She meets me halfway as she hurries off to her break. I’m coming downstairs from a meeting during which I could hardly keep my eyes open. She’s pulling something from her Bag of Holding and hands it to me, “Happy belated birthday present. It’s to feed your addiction.” A Barnes & Noble gift card. I hadn’t expected a gift from her, especially one so late. But then, I’m hardly expecting any gifts for my birthday, belated or not. Her birthday, coincidentally enough, is the day after mine.

Last year, I purchased her a porg stuffie and Shaun made her a card he later opted to give to her. It was just as well, I didn’t know where we were headed, and still lack that particular road map. Better play it safe, right? This year, I gave her Queen’s Shadow. If you’re seeing a theme of my gift giving, you’re not wrong. She knows more about Star Wars (most things nerd, actually) than anyone I’ve known prior.

Friday marked Shaun’s 7th birthday, if you can believe it. My little one is becoming less and less a little one by the day. He’s grown a personality and he’s cultivating his own existence through strange childhood philosophies. More on that later. Maybe. We had his birthday party Saturday.

My grief clouded most of Friday and I figured it was best I didn’t go to work that day (I requested vacation months ago). It would be the first birthday without them and the absence on my birthday still weighed heavily. But I treated Shaun to froyo and bought him a copy of The Gruffalo for his birthday.

I asked her if she’d be interested in attending Shaun’s birthday party. Still not sure of anything. What’s with the uncertainty? She said yes. On Thursday, as we closed for the day, I asked if she was going to attend after all. Because, you know, uncertainty. Also because when I asked the first time, we didn’t know she’d be working most of Friday.

She arrived and I greeted her at the door. Shaun’s reaction was his usual over-the-top display of surprise and glee. Not sure where he gets that sort of melodrama from. There were moments of nervousness during the party. She’s met my family before. She’s spent time with me and Shaun. What she hasn’t done before was be exposed to the other side of me. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’m sure you understand it.

She stayed for all of the party and started wrapping up with us. She decided it was time to head home so I walked her to her car where we hugged and I asked her to text me when she got back to her apartment because, you know, uncertainty. As I turned to leave, she said, “We probably can’t start watching Sabrina next Saturday because I don’t know how crazy the day will be because I’m going to TLA. But we maybe the weekend after?” And shit, if I was’t more certain at that exact moment.