There have been other celebrations that went to the dogs since those days but Levi has never had a birthday party. We made sure his birthdays included a trip to the pet store, though. Then we’d go to Starbucks where the people at the drive-up window always ask if our dog would like some whipped cream in a cup. Is Big Bird yellow? It didn’t take many trips to Starbucks for Levi to figure out that a treat from their window is a cut above the dog biscuits they give out at the bank.
How do other widows mark the first anniversary of their husband’s passing? Many women go to the cemetery, I’m sure, but its January which in my state means the cemetery is closed for the winter---same with the road leading down to the beach where part of Don’s ashes reside. The nature trail is open but I don’t walk in the winter on snow-covered trails. It’s against the old people’s oath I took about not doing things that could potentially break my bones slipping on ice. Still, it feels like I should be doing something. I can’t cry in my beer, I don’t drink it. Hey, does that mean I can’t hang out with Toby Keith? Have you ever noticed how many songs he writes about beer, bars and drinking? Does that Oklahoma boy need a recovery program? Since I got side-tracked here by Toby let me just say I wish I could write country western songs. There’s a huge niche that needs filling. I mean, where are the old people songs about aging widows with too much time on their hands, fighting osteoporosis and finding comfortable shoes being better than Godiva chocolate martinis?
Back on topic: I’ve always been an insecure hostess stemming from the fact that I could qualify to be on the reality show Worst Cook in America. But I’m very proud of how one party I threw turned out. It was on the fifth anniversary of Don’s stroke and I billed it as his “Thank God I’m Alive” party. It was such a wonderful gift to give to my social butterfly of a husband and it was a way to acknowledge all we’d been through to get to that point---the long stroke recovery in the hospital and rehab, selling two houses and two businesses, downsizing in every way possible including having two auctions, then designing and building a new house. The guest list started out at sixty but nearly a dozen more people had heard about the party and invited themselves. Everyone was so happy that day, so filled with joy and laughter. It was a real turning point in our lives---victims turned survivors. I suspect that rebuilding my life after Don’s death will be the same way. At some point in the future it will dawn on me that I’ve turned off Victim Road and I’ll once again be walking on Survivor Street with my head held high in the sun.
The whole reason I’m thinking about that ‘give thanks’ party now is to remind myself that it doesn’t matter one whit what I do or don’t do to acknowledge the first anniversary of Don’s death coming up on the 18th. I gave him my best while he was here to appreciate it. The depth of my grief and love aren't measured by how well I decorate a grave site or throw rose petals in Lake Michigan or spread wild flower seeds along the nature trail where Don’s ashes reside. Whatever I do now to mark the day is for me…and I think I’ll take the dog shopping then stop by Starbucks for coffee and a cup of cream. I may even go to the florist to buy myself a single white orchid which during bereavement expresses “I will always love you.” The x-florist in me can’t ignore those twenty years of my life and the symbolism of flowers. A single flower on my counter top will remind me that all growing things---including humans--evidently peak in their beauty then wither and die leaving behind their seeds for the cycle of life to begin anew. ©
|Cupcakes for Don's Party|