He told me he didn’t need a birthday party. Thought it best to keep it low-key. Sounded good. In theory.
But this past Thursday, November 17, when I escorted him into a jam-packed room of seventy well-wishers, one to mark each year of his life, my husband’s face turned to smiles. The people who shouted “Surprise!” at him and sang birthday wishes together had come from every part of his past life—high school friends, former bosses, co-workers, siblings and their extended families, church relationships—to celebrate the life of this man they knew as helper, encourager, example, and friend.
He didn’t eat—I knew he wouldn’t. He wandered from table to table, catching up, reminiscing, reliving times and places that only he and the guests at that table would remember. Some had driven from as far away as southern California, as far north as mid-Oregon, just to attend this special birthday celebration with him. I circulated, directing restaurant staff as I made sure people’s plates were filled, and their drinks quenched their thirsts.
While I served cake, some roasted him, most toasted him. I could tell by his stance that he was both humbled and pleased, tongue-tied on the one hand, laughing until his eyes watered on the other, while guest after guest remembered some incident that was important to them. Many said they were better people for having known my husband.
I’d attended funerals where similar stories were shared, but this was far better. The person for whom the praises mattered most stood in the room. He was able to hear firsthand how much he was loved while he was still able to appreciate it.
Matthew 5:16 says “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” From the responses of the guests, my husband had lived that verse.
And so I close this week with birthday wishes for my husband, a man I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and sharing life with for almost thirty-seven years. Together we’ve owned two houses, reared two children, driven many cars, and cared for an assortment of pets.
I pray we have many more birthdays in the years that lie ahead, however many God in His wisdom will give us together. Happy Birthday. Of all the people I know, you deserve those words the most.
I love you.