Today I have spent some time thinking about the different kinds of parties that our children had growing up. I think especially of Paul because today is his birthday. He always loved having his birthday on Veteran\’s Day because he always had the day off from school. We had birthday parties at home most years because he loved hanging out with his friends and playing games here.
Young Paul loved making his own cakes with me. When he was about 5 we made a rectangular cake, iced it in white, and Paul \”drew\” happy face on it with red decorative icing. Then he set 3 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles right in the cake! It was wonderful and he loved it. Another year he wanted a tiered cake, like those made for weddings. We made 3 tiers, iced them in white and he helped decorate the whole thing in green. These were such fun birthday, baking together and allowing the creative Paul to express himself.
He loved playing in the leaf piles in the backyard, jumping with his friends, cooking hotdog\’s, making hats from newspaper, paper airplanes, and playing traditional birthday party games. One year as a teenager we had an \”away\” party at a paintball park. What a fun year that was…about 10 young teenage boys playing paintball and running around like crazy! I love that he didn\’t buy into the big parties at a theme park or restaurant. He was happiest when we celebrated at home with a large group of kids, hanging out, eating, sometimes sleeping over, just being kids.
The thoughts of Paul\’s birthday parties bring back such sweet memories, as do the thoughts of all our children\’s birthday parties, but his are bittersweet memories, for you see, today he would be 24 years old. He died at 18, less than 2 months before his 19th birthday. Once again, it is the \”what could have beens\” that pain my soul and bring me to my knees as I ask \”why\”? This is a question that will never be answered here on earth. I pray that he is celebrating, maybe with other loved ones who have passed away and that he knows that we love him always.
We honor Paul\’s birthday today by giving a gift to the YMCA Urban services program, \”Escape to the Arts\” to help children experience summer camp for the arts. We hope that our gift will bring joy to other children, that they will grow up with sweet memories of being a kid and loving life!