Chuck threw me a huge birthday party for my 50th. To be honest, our daughter, Rachael-Grace, helped out with it quite a bit, but it was lovely. A dear friend, who died the year before Chuck, baked a red velvet cake. My friends were there from all walks of life. Our kids were there; it was a memorable 50th.
Life changes quickly, and the following year, for my 51, we were just beginning our new life on the road and Chuck surprised me with a trip to Graceland. I’d always been a huge Elvis fan and he knew this would be a huge hit. As it was. I didn’t have any idea where we were headed until I saw the sign that said Memphis. We stayed in a hotel that had framed Elvis pictures in each room, a guitar shaped swimming pool and Elvis music playing throughout the grounds. All songs which I knew and Chuck got such a kick out of me singing along with them.
One of my earliest birthday memories, after Chuck and I married, is the year he took the time leading up to my birthday to get my address book and ask everyone in it to call me on my birthday. He also alerted his family and friends. I spent the day answering our, yes, land line phone, and hearing Happy Birthday, Alison! Chuck made my birthdays so special, every year.
My next few birthdays were spent on the road; I don’t even remember where. What I do recall is that I spent them with him, hiking and exploring the USA. We had all the time in the world together and that was the greatest gift of all. With lots of wild and crazy birthday sex.
The last great present I received for my birthday, my 55th, was the news that Chuck’s first cancer had been eradicated numerous surgeries. He was cancer free, with really really really good odds that it wouldn’t return. God, did we celebrate…I knew a cancer survivor! and that cancer survivor was my beloved husband.
I’m 59 today. Chuck has been dead for 4 years. Fucking cancer got my cancer survivor after all, and my birthdays have never been the same.
I know, I know…I can hear it now. But you must celebrate you! You must grab life and savor it and live it!
Here’s the thing. I know, because I’m a smart, loving person, that I must allow our kids to celebrate me. I must allow my friends and family and all who love me, to celebrate me. And I do and it means so much, especially since Chuck is no longer here to wrap me in his arms and plant a huge, lonnnngggg kiss on my lips, leaving me dizzy.
In just the past month, I’ve received 2 gifts that touch my heart in the only ways that matter: I was reunited with my younger sister, after many years of estrangement, and my wee grandson, Owen Charles, was born. Each of these huge events touch my heart.
But there is a loneliness that goes along with my birthdays in the years since Chuck’s death and that’s just a fact of life. It’s the new world that I live in.
So, today, here in the Ozarks, at the opera camp, on my 59th birthday, living a life I’d never imagined or planned for (emotionally), my gift to myself is telling each person that I meet that it is my birthday and I want hugs.
I want hugs from every person who comes within my radius today. Hugs, hugs and more hugs. All the love that comes with those hugs is what keeps me going, and my heart expands with each hug.
And that’s what I ask of you, too. Anyone who is reading my words today. For my birthday, your gift to me is to hug people you meet along your way today. Stop for a minute, share some time with them, connect with them, and don’t leave them without hugging them.
And maybe, whisper a word to Chuck, whether you know him or not, that you’re all looking out for his girl.
Happy birthday, me~