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Yesterday was September 10th.

The first time I can remember this date meaning anything to me was way back in the 1990s. I was working for a woman whose son was my same age. She gave me a job and we became fast friends. It was odd, given that she was a mother of a teenager and I was a teenager. But there we were. Laughing, sharing crises, working in harmony, and understanding one another with just a glance.

September 10th was her birthday.

On another September 10th a few years later, she turned 40. I felt insecure being the only person (well!) under age 35 at a small, intimate dinner party taking place in a stunning home located in the foothills of Camelback Mountain. The neighborhood was so upscale, I was teased by the dinner guests when they found out I had locked my car doors when I parked in the huge driveway. I ate fancy food, drank wine, cracked jokes, and played a board game. Though I was certainly a strange person to be found at such a scene, she loved me so much that she insisted I be on the very small invite list. Everyone knew she loved me and they welcomed my awkward, stumbling social “skills” because of it.

On a September 10th in the early 2000’s we worked a critically busy day at the salon. When I arrived for my shift (probably hungover), there were balloons, treats, flowers and a card at her station. These were left from another team member. I glanced at that scene and shrunk with guilt because I had forgotten this September 10th.

She never said a word about it. Because she loved me so much.

Fast forward to the next memorable September 10th when we celebrated with a huge party that I proudly helped coordinate. Friends and family, dressed in their best outfits, surprised her and we all flooded the upstairs space at Hanny’s. With our own bartender and DJ, we toasted the birthday girl, laughed, danced, and ate extra cupcakes. At the end of the night, I was with her in her home…just us, her sister, and my new husband. We shared stories and laughed some more.

At the end of the night, she couldn’t stop telling me how much she loved me.

Just a couple years later, I spent September 10th rushing from birth center to hospital to surgery to recovery room. My first and (what would turn out to be) only baby was born. I typed out a text message to my dear friend of so many years, claiming that my little girl was my birthday present to her. This present had spiky brown hair and navy blue eyes. I was never able to click the send button because as soon as I would pick up my phone (which was swiftly running out of battery life), a nurse, doctor, janitor, or visitor would burst into my hospital room.

She didn’t learn about this birthday present until days later.

Yesterday was September 10th. My daughter is six. And my friend still loves me.

Happy birthday to my friend, Lauren Hart.

I love you. So much.

Blog by Lilia

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