The Derby Party went off without a hitch for the 9th year in a row (let’s just go with 9, we lost count. It might be 8). About 30-40 people showed up. It’s always been just adults, but the kids are getting to be adults now, so a few kids showed up. The RSVP regrets are always interesting. It’s still mostly around our kids’ schedules, but we had a unique one this year. A neighbor we have known for nearly 20 years, whose house I walk past twice a day and whose daughter we watched grow up, texts this afternoon to say they can’t come to the party because their daughter is getting married (here in town) today. We had no idea. That’s going to be hard to top.
The weather is perfect. The forecast was for 78º and thunderstorms which is not good for Derby. Typically we have the windows open and our house gets very warm in the late afternoon even without 40 people stuffed into one room (no one ever leaves the kitchen if they’re in the house). Fortunately, the forecasters are wrong. I think it barely gets above 70º and the rain holds off. It seems every year there is a threat of it being too warm or too cold or rainy, but at the time of the party it’s always great.
I decided to give Tywana her Mother’s Day gift from Shayna a day early. Shayna wouldnt’ have been able to wait until Mother’s Day. This is wild. I get offers every day to receive products in exchange for reviewing them on Amazon. A manufacturer of mugs and glasses asked me if I’d like to review their product. They sent a coupon code and a link to one of their mugs. I don’t know how many mugs they have exactly, but it’s probably in the dozens. The one they asked me to review says “I love how we all know I’m your favorite child”. I thought to myself “Well, I can take the mug, but I’m not going to give it to my mother. That’s not something I’d say.” I thought of giving it to Kayla to give to Ty, but Kayla wouldn’t say that. So, I reviewed it and put it under my desk trying to think of a niece or nephew to give it to. Then it hit me. This was from Shayna for Tywana. Mother’s Day was coming up. So, I decide to give it to her on Mother’s Day. When I present it to her and tell her the story, Kayla puts on her troll face and exclaims “Shayna! Still here!” What I didn’t know is Shayna used to say something very similar to this to Tywana when Kayla was around saying “I know I’m your favorite, you just can’t say it when Kayla’s around. That’s OK.”
We do a pool for the winner of the race. Typically our friend Amy is in charge of setting it up, but Amy’s late this year. I couldn’t care less about gambling. Tywana puts our niece in charge of preparing the slips to draw for the horses. Tywana draws for us. We get Nyquist. Just before the race, someone mentions to Tywana that Nyquist is the favorite. OK…. Maybe we have a chance of winning this year. Rich and Ada aren’t here (they win all the time) and we’ve drawn the favorite. The race goes off. It’s too loud in the room to actually hear the call, but I see Nyquist is in second place early in the race. The horses near the front never seem to win, but my interest is piqued a bit. As they cross the finish line I think I see number 13 on the winning jockey’s sleeve. Yep. It’s Nyquist. Nyquist is number 13 (Shayna’s birthday and one of the numbers we’re supposed to look for from her). Also, the jockey is wearing purple silks. A synchronicity and a sign that Shayna is here today.
I miss Shayna terribly during the day. Her favorite cousin is here and Shayna would love to be right here in the mix. As we eat the deviled eggs, I think of Shayna. As I’m making the barbecue I’m thinking of her. Somehow during the party, at one moment, for about five or ten minutes, everyone was inside and I got a moment on the deck by myself to just sit and think about her. I realize that one day events without her will be the new normal. Well, they are the new normal now, but will I ever get used to it? I don’t really want to get used to it. Even with 30 people in the house, I’m still talking to her.
After we clean up the house, we hit the hay. Speaking of new normal, it’s strange to hear other people in the house once we’ve closed the bedroom doors. My brother, his wife and his son are spending the night and Kayla’s home. I used to love to hear the sounds of the girls going to bed at night or even hearing them in the bathroom in the middle of the night. I miss that.
Around 4 AM I wake up. My heart feels like a stone in my chest. I’m not really sure what’s going on. I just feel an extremely profound sense of sadness. It was great having the signs from Shayna today. The mug, the winner of the race (and we actually won $50). Awesome. But, I still can’t wait to see her again. I’m one Derby Day closer.