Happy Birthday to You

Posted by Danny

As a kid I hated birthday parties.  Not mine – only the ones for others.

There was just something about them – one, my mom didn’t go with me.  Two, there were often people there I did not know.  I used to be pretty intimidated around strangers.

The boy across the street was a good guy.  He spent nearly the entire summer at our house – arriving before breakfast and leaving at dusk when my mother shooed him away.  His parents were older – his father owned a funeral home.  That, that in and of itself freaked me out.

In addition, his father had one leg.  As a child, I found that perplexing and bothersome. 

I was scared to death to go to my neighbor’s birthday party.  My friend loved red velvet cake – something in my mind combined the missing leg with the funeral home, blood and that cake.  I get the heebie geebies just thinking about it today.

At another birthday party near Halloween, I dressed up like Dracula.  The white makeup ran down my fake fangs as I cried my eyes out until my mom picked me up.  If I think about it hard, I can sort of taste the bitter flavor of K Mart face paint.

I don’t guess that I hate birthdays anymore.  I sort of enjoy eating cake and celebrating my friends and family.

We found out Lisa was sick about five months after her 39th birthday.  When I turned 40, she threw me a huge party – bar-b- q and a man playing a guitar in the backyard.  A couple hundred folks came out to wish me well.  I’d asked her if she wanted a party for her 40th.  “Nah.  What I’d really like is to take a trip with just you.”

That trip never came – she died a month before she would have turned forty.

And so today, on what would have been her 42nd birthday, I’ll remember the ones we had, and I’ll dream about the ones we didn’t.

My Mom

I attended Open House at the girls’ school last Sunday.  You walk through their classrooms, review their work and there is a huge art exhibit in the gym.

Most of the homeroom classes have attractive assignments posted in the class and throughout the hallways.

I was standing outside of Stephanie’s class waiting for her to finish talking with a friend.  I glanced over and on the wall found this peom, written by Stephanie in February.

My Mom

My mom watches over me day and night.

She is in heaven wiht God and Jesus.

Mom is the light of my day and is bright!

She’ll do whatever she can to please us.

I love her and she loves me so much, too!

Mrs. Tanner worked hard, I love her for that.

She cared for people, especially you.

She’d be by your side in one second flat.

Seh worked hard at church, she worked hard at school.

A great mom, a good wife, a special friend.

She was witty, clever, and always cool!

Always loyal until the very end.

With me she was always patient and calm.

She’s my very special Valentine mom!

I’m glad she remembers.

A Gift For Us

Posted by Danny

Today would have been Lisa’s 41st birthday.  I’m on a cruise – I just can’t face these days at home.

But I think that she has given me a gift on this, her birthday.

On February 14, 2010, Lisa wrote me a Valentine’s Day card.  It was ten days before she died. 

For some reason, I did not open it that night.  She was sick and I just never got around to it.  In fact, I didn’t decide to open it until the day after her funeral.

When I sat in my chair in the den and opened the red envelope, I was scared that I was going to be disappointed.  That perhaps she would have just signed her name.

I was not. 

It wasn’t a long card, but it was the most beautiful, selfless thing I’ve ever read.

I have written that I have very little guilt associated with Lisa’s death.  I think I did all that I could – and perhaps I have that clear conscience because she wrote that in this card. 

It was a message from the one I loved who told me not to worry, not to feel responsibility for the outcome of her disease – that I had done all that I could do.

It was a  get out of jail card from the only person who could issue such freedom. 

Although I was totally unprepared for Lisa’s death, my wife knew she was going to die and wasn’t about to let that keep the rest of us from living.  Instead of resentment toward those who were able to stay behind, she showered them with love and offered us an invitation to move forward without her. 

She gave us the gift of a clear conscience; she gave us the gift of a guilt free future.

Happy Birthday Baby.  And thank you.

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