It was my grandmother’s birthday last Friday, August 17—our first without her, since she passed away last year.

I bought a dedication cake from Red Ribbon, and the guy in charge of piping the message looked at me for a second after reading what I wrote on that piece of paper: Happy birthday, Nanay! We miss you!

When I got home, I took some photos of the cake, and then I cut and gave slices to the maids and Sadako. The cake was really good.

Last Sunday, we had some relatives over (just three as opposed to the 20 or 30 we’d welcome during my grandmother’s previous birthday parties), and we had pansit, lumpia, bicol express, corn on the cob, fried bananas, and steamed fish for lunch. Just a few dishes, really, compared with the feasts we used to have.

It was a very different “celebration.” I was prepared to get sad and teary-eyed and weirded out by just how different things are now that she’s no longer with us. But I was okay. I was fine. I was all right because I know she was with us.

She’s always in my heart. Always.

Happy birthday, Nanay! We miss you!!!