My great friend Lisa is celebrating her fortieth birthday today. One of the world's genuine, old souls, it has been more than a decade since she left me here at the Firm for greener pastures. I knew when she left that her decision was the correct one. Ten years further on up the road, I still know it.
When Gracie (a nickname bestowed upon her in recognition both of the fact that she fell and broke a bone in her foot while attempting to teach her niece how to do a cartwheel ("Not like this!") and her deft comic timing) announced, way back when in February 2005 that she was leaving the Firm, I rather glumly reported the news to Margaret. The very next day, my wife called the office - not to talk to me but to talk to Lisa directly. She did so to wish her well and to ask her to stay. Margaret reminded her that in having worked with me for five years, she had assumed the responsibility of keeping me sane (Code for "Acting like less of an Asshole") at work, which allowed Margaret to focus on performing that task in every other facet of my life.
I must confess that Gracie's 40th birthday snuck up on me. No, not her birthday, which I remembered, but the milestone associated with this particular one. It was not until I recalled that Margaret and I had gone to a surprise party for her to celebrate her 30th birthday, which party had taken place only a few months after she left the Firm in 2005 that I worked out the math in my head. In the decade-plus since our work lives headed off on divergent paths, they have overlapped for just a brief moment in time. When I stepped away from the Firm in 2009 for what proved to be a brief, ill-fated adventure, the sole redeeming part of the experience was that it reunited us. It turned out to be a very brief reunion but, while it lasted, it was fun.
Had my arrival as their sixth child, with my Jupiter-sized head and epileptic seizures, not convinced WPK, Sr. and Joanie K that God no longer wanted them to go forth and multiply, then perhaps there would have been a seventh Kenny sibling. There is not. For the past fifteen years or so, I have considered Gracie to be the cool, hip younger sister I never had.
And when I consider the journey she has made in the time that I have been fortunate enough to call her my friend, I beam ear-to-ear in a way that, I imagine, a proud older brother would.
In honor of her birthday, I offer a song. And since it is her birthday, the voice singing it shall not be mine...