Toasting to a birthday in Heaven

"Dear Daddy,
I hope you have a good heaven birthday... Love you."

We are sending birthday cards to Heaven this morning. Today would have been my husband's 42nd birthday.

He and I have been celebrating our January birthdays together for the past 20 years. Twenty years of him rubbing it in that I was two weeks older than him and he would always be younger than me— and he was right. He will always be Forever 41. We had two decades of his favorite bananas foster cake, steak birthday dinners out with friends, wine toasts, terrible surprise parties, homemade birthday cards made from construction paper and birthday balloons delivered to his office. Let's not forget the countless "backrub coupons" and "vouchers for peace and quiet" that piled up in his sock drawer over the years that he never got to redeem. I'd tell him, "it's the thought that counts."

Yes, we will sing the birthday song at his grave—that's where we decide he might be able to hear us best—and leave him cards and balloons. We're going to tell him how we've been doing (he's not going to like that Mia has a new second grade boyfriend or that Payton got in trouble with the teacher last week). We're going to tell him that Brayden got straight As on his report card again and went snowboarding for hours on a recent snow day. We're going to tell him that an anonymous person from our church community did something really huge and generous for our family and I guarantee it's because of who HE was and the legacy he left here, so we'll tell him we're eternally grateful that he was ours.

Even though I've got a headache the size of Texas today and would like nothing better than to cry in bed all day... I've decided we're NOT going to be sad today. We've decided to celebrate his birthday. I tell the kids we're going to do all the things daddy would have wanted to do today.

So after leaving the cemetery later on, we're going across the street to his favorite family-owned restaurant, where they serve big steaks and smoked ribs. They have a couple of his favorite bourbons in there, too. They make kiddie cocktails with cherries in them and they wipe the crumbs from your table between courses. We decide we better warn them we are big crumb-makers.

Daddy loved laughing. It might be why he found me in the first place. We loved laughing at anything —stand up comedians, The Office episodes, his friend's Michael Jackson jokes or houseboat trip storytellings —his laughter was contagious. If he laughed, you laughed.

He loved watching scary movies—even though he would cover his eyes through the entire movie—he was always up for something scary. (We didn't sleep for weeks after seeing Insidious).

Daddy loved making homemade chocolate chip cookies —eating half the raw cookie dough and of course making a big mess in the kitchen. It was one of his biggest challenges —getting just the right amount of chocolate chips in there but still get the cookie to be soft and gooey. Lord, did he love chocolate chip cookies.

Daddy also loved going to the gym and working out, but we decide that maybe Sunday should remain a day of rest, so we're just going to leave that one alone today.

Daddy used to love having his car washed, so we're going to take his car to get spiffed up and shining bright for his birthday. Bye, bye backseat Fruit Loops and broken crayons, we're headed to Johnny's Car Wash today. His will be the cleanest car cruising along the interstate next to all the dirt and snow covered trucks on the road.

He loved the beach and boating, but since we can't do those things in January, we've decided to wait and do those on his half-birthday in July.

Above all else, there was one thing your daddy loved to do, I tell them. Daddy loved snuggling his kids. Whether it was taking a nap on the couch together, reading a book or letting the girls brush and put barrettes in his hair while being forced to watch a Disney movie, this was his number one thing to do. There was no place he'd rather be than cozy under a blanket with his kids any day.

Nope, we're not going to be sad today. We're going to celebrate Daddy's birthday with all things HIM. We're going to laugh, watch scary movies, cuddle on the couch, eat well and binge on chocolate chip cookies all night. We're going to toast the shit out of some bourbon and Shirley Temples and raise our glasses to the heavens—"To FOREVER 41."

Happy Birthday to our dear, Daddy Matthew. We love you to Heaven and back.

This post was also published here at Perfection Pending on Jan. 22, 2018.


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