Aria finally got up from the living room couch, setting down the blanket she was clutching to her chest, and walked over to the kitchen to get a glass of water.
"You Ok sweetie?" Emma, her Grandmother asked.
"Yeah, I'm Ok Grandma. You know I just don't like this time of year." Aria replied taking a big gulp of water.
"Come here." Emma patted the seat next to her.
Aria hesitantly walked over and sat down. As she did, her grandmother instantly wrapped her arms around Aria's small frame.
"Everything will be Ok one day." Emma said, placing a sweet kiss on top of her head.
"I just miss them so much." Aria cried, bringing the small blanket yet again to her chest. "And today's her birthday. Another birthday without me."
"Sweetie, don't cry. You'll be alright."
"I've just been so strong Grandma, with everything I've been through, I don't think I can keep playing that role. I can't."
"Aria, you're the strongest person I know. We can fix this. You can fix this."
"I'm not so sure." Aria sighed. "They both probably hate me and who can blame them. I just packed up and left. Why did I grandma?. Thinking back, it would have been better to be with them. I've been miserable ever since I left them."
"Honey, you had a understandable reason." Emma soothed. "Now, come on, theres that cake waiting over there for us."
Emma got up and started to walk but stopped when she noticed Aria still sitting.
"Aria, come on, it's a tradition. Do it for her."
Aria followed Emma into the kitchen and set everything up. They brought the cake over to the coffee table, which was filled with the very few baby pictures she had of her daughter.
"Five already." Emma sighed.
"Yeah. Five years old." Aria said, a lonely tear rolling down her cheek.
"Ready?" Emma asked. Aria nodded.
"Happy Birthday to you. Happy birthday to you, Happy Birthday Olivia, Happy Birthday to you."
As they both finished singing, Aria couldn't hold back the tears anymore. She let them run freely down her cheeks and cried into her grandmother as she held her. Every year it was always the same. Each year they would buy a cake and celebrate Olivia's birthday. And each year Aria would break down during that day. December was just the hardest and most painful month for her. For the next couple of minutes all heard in the house, were Aria's soft sobs and whimpers.
"I-I'm gonna go to bed." Aria got up, wiping her tears away. "With Winter break at the end of the week, I have a lot to do."
"Ok sweetie. Good night."
"Goodnight." Aria replied, giving her a weak smile.
Aria walked up to her bedroom and got ready for bed. She walked over to her nightstand and took the picture she had of her, Ezra, and their daughter. She slipped under the covers, holding the picture for dear life. She brought the picture to her lips, and gave her daughter a kiss.
"Happy Birthday princess." Aria whimpered. "I miss you"
Hours passed, and Aria eventually fell into a deep slumber, not letting go of her picture at all and laying on her daughter's baby blanket the whole night.
Beep Beep Beep.
Aria rolled over to turn off the annoying sound coming from her alarm clock. She struggled, but managed to get out of bed. She walked over to her bathroom, preparing for the long Monday, but specifically week, ahead of her. When she looked up, she was shocked, almost frightened by her reflection. Her eyes were swollen from the crying from the previous night and her hair was a mess. She loved teaching, but today she just felt like staying home curled up, wanting to make all the pain disappear. Even though she told herself leaving was the right thing to do, she always regretted it. Always. Teaching High School English across the Elementary school only made the pain worse, as sometimes she'd stare out the windows and watch as mothers picked up their little girls, something she couldn't do. Setting those thoughts aside, she finally got ready and prepared for that long week ahead of her.