Yesterday was the Hubs’s first after death birthday – he would have been 60.
The week leading up to it felt extra heavy. I’ve been dreading this day. He should have been driving the new-to-him car I had saved for years for him to get.
And yet, despite having died in March, he was with me all day…
I woke up to a text offer from the neighbors to do some work on my yard (it is a Disaster – thigh high weeds 😬 – tho I am getting bids for a landscape service to take care of it). By the time I woke up, it was too hot, they had retreated back inside for the time being. They said they would be happy to do it when the weather cooled off.
Soon it was time for the family Zoom rum tasting I had arranged, so that nobody in our immediate family would have to be alone all day on such a rough day. It was nice. Sam, in his urn, placed next to me.
Because he had died suddenly (7 weeks from first doctor’s appointment to death – we really didn’t have time to discuss bequests), and because all that was his is now legally mine, I had decided that everyone would get something they couldn’t or wouldn’t do for themselves, as a bequest from the Hubs (to be determined at a later day, privately).
We had a great time, sharing some thoughts about the Hubs, then our usual tasting, comparing, educating and then chatting for a while wherever the conversation took us. We collectively decided on the liquor for the next tasting (bourbon), and signed off.
Soon after the Hubs sent me flowers, via his work wife:
And then I lost it, sobbing. And right then, there was a momentary power outage – literally off, then on. You know, the kind of things “spirits” have been known to do? It stopped me in my tracks…for a bit.
When I realized the power would stay on, I again saw the beautiful flowers I had received and started crying again. I got up to rinse out a glass in the kitchen and was startled by the low water pressure. I took a closer look and saw that handle was not all the way opened (it is a touch faucet, so the temperature and flow rate are pre-set). I did not remember leaving it like that, half closed. When I fully opened the flow, the pressure was fine. But he had stopped the crying, again.
I finally got the sense that he was not having me cry on his birthday.
An hour later I headed out to dinner. I was eating at the same restaurant we had gone to for his birthday last year. That was our first dinner out since the pandemic. They had outside seating and we felt safe eating there.
When I made the reservation, I told the restaurant all the circumstances.
They greeted me with “happy birthday.” Then the hostess told me the special for the night:
This was the dish I had last December when we came here for our 30th anniversary dinner. 😳
Although I had thought to have a fish dish (the Hubs often had fish when we were out, cuz we didn’t eat it enough for him at home), I was called to have the dish we had talked about having, but he hadn’t lived long enough for us to have together – the whole duck fat fried chicken.
The menu said it fed 2-4 people. It came with mac n cheese, pickles, honey, biscuits, hot sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, and gravy. I ordered it just for me.
Of course, that means I’ll be eating it for days…😂…which extends the birthday celebration – something we would routinely do.
When I reflexively started doomscrolling on my phone, a tiny leaf dropped onto the table right in front of me. I took that to mean ‘put the phone down, pay attention!’ So I did, people watching and eavesdropping on other diners as we would have done.
During dinner he told me he loved me, via a former neighbor’s text:
Also during dinner, I saw three motorcycles come through the intersection I was facing (separately), that exactly coincided with our personal, joint motorcycle journey – first a single rider on a touring bike (the Hubs had one when we met), then two riders together on a touring bike (we learned to ride together Really Well), then a single rider on a Kawasaki (when I learned to ride and it was time for me to get a bigger bike, the Hubs took me to a large local dealership and said I could have any 600cc bike I wanted, brand new – I chose a Kawasaki that I still have).
Then I ordered what I thought he would order for dessert – the pecan tart (he loved pecan pie) to go ‘cuz I was full and it felt like time to go home. The restaurant not only comped me the pecan tart, they also told me they were including, and comping, their usual birthday dessert – cookies and fruit. The server got a 25% tip on what the bill would have been With the 2 desserts.
We have cameras at home with phone notifications which starting going off near continuously right after I sat down to dinner. When I checked one I saw one of the neighbor boys in our front yard. I figured he was looking for the family cat, who wanders often. Then I mostly forgot about the notifications.
I headed home with my delicious bounty to find both of my nearest neighbors’ households – a total of 4 adults and 5 kids completely de-weeding and mowing my lawn, and de-weeding the planting beds in my front yard (I had only asked for a buffer zone around the walkway to my front door as I am still planning to get pros in).
BTW, this was the Hubs taking care of the front yard (as he did when he was alive) via the neighbors. I shared with them that this was the Hubs’s birthday and joked with them that they should blame him for all the work they had just done on such a hot day. We all wished him a happy birthday together.
They were just about done when I came back from dinner. As things were winding down, I offered ice cream to the kids and beer to the adults. After I served up the ice cream, one household quietly collected their tools and went home. I stood out in my driveway with the other neighbors talking for about an hour – just like we did with them when he was alive.
We all finally went inside about 9pm. I felt peaceful – a peace which is still with me this morning.
It is such an odd thing to say – that my husband’s first dead birthday felt almost…magical? 🤷♀️
I do know that he was with me all day, so that I could really celebrate that he had been born!