Today is Brother's birthday.
Last night, 12 of his best friends- 16 of us in total- joined Brother and SIL for a feast of lobster and steak. The crowd was loud and jovial, each raising a glass to each other in the name of my brother. My hero. As the glasses clinked, the alcohol flowed- the conversation lightened and the laughs grew louder. Questions were passed back and forth from table to table about dreams and best birthdays. A lot of husbands said they'd have sex. A lot of wives said they'd rather go shopping with someone else's credit card. People walked by and stopped to congratulate Brother on another birthday.
The laughs rippled through the club and I watched the waitstaff watch us from behind the corners. I saw those that were older than us peer in our corner-- and they were all doing the most wonderful thing- smiling. I saw them make that unnoticeable head nod with a blink on their eyes as they smiled a grateful and happy smile for this man, my brother.
We have been graced by the Good Lord to have him on this earth for almost two years since his stroke. As I watched his friends and those strangers, I think we were all sharing that same thought- Thank You, God. Thank You for another turn around the sun.
When the food was served, Susan said we need to raise a glass.
A clink of her glass and I stand, because who am I to ever miss an opportunity to speak? Besides- I was the only one not drinking, being both pregnant and the designated driver.
"I want to take a quick moment and thank everyone for coming. Thank you SIL for organizing and thank the Sweet Lord for my amazing brother. Let's raise our glass to him. Now, let's bow our heads--"
Thank you Lord for letting us come together as family and friends. And we know that it is because of you that friends are the family we choose. We ask that you Bless us, Oh Lord, in these Thy Gifts which we are about to receive, from Thy Bounty- through Christ- Our Lord. Amen.It was one of those moments that I did not care how tired I was, or that the whatever-the-heck-virgin drink I ordered was so sugary that I got the shakes. I was here, with him. His mood was light; his happiness evident.
It's been hard moving home. Making headway into the city, reconnecting with people I once knew and turning strangers into friends. The house has been a project. Husband's work is hard. These are all such little things compared to having him in my life. A year ago, I was overwhelmed at the prospect of moving home, overwhelmed at leaving the city I had fallen so deeply in love with. As I sat last night, I knew that why we had moved home was so very right. For him. For his wife. For his son and his daughter.
For this birthday we are celebrating and all the other birthdays we will be lucky enough to have together.
As we sang Happy Birthday in what was supposed to be Italian- but we think it was more gibberish- a friend who has known him since high school gleefully threw her hands in the air, almost tipped over her wine and said, "To 36 more!"
I think we all knew what she meant. To 36 more.