This week  my mother and I attended a family friends daughter’s 16th Birthday. It has been a long time since I have been to a party let alone a 16 year olds’. But as it turns out the 16th Birthday is a big deal for mothers and  daughters.  I remember being fascinated with the 16th birthday when my older sister turned 16. She was bought a huge custom made pink and white sweet sixteen birthday cake with a new outfit, shoes and make-up to boot. I remember feeling excited about my own which was  never  as lavish when it arrived 3 years later. I was woken up by my mother and siblings with a hand-made  pink card in the morning and that was all. There  were no pictures, no dress, no make up, no cake, no fuss.  I still cried because it was so sweet.

So I couldn’t help thinking of my own very intimate morning sweet sixteen birthday when we entered the lavish backyard decked out  with a huge Marque,  with white tables, chairs, sofas, DJ, sweets, chocolate ice-cream cake the works, it was all  pretty magnificent. The birthday girl glowed in an off white princess dress with a bodice decorated with pearls, and crystal sequins.  Her wide sparkling smile was accentuated by her  deep dimples which transferred light into her almond shaped eyes which were the likeness of a shooting star – she was simply beautiful to behold.  I found myself  drawn to her mother, who was at that very moment, still busy putting the final touches to the evening which not as perfect as she would have liked with  a huge slide projector showing images of her beloved from birth until her  16th birthday, her coming of age ceremony. She was besides herself with worry.  I watched her, as she took a moment on the sidelines  to stand and watch  her beautiful daughter glowing, happy and surrounded by her friends. Her  hands clasped tightly on her lips as if in prayer, hoping to God that her beloved would always know and remember how hard, and how much she loves her.

In her speech she kept on saying, over and over again, remember that you are loved, you are loved, I love you. We love you. You are special. You are loved. There’s a special reason you exist.

The sweet 16 year old in her speech was buoyant and fun but I found a level of refreshing honesty in what she said which resonated with my state of mind. She said ” I’m so nervous about being 16, about what this means, I’m nervous about it”

I realized that I was nervous too. About the next stage of my life, about  being 34 and what it means. It feels different. I am definitely not 16 or 25. In many ways even at 34 standing behind my mother who was holding my hand I still wasn’t sure just why I exist or if my actions so far have justified my existence.

But it took a 365 day marriage proposal video which I watched on youtube to make it clearer for me to understand again what a mother’s love looks like from another perspective. Watching this guy carry a white board every day for 365 days proposing to her girlfriend without her knowledge showed me love in action. He didn’t have to. But he chose to make it his life mission to demonstrate his love to her everyday.  It made me think of my mother who carried me everywhere for nine-months. She didn’t have to but she chose to have me for better or worse. She made sure I arrived here on earth, alive. I have found no greater love than this.  To love and be loved is the reason we all exist.

Please come visit  The African. That’s where I am now.


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