today is Jarronn's birthday. his 30th.
when he was alive, i had really looked forward to celebrating him and this milestone. i imagined a big party. where lots of people got to tell him how much he meant to them. how special he was. because i didn't think he had a true appreciation of how much the world loved him. and i wanted to surprise him with a trip. because we loved to travel. and i wanted to get him a nice gift, maybe a watch. (gifts was definitely his primary love language). i just couldn't wait to see how happy it would all make him. how thankful he'd be for life. a beautiful, joyful, and love-filled life.
Jarronn and i met when he was 24, so the first birthday i celebrated with him was his 25th. my co-worker tamika and i treated him to dinner (one of our group's rituals) at macaroni grill, one of his favorite restaurants, where he always ordered chicken rustica -- and he'd make sure to pronounce it with his version of an italian accent. (he later learned how to replicate the dish at home -- lucky me!)
he also celebrated by throwing a "quarter-century party" with our friend and fellow j&j-er vincent at ida mae's in nyc. he had a great time. and perhaps a bit too much to drink. when i spoke to him the next day, he asked me if i had made it to the party (he confessed months later that he knew i was there but was playing it cool). i reminded him that he introduced me to one of his friends as "his future wife." it was one of many inside jokes we had. but it's funny how things turned out. he'd later make jokes about being a prophet who claimed me and spoke it into existence.
there are special memories from all of the birthdays that followed. on his 26th, i told him i loved him. on his 27th, i gave him his favorite tie and cuff links. on his 28th, i mailed him a can of cashews while he was away on a ski trip, and he called to say, "girl, you must really love your man!" and on his 29th, we kept it low key as we were saving for our wedding. just church, family and homemade carrot cake with cream cheese icing (his favorite).
today is tough. surprisingly so. tougher than thanksgiving or christmas or valentine's day -- those seemed like any other day. but today is the day to celebrate Jarronn. it's his special day. and i so wish i could see his reaction to all of the amazing emails, cards, messages, wall posts, and calls so many of you have sent in the seven months since he passed.
two weeks before he died, i was working on a birthday celebration for one of my close friends. she was turning 28, and a group of us decided to put together a bunch of things in her honor -- a surprise luncheon, a slideshow with comments from friends, a scrapbook, gifts, a night out, etc. i admittedly remember being tired in the week leading up to the weekend of events and saying to Jarronn, "we're doing a whole lot of stuff, and it's not even a milestone birthday. maybe we should be waiting for her to turn 30." about two hours later, Jarronn was washing dishes, and i was watching tv on the couch. he called out to me and said, "you know, i was thinking about what you said earlier. about it not being a milestone birthday. but really, i think it's good that you guys are doing this now. because even though it's not a milestone, you never know what life might be like when she actually does turn 30. people might be in different places or different stages of life. it might not be possible to do something like this then. so it's good that you're doing it now."
i looked at my wise and amazing husband and said, "you're right, boo."
happy 30th birthday, Jarronn. thank you for changing my life, simply by living yours.