Last fall, Kenneth told me he wanted a birthday party. I rolled my eyes.
“Really? We’re kind of busy.”
“I want a party,” he insisted, steadfast in his desire.
I rolled my eyes again. “Do you want me to do a theme too? Power Rangers? Strawberry Shortcake? Aren’t you a little old for all of this?”
“Food and drinks. Like our other parties. And the nachos. Everyone loves the nachos.”
I grumbled. Not the nachos again. I was sure everyone was sick of the baseball snackbar chips and cheese we’ve been serving at every party.
I begrudgingly did the party. This picture hits me in the gut when I look at it today:
I often wonder if Kenneth subconsciously knew this was his last birthday. He has this look on his face like he’s pondering something. I also notice how good he looks–he worked hard on that body. It seems unfair that he had to look so good on his way out. You can see the baby paraphernalia in the background, a testament that we were indeed quite busy. Halloween decorations are around. Halloween used to be my favorite time of year. And now it all feels so very empty.
Next week is Kenneth’s birthday. He would have been 53. I think about me giving him a hard time for wanting a party. Now I wish I could throw him the biggest party in the world.
Today we celebrated October birthdays with Kenneth’s family. I felt his absence. It was like an empty room in a house. Hollow. Lonely. He should have been there. He should have been annoying somebody with some kind of advice. We shouldn’t have had to take flowers to the cemetery. We should have been eating lemon cream cheese pie and he should have been sitting next to his sister, reminiscing about their childhood.
I acknowledged the empty room feeling. I let the pain wash over me and resolved to myself that I will never, ever question celebrating a birthday ever again. Ever.
Of course we must celebrate! Now I must insist that every single person celebrate their birthday in some way. Every birthday. Never stop.
You don’t know when it will be your last.
Next Sunday, on Kenneth’s would-be birthday, we will have food and drinks and sit down and think about our next project in honor of Kenneth: establishing an annual scholarship to help an AUHSD student(s) go to college. I kind of wanted to invite people over if they wanted to participate. Then again I kind of didn’t want to bother them. I want to celebrate and part of me doesn’t want to celebrate. I’m kind of busy.
But you should always make time to celebrate the people in your life.
So somehow I will.
P.S. He was right about the damn nachos. Everybody loves them. We even get requests.