I know. Shocking.
After brunch, when we had driven home and gotten out the cake - which she made but to fair, she likes to bake - and opened gifts and were eating away, she randomly made the comment that this was likely the last birthday we would all spend together for a very long time.
There was a start in the room, and then we started doing math.
Nighean Gheal leaves for The Big City and adult job responsibilities this weekend and, barring a cataclysmic event or just bad job luck, will likely not be back except for visits. Nighean Bhan has about 1.5 years of graduate school after graduating this December, and it is unknown where she will be next year in school, let alone after that. And Nighean Dhonn will head off to college next August.
Have we not spent all the girls' birthdays together? Of course - Nighean Gheal was gone for two years away to college before The Plague and so the last two years have been a sort of bonus round. But indeed, the chances that something like this just "happens" again is almost nil. Any future such events will have to be carefully planned.
They all laughed about it, talked to about flying out (or taking the train) to see each other, then carried on with birthday plans for the evening. I, on the other hand, just ate my cake and thought.
Here it was - another one of those moments that almost always creeps past us because it has become so expected, so ordinary, that we take it for granted. And then suddenly - usually after the fact - we realize that the moment was really the last moment, the last time that thing would happen. There may be other things like it, but they will never rise to the level of being an ordinary event, something that just organically happens. They become extraordinary events, things that do not happen except with careful scripting and planning.
The cake was finished fairly quickly of course, and we were already on to presents and talking about where she was going to dinner. One can only stand around awkwardly with an empty cake plate in one's hand, so after a suitable interval I excused myself to get ready for the rabbit shelter. My presence was ancillary at best to the moment, not a requirement at that point.
Sometimes this moments simply get away from us. I am grateful that I was given the eyes to see it for what it truly was: the end of an era.