The Birthday Wish

Maybe it’s the creative thinker in me, but I’ve long been a fan of the magical world of wishes and Genies in a bottle. We lived in New Orleans in the early 1960’s, and one Saturday afternoon I saw the classic movie about Aladdin’s Lamp, a life-changing moment that made me believe in the possibility of flying carpets and a world that granted you three wishes.

So certain of the notion, every entrance to the Piggly Wiggly included an “Abracadabra” as I commanded the electric doors to open on my word.  As I grew older, the “Make-a-Wish” birthday ritual was something I pondered long before the once-a-year cake was put before me. One year I wanted to marry Davy Jones of The Monkees, but my Tiger Beat fantasy was soon replaced by the desire to be a co-star on The Avengers with 1960’s heroine Emma Peel. I even wrote her in London offering up my 10-year-old acting expertise because I believed birthday wishes were for my wildest dreams and not for things as simple as “I hope for waffles and pancakes for birthday dinner.”

I did a google search on what others wish for, and found world peace looming out there. But the surprise entries included, “I wish that I could find a dog food that didn’t make Luna fart so badly that it takes my breath away every five minutes,” and “I would wish that I loved exercise as much as I love chili dogs.”

Sweet Jesus…Amen to that, Sister.

As a grown-up, Emma Peel is off the “A” list. In the quiet of the night, my heart still wishes that I could have experienced my daughter falling in love and getting married. It was top of Megan’s Wish List, too, and she even had this dress clipped in a dream folder of all-things-perfect wedding. She did visualize and believe there was a life beyond cancer. Her planning was down to the detail, including invitations that said, ‘O Happy Day embossed in white. Live butterflies would be released at the end of the ceremony for that unforgettable photo moment. Neither of those things materialized. Jesus came on a not-so-happy day when my girl became our eternal butterfly. It’s been eleven years since her death, but that desire still occasionally pings at my emotions.

My guess is my most frequent wish is for a catch-up conversation with my girl, in person or via some eternal phone hot-line. I told her before she died that there is a whole universe out there and to “be sure to do something with that eternal life!” A call would enable me to hear about Megan’s Great Adventures, followed by her trademark, “Talk to me, Momoushka…” I would tell her how in the last eleven years I woke up out of a great cloud of grief. I would fill her in on what I’ve been doing and what I’ve been wearing this side of eternity….because for heaven’s sake she was worried I’d wear some wadded-up knit outfit with matching comfy and functional shoes for the rest of my life since she wasn’t here to lay out my clothes.

With that said, I do guard myself from wishing my life away, and with each passing year I have a keener understanding of the importance of being present in the moment. In the last months my design work for funeral programs and legacy books has touched hundreds of people in their time of grief. “Put Up Your Umbrella” continues to gain momentum in publication. I’ve helped four others self-publish, with one of those authors now read on five continents. Learning the Adobe Suite including InDesign and Photoshop gave me the advanced skill set to help a friend develop Beautifully Said, a hilarious greeting card line that is taking the world by storm. All those things bring enormous meaning to my life and to say I love my work would be an understatement.

Don’t think today’s birthday will be cheerless – quite the contrary. My 10-year-old special friend, Ava Joy, began birthday texting late yesterday. She is A. Joy, and the one training me in all-things-Apple-watch. She also ensures that moving forward we have craft days where a 10-year-old and a 62-year-old collaborate on creative things. I’m having lunch with dear friends Jim and his wife Linda from the office, a couple who are like family to me. In the evening I will be with BFF Kim Schiltz at Omaha Fashion Week. She has been a gift in and of herself just for who she is, but Kim is also Megan’s watchdog, policing my wardrobe and making sure I’m never out of fashion step.

But as I blow out sixty-two candles waiting for Emma Peel to respond to my generous acting offer, someone, anyone, please pass me the eternal telephone.

Key Notes:

  • I will talk to my son on my birthday, and relish ever minute of hearing of Ryan’s Great Adventures.
  • Since it first appeared in the early 18th century, “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp” has been one of the best known and most retold of all fairy tales with many variations.
  • Abracadabra is of unknown origin, but some say it parallels phrases in Hebrew that mean “I will create as I speak.”
  • Phone a friend that you have been thinking about. Have a long conversation. It will be worth a million dollars. It’s my birthday wish this year!
  • Please post comments on this blog…not facebook.  It’s my wish to advance in google ranking. 🙂

On A Lighter Note:

  • Don’t tell anyone, but I still say “Abracadabra” when I enter the grocery store. Seems to be working, as the doors open to this day.
  • Mom told me I did ask for pancakes and waffles for dinner on my fourth birthday. I got them. No wonder I struggle with my weight.
  • Drop by Everbloom at 90th and Center in Omaha to see Vanessa and Andrea’s hilarious cards. This is a favorite! You can also find them at

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  1. Happy Belated birthday, so glad you got to enjoy your day. To the next year, more adventures, more amazing times with friends and great crafting

  2. So well written! I completely enjoy and get wrapped up in your mind and heart through the way you are able to translate your thoughts to words.

  3. You are so talented. Your words are always so thought-provoking and encouraging. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Beautifully written as always my friend. No doubt Megan is watching over you and blessing your path with people who will pave the path to your absolute best life. Love, hugs, and Happy Birthday!

  5. Happiest of magical Birthdays my life long and amazing friend! You have been my guardian angel and inspiration as long as I’ve known you. You touch my heart every time you put pen to paper.i wish you magic and Megan’s call. She’s here today. Just listen???

  6. I love everything about this post! You are such an amazing and talented gift to me and to the world. Praying that this year will be a year full of success and favor that takes your breath away! You SO deserve it! Happy birthday!

  7. Happy Birthday Val! Once again an inspiring and funny story! Another friend of mine posted a lengthy poem on her 61st birthday this week. Below is the last line which touched me deeply and I hope it will you too:

    “We have two lives and the second one begins when you realize you only have one .”

    Love you sister! Oh Happy Day.

  8. Dearest Val, I love your writing. I consume every word as if it’s the yummiest birthday cake ever! I hope you have an amazing birthday and this is the beginning of the best life ever. Any time you want to hit the Greek diner, lunch is on me. Love you!

    1. So true.
      Recently I was holding my grandbaby on my lap mindlessly moving w a gentle rock.
      I looked out the window and saw my mom’s wind chime swaying in perfect sync w my rocking…. without a doubt a sign.

  9. Abracadabra my friend and a Happy Birthday to you. My wish for you today is for Megan to send you a message. Watch for it, be open to it, because it is going to happen. Love you my friend and have a wonderful Birthday!

  10. Happy Birthday to one of our greatest wishes come true!! May you Abracadabra your way through infinity and beyond❤️
    Another fabulous post!!

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Article by: Valerie Bourdain

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