Abigail Hyatt was almost seven and her daddy let her choose where to have her birthday party. It had been a sad winter and a party was a good idea.
‘Can we have it at the park, Daddy?’ Abigail asked.
‘Which park, Abigail?’
‘The big one, Daddy— the one Mummy loved. You know… the one where we threw the rose petals after her funeral.’
‘If that’s where you want it, then that’s where we shall have it.’ Daddy kissed the tip of her nose.
Abigail smiled. ‘I’ll help with the invitations but we have to invite Grandpa and Grandma Lawson. Do you think they’ll come, Daddy?’
‘You can ask them. They would like that.’
Her smile faded. “I wish they didn’t live so far away. Do you think Grandpa and Grandma miss Mummy, too?”
‘I’m sure they do. I would miss you, my darling daughter, if you had died. Now, let’s not be sad. Mummy would want us to enjoy your party.’
‘I want to wear the party dress Mummy bought me last year.’
‘Abigail, honey, I don’t think it will fit. You have grown so tall. Why don’t we go to the mall tomorrow after school and see what we can find?’
Finaly the party day arrived. It was a sunny day and the park had lots of spring flowers growing in the gardens. Abigail could see her grandparents at the end of the short path that led to the playground. They were tying balloons on swings and trees. There were two picnic tables. One had lots of party food on it and the other held a huge birthday cake with pink icing.
‘Grandma! Grandpa!’ Abigail called and ran to meet them.
‘Abigail! You look so grown up and your party dress is so pretty,’ Grandma said, smiling.
‘It’s Mummy’s favourite colour. Do you think she’d like it?’
‘I think it’s perfect,” Grandpa said.’
‘Abigail,’ Daddy said quietly. “Your friends have arrived.’
She looked up at Daddy to ask him to greet them for her, but he was wiping something out of his eye. Grandma hugged Abigail. Abigail knew Grandma was crying too so she hugged her as well. ‘Oh Grandma, I miss Mummy soooo much, but she would want us to enjoy the party.’
Grandpa hugged them both ‘Yes, she would. Now go and meet your friends and enjoy the afternoon.’
Abigail greeted her friends and opened her presents. A clown skipped into the playground, making the children laugh. He twisted balloons to form the shape of little animals, stood on his hands and spun hoops on his feet. Abigail thought it was the best party ever.
Abigail was too excited to go to bed that night. After her bath, she dressed in her new summer night gown, and sat on Grandpa’s knee while he read her favourite story: Noah’s Ark. She knew it almost by heart because her mummy had always read it before she went to sleep—sometimes twice.
‘Abigail,” Daddy said, coming into the room with a glass of milk. “Grandma and Grandpa Lawson want to talk to you.’
Abigail felt suddenly afraid. Daddy had said something like that when Mummy got sick. She remembered that Mummy was crying and Daddy told her they would be okay. Abigail climbed off her grandpa’s knee and went to her daddy.
‘It’s all right, Abigail,” Grandma smiled at her. “Everything is OK.’
‘You see,” Daddy said, lifting Abigail onto his knee, “we all miss Mummy very much and…’
‘What your daddy is trying to say, is that we miss your mummy, too,” Grandma continued. “But, we also miss you and your daddy.’
Grandpa sat on the floor in front of Daddy and Abigail reached down to hug his neck.
Grandpa took a deep breath. ‘Grandma and I want to move in with you and Daddy, at least until we get a house close by. Your daddy and I talked about it a lot and we think your mummy would like it. What do you think?’
‘This is the best birthday gift ever! Can they live with us, Daddy… please?’
‘Abigail, this is your birthday gift. It’s up to you.’ Daddy was laughing now. He hadn’t laughed for a long time.
She jumped off her daddy’s knee and hugged her grandpa and her grandma. ‘Please come and stay— I’ll even let you call me Abby. Mummy always called me Abby.’