Make a wish.
Family and friends circled me as I closed my eyes. All I saw was darkness. A black version of the white noise you see on TV when the cable’s out. Squinting harder did not help either. It just amplified the rush and anxiety. I couldn’t come up with a single birthday wish. My 29th. Nothing. I… I… I don’t know.
It wasn’t always like this. When I was five, I wished for a remote controlled toy car. I got a yellow truck with humongous wheels. On my 7th birthday, after watching Beethoven, I wished for a puppy. Within a couple of weeks, my mom brought home a cute white poodle. We named him Dudley, after Brendan Fraser’s character in Dudley Do-Right. Where is Brendan Fraser anyway? Dudley on the other hand passed when I was in high school. His face was bitten off by a large rat in our backyard. I didn’t see him before he was buried. Not that I didn’t care. I actually cried but I didn’t want to see him like that. I wanted to remember him the way he was.
As I grew older, my birthday wishes became a bit more complicated. On my 15th birthday, I wished for one of my many crushes to notice me. At 16, I wished to get in to a good university. Two years later, I wished to pass the dreaded Statistics subject everybody in my class, including myself, was failing.
I’ve always believed in birthday wishes. At least for me, they always came true. On my 21st birthday, I got really emotional when my parents didn’t get me a birthday cake that year. I needed a birthday wish for my thesis and graduation. Yes, I was that desperate. Wala namang mawawala, ‘di ba? So at 11:50 somethin’ PM, I got a Regent Cupkeyk, mocha-flavored, stuck an old birthday candle on top of it, lit it and made a wish. Spoiler alert: I graduated. I even got the award for most outstanding thesis. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s all irrelevant now anyway ’cause it was the last time any of my birthday wishes came true.
For the next couple of years, I dedicated my birthday wishes to sick loved ones. My wishes failed me. Sad. The magic of the law of attraction was no match to the reality of life. Death.
But it was when I was 24 or maybe 25 when I got slapped in the face by life’s biggest challenge. I won’t tell you the whole story (’cause you’d already know) but I did cry every day and night. For months. Wishing became not just a once a year thing. Every night, I cried myself to sleep. My soul was broken. And every night, I wished for everything to stop.
For years I’ve been wishing for the same thing. The crying has stopped but I know the wound is still there. I wanted to heal and be genuinely happy again. I wanted to believe again.
I wish I can believe again.
I blew the candles. All 29 of them.
And I opened my eyes…