Why I dreaded this birthday is hard to explain. Some may have said I was being melodramatic. But the pain I felt was real. That's what matters.
I lost my older brother five years ago. A day doesn't pass without me thinking of Tony. I may be mourning his death or fondly remembering his life, but he is always with me.
Tony was five years older than me. He died one week before his 39th birthday. For this reason, I was dreading that birthday. It meant I'd be older than my older brother. Something is wrong with that fact. It's like a world turned up-side-down and all mixed up? How can I be older than Tony?
During the week before my birthday, I began to sink into a state of depression. I didn't want to face reality. I just wanted to make this birthday go away. Crying in my lonely room seemed like the best way to mark the date.
To my surprise, I had an idea. Instead of mourning death, I could embrace life. In a flash, before I could consider my actions, I was on Facebook inviting friends to a birthday dinner at Pancho and Lefty's in Stow, Ohio.
Had I lost my mind? Probably. I never do anything special on my birthday. Plus, I'm much too old for a party. Never-the-less, a party is exactly what I needed.
Yesterday I put on my cool clothes and dangly earrings and walked into the restaurant as the guest of honor. My parents, brother, sister-in-law and son were there. Also present were seven of my signing friends, a high school friend and my poetry teacher. It was a beautiful mix of the people who are most important to me.
I sat between Joseph and a KSU friend who is an educational interpreting major. She interpreted for those who didn't know how to sign and kept me informed about what was going on. In this manner, I could actually be part of the group.
What a group it was! We had the table set for 10 people. As more friends arrived, we had to add extra tables. I was blown away. I never imagined so many people would actually want to spend a Saturday night during the holiday season with little, old me. The show of love and friendship touched my heart. I'm so thankful to everyone who helped me have a wonderful birthday.
We ate and drank our margaritas. I went crazy and ordered a second. That's a record for me. I had to wear the big sombrero while the staff and my guests sang "Happy Birthday." This time, I could actually "hear" the song, as a friend signed the words into my hands. Did anyone take pictures? I sure hope not.
Happy birthday to me... Even after the booze wore off, I was still smiling.