December 24, 2005
Since her birthday was December 24th, Michele rarely had the attention a June or October birthday might garner. Instead her celebration was often rolled into the holiday or skipped altogether. Throughout our relationship I tried very hard to make her birthday special. I know that her birthday in South Carolina in 1999 was the low point in the years we had together. Perhaps the high point was December 2003. You see, that year I managed to pull off a surprise party for her which was attended by her three best friends.
It all started in January, 11 months earlier, when I had the idea of inviting her three best friends to come to our house in Illinois for a weekend in December to celebrate her birthday. Emails were sent and calendars marked; every one agreed to come. Now I just had to keep my mouth shut for a year. The first few months were easy; it wasn't until September and October when flight plans were solidified that I had to really work at not saying anything that would let the cat out of the bag.
The weekend of December 12 -14 finally arrived and the surprise was complete. Never had I seen her so completely shocked and overjoyed at the same time. She just could not stop smiling and laughing. As luck would have it one friend was unable to travel on Friday, so I got to surprise her again on Saturday when Laura arrived. The four women sat and talked, cried, laughed, and communed with each other for hour after hour that day. The conversation lasted well into the wee hours of the morning. It was truly a glorious celebration centered around Michele.
On Sunday morning, before shuttling her friends back to the airport, I snapped this picture. This was the last time Michele saw her friends, and I am very glad they all came to spend a snowy weekend together.