It has been nearly five years that I’ve had to hear about it. Every now and then it would come up and it gave her so much of a thrill to tease me. I’m pretty sure it was less than a week after my 25th birthday that she brought it up for the first time. I’m talking about the birthday party she was planning to throw for me when I turned 30.
January 12. This Wednesday. Sucks again that she’s gone.
I know most of you probably missed many of the parties she threw, but let me tell you how Stephanie puts together a party. Every party has a theme, and that theme envelopes every last detail. For instance, my 25th was a theme of miniatures. (I have an unhealthy obsession with anything that’s miniature.) The cake was tiered simply to accommodate cupcakes. Each cupcake had a circular tag stuck in it depicting something about my life. There were cocktail hot dogs and mini burgers and mini grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken nuggets.
I’ve always loved my birthday and Stephanie has always felt strongly about how special a person feels for his or her birthday (and the entire week). I’ll be excited for my birthday no matter how old I get – age doesn’t bother me. And Stephanie went to every length to make me feel so special. She’s literally had an idea for my 30th birthday since the week following my 25th birthday, and she has casually teased me with that fact over the years. I’m pretty sure the theme has changed a few times, but only because she thought of something better. She would taunt me, “I came up with an even better idea for your 30th birthday. It’s going to be incredible.” Oh, I couldn’t wait! (If only I knew what else 30 years would bring.)
I’ve been anticipating this 1 month for nearly 60 months and yet 3 months shy of it, my wife passed away. I have no problem sharing with you that I yelled at God about that. A lot. It ran through my mind a number of times while I was in the hospital. I’m not going to get to have my birthday party. Obviously, it wasn’t the worst pain of them all, but it certainly didn’t help the situation.
In line with my aversion to change, I’m trying to keep things as close as possible to what they were supposed to be this year. It’s why Thanksgiving was still at my parents’ house as usual. It’s why I had a Christmas tree and other decorations up based on the way Stephanie decorated. And it’s why I asked my mom about still having my party. Thankfully, Stephanie had shared most of her plans with my mom. (For the record, my mom can throw a quite a mean party, as well.) With the help of some friends – one of whom seems to throw similar parties as Stephanie always did – the party will be happening on January 15 with a rather large guest list.
Nonetheless, I expect this week to be possibly the hardest week of my life besides that time in the hospital. I think it goes without saying that I’m not looking forward to it.
I think of Stephanie’s 30th birthday three years ago and how joyous it was. I made sure her brother was in town for it and surprised her with two La-Z-Boys. (She was always manic about rocking in a chair constantly.) We had just had Brady 9 months prior, which was fantastic considering how desperate she was to have kids before she turned 30. It was such a fabulous celebration of her life thus far.
And now it’s my turn to hit 30. I hate to be melodramatic, but who gets stuck celebrating 30 years as a widow? I know I’m not the first and won’t be the last. But I’m one of them. What kind of birthday am I celebrating this year? Right now, I’m hoping that I can just stay 29 forever until my Stephanie is returned to me. I don’t want to turn 30 without her! It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.