By tuning in.
Canan inhaled slowly through his nose and as he did his chest filled with the lightness of the laughter around him. He exhaled and the weight of his pain dissolved, his breathing normalised and he could smile unreservedly at the many faces beaming back at him.
Standing before the chocolate mud cake alight with twenty-five candles, Canan was grateful for the generous gathering at the morning tea. The staff and young people at the Melbourne Youth Drop-In Centre where he worked were singing him happy birthday in a jovial harmony.
Over the past three years employed as a youth worker at the centre he had developed great friendships with his colleagues and earned the respect of the teens who regularly dropped by.
Absorbing the positive energy emanating from the room had boosted his mood tremendously, but there was still that niggling reminder that his day wasn’t quite complete. There was someone missing from the celebrations, someone Canan had tried all morning to keep out of his thoughts. But failed.
What should mark as a day of festivities always triggered an overwhelming sense of grief for Canan.
A thump on his back sent vibrations through his body and snapped Canan out of the depressing thoughts he was prone to drift to.