“We see much, observe little, and perceive less” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Heather Hawkins by © Jeannette Breward

“Heather and I originally came up with the idea for her shoot because of her love of fall and road trips. But the incorporation of her vehicle became much more significant when I found out that the day we shot her image was actually the one year anniversary of the time Heather was a victim of a multi-vehicle accident that resulted in the death of a driver in another vehicle – one that Heather stayed with so that she was not alone when she passed. Heather was lucky to walk away from the accident – a fact that she definitely does not take for granted. The fact that our shoot fell on the anniversary of this life-changing event felt significant – this was almost like a day of rebirth – having another chance at life that not everyone involved was able to have.” – Jeannette B

Image © Jeannette Breward

An Interview with Heather

Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

A. My 20th birthday. Literally all of my best friends and family were there. My birthday falls on the May long weekend every year so there’s always a few people that are away and can’t make it, but that year I was surrounded by everyone I love, and 2 cakes! You can never have a bad time with 2 cakes. 

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. In grade 1 I had his wicked piñata at my party, and a broken arm. You can’t take a proper swing at a piñata with only one good arm. 

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that most surprised you?

A. For my 24th birthday, my best friend and I decided to take a road trip to New York City (best weekend ever). The night before we left I had a few close friends and family over for dinner and cake and she surprised me with a sunset booze cruise in NYC. Probably the best gift I’ve received in a long time, but I was more surprised as this is super out of character for her – she’s the last minute type who never plans ahead, so this made it even more special.

Q. Is there one food or dish that you insist on eating during your birthday celebration?

A. DQ ice cream cake. A must have for my birthday.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. Being around the people you love, and being able to use “it’s my birthday” as an excuse for pretty much anything.

Q. Do you/your family/culture have any traditions/rituals/ceremonies that are performed to celebrate birthdays? What is it?

A. Besides the necessary Dairy Queen cake, dinner with my favourite people, some off-key singing of happy birthday, and I always close the night with a picture of my closest friends and I – it’s nice to be able to look back year after year and she what’s changed.