?"
"Well, he couldn't make it; he had a basketball game at the college."
"A boy who chooses a bunch of balls over a beautiful lady is no man for you," she frowned.
"It's fine, he's going to take me out to dinner when I get back," I told her.
"Damn straight," she huffed.
Have I mentioned how much I love this woman? She's always so straight forward.
She pulled out a small red handkerchief from her large, leather handbag as her chest spasmodically rose and she started coughing.
"Are you okay?" I asked worriedly.
"I'm fine, hun," she waved it off, quickly folding her handkerchief. She sounded tired.
I watched as she dug into her purse and removed a medium-sized present wrapped in lilac paper and handed it to me. I bit my lip as I tore it open, staring at the electronic device inside.
"I hear they're in these days," she commented.
I nodded, smiling and hugging her again. "Thank you so much, Gra–Marie."
"So I know you're always safe," she whispered, patting my back. "It'll take you places."
I nodded again, feeling strange as I stared at the plastic box again.
The Perfect Global Positioning Device
What did I need a GPS for? I carried it over to where the other unwrapped presents were and went to join my friends outside.
That was the last time I saw my Grandmother.
I'd never been to a funeral before. Not one that I remembered, much less for a person that meant everything to me. It's the final goodbye. And it hurts like hell.
I grabbed my sister Tinley's hand and squeezed. She returned with the same force as we walked up and placed out roses on top of the white marble coffin.
"I love you Grandma Marie," I whispered to myself as the harsh wind blew across my face. My tear-streaked cheeks grew cold against the breeze.
I stared blankly at rectangular whole as the coffin lowered. The grass was a yellowish-brown hue as it sat in the frozen earth. The trees were thin, bare and lifeless.
This place wasn't worthy – she deserved to be placed somewhere beautiful and bright and filled with warm colors. This cemetery was dead.
The four-letter D word sent the tears flowing like a river as my dad wrapped his arms around me and led me back to the car.