Julian and Jeannette got so wrapped up in their conversation, they were out there half the night. They decided to get back to the party, but when Julian came back inside to say goodnight to everyone, he found that they had all gone home and his mother was cleaning up. “Can I help?”
“Absolutely not,” she said. “You’re the birthday boy!”
“Birthday boy,” he snorted. “That’s a good one.” He sat down at the table.
“For as long as I’m alive, you’ll always be my boy.”
He smiled at their strange predicament as she finished running around the kitchen. He never imagined that he and his mother would be facing the same challenges at the same time despite the fact that she still had many years on him.
“Oh,” he said and pulled out his phone. “Look!” He put the phone in her face.
Viviana’s face exuded pride and satisfaction at the pair, and she sighed. “Look at my baby…”
“I thought I was your baby,” Julian joked.
“You’re all my babies…and you’re all happy and healthy and in beautiful, satisfying relationships. I couldn’t be a happier mother!”
Julian didn’t feel it was his place to tell Viviana about Emerson and Alex and left it alone.
“We may as well eat these,” she said referring to the half eaten sandwiches that weren’t worth putting away. They ate in silence.
“Do you think I’ll live as long as you?”
“I think you’ll live as long as your dad did.”
“Do you think about…dying?”
She looked at him and smiled. “Every day.”
“Do you want to?”
“Julian…I’ve lived a very long time and have had a full, wonderful life. When death comes looking for me, I won’t be hiding from it. But, if it keeps deciding that my time hasn’t come, I won’t be upset.”
Up until that day, he dreaded the day when the Grim Reaper would return for her. That day will never be welcomed, but now that he was in his elder years, he felt differently about death. He found that death wasn’t something to fear or wish away. The Grim Reaper wasn’t the bad guy who came and stole your family members out of malice. Death was a part of life, and that’s just the way the cupcake crumbled. Death would eventually come for all of them, and the best thing they could do was be ready for it.
Viviana saw two last glasses of juice at the bar and decided to cheer her son up while teaching him a lesson–which thoroughly amused and pleased her that she could still teach him things. She took them both and gave one to him. She raised her glass and gave this toast…
“To life! May your life be full and your mind empty. Do everything you want to do, and say everything you want to say. When the Grim Reaper comes for you, I hope you’ll be able to say, ‘Nice to finally meet you,’ and not, ‘Oh, plum! You’re here?!'”
Julian laughed at his mother and knew she was right. “To life,” he shouted and drank his juice.