We'd invited quite a few friends from high school, if I remember correctly. Four showed up. Not exactly a banner turnout, but it wasn't about that. Because our 17th birthday took place six months after Tara almost died of a massive brain hemorrhage. It was still so soon after that I was looking at every celebration with an extra amount of gratitude, and an extra awareness that Christmas and four subsequent family birthdays prior to ours could have been very different. As a twin, I could have faced the unthinkable possibility of celebrating my birthday, alone, instead of celebrating our birthday, together.
When that day came, in June of 1998, I was never too far from that sense of awe, shock and appreciation, that we were given this gift. This opportunity to celebrate turning 17 together. The presents didn't matter, though I was grateful for them. The friends who showed up were also so important to us, and we had fun eating pizza around the picnic table in our driveway, and watching our youngest brother, Tanner (only 2) play with the hose, try to water flowers, play with his Super Soaker, manage to get whatever makeup we'd been given on his face, and get in on the group shot of us and all our friends.