Prelude

I was very high and sitting cross legged and looking through the campfire flames at my friends holding their beer bottles. One of their daughters, my goddaughter, was sitting cross legged beside me.

I spun my knife around the palm of my right hand and said, “Winter is Coming,” a reference to a popular HBO television show, “A Game of Thrones”, that we all enjoyed. My goddaughter laughed, and I continued.

“And we must know which card My Lady choose of her own free will and signed…” I said in my best Game of Thrones accent, a cross between medieval Europe and French Canadian, and I looked around at the kids encircling the campfire and eyed my goddaughter with one eye wide open and the other partially shut and said, “and the gods will guide my hand!”

I stopped spinning the knife and clasped it in my hand, blade pointed down, and exhaled loudly, “Ahhhh!!!!” and, still looking at the kids, thrust the knife onto the pile of playing cards spread face down upon a large wooden cutting board.

I relaxed, sat back, and exhaled. After a moment’s repose, I leaned forward and smiled and then reposed and tilted the cutting board. The unstabbed cards fell forward, and I and sat back and admired the knife, sunk deeply into the cutting board and still impaling just one card. Nothing was unusual, and nothing was amiss. All was good.

I breathed a few times while I took a moment to stare in each kid’s eyes and see how they were doing. They starred back. Some were aghast, others smiling and patiently, and all were awaiting the next act in a play we had played a few times before.

Satisfied, I yanked the knofe upward with my right hand, and sheathed the knife and graspsd the corner of the card with my left fingers and slowly tilted it towards the kids and several enthralled parents, and said, “And is this your signature and drawing?”

She and her friends looked at my left hand and the now face-up card with her name scribbled in Sharpie black ink in her handwriting, and beside it was her meticulously drawn smiley face with a unicorn beside it; and, below that, in my handwriting, after I had encouraged is to document this momentous occasion, March 14th, 2019, the day of the 36th annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in San Diego’s Balboa Park, I had scribbled the date and time, 2:20 PM, PCT.

They gasped and laughed and asked how I had done it, I told them I’d show them after the parade. The Irish Setters were walking by, 42 of them, guided by men dressed as Leprechauns and wearing kilts. None of them asked me about card tricks after the St. Patrick’s parade.

Later that night, after everyone had left and Hope was asleep, Cristi asked, “How are you?” She meant it deeply. She had been concerned. My last blood ancestor had died recently, and I had been grieving and sad and immersed in memories.

I rested my hand on hers and said I was good, but tired. It had been a long month. Wendy had only died five weeks before, and I had felt devastated. I had lost my best friend and mother, and I wasn’t okay, and that was okay.

“Everything will be fine,” I said. “I just need more time.”

We sat silently and watched the cloudless night sky move slowly across the trees of Balboa Park, and I felt lucky to be alive. And, as my goddaughter and her friends had played, I looked around my modest home with a small balcony overlooking a small courtyard across from Balboa Park and in America’s Finest City, and I felt, “How did I get so lucky?”

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