June 19, 2006
Back in late April and early May I was casting about trying to decide how to celebrate my birthday this year. For the first time in nine years it would be a day without Michele’s planning behind it. Adding to the difficulty was my mom’s declining health. The weekend of my birthday I actually traveled to Illinois in what later was the last visit I had with my Mom while she was still conscious. I would see her again Memorial Day weekend, but she was no longer aware or responsive during that visit.
In thinking about my birthday and trying to decide what Michele would have me do, were I able to contact her and ask, I settled on having a meal out at our favorite Kansas City eatery, Peach Tree. Serving incredible southern style home cooking, Peach Tree is a gem. Located in the Jazz district meals there are often accompanied by live piano or jazz ensembles. The food is simply incredible.
Not wanting to go it alone I asked a couple I met through work if they would like to join me. Michele and I had started a friendship with them, and my relationship with the two of them has only deepened in the months following her death. They agreed and as luck would have it, the first mutually free date was yesterday. Being Father’s Day it turned into an extended family gathering with mom’s and dad’s and grandparents all in attendance. Usually I feel like a red-haired ugly fifth-wheel when I’m the only non-family member present but I was made very welcome and enjoyed myself immensely.
After leaving the restaurant I could feel Michele’s satisfaction that I had done something for me, in celebration of me, for my birthday. It is hard amidst all the grief, travel, and work, to find time to celebrate me, to allow myself to have some good just because. I know that we all need to feel special and valued or we sink into depression. I’ve worked hard at keeping myself active and moving forward, which counteracts much of the pull depression has, but not all. Letting myself have a special meal out, with good friends, was the just the thing to lighten my mood.