Wow, what a birthday celebration we held for Chris. What an amazing day!
It started pretty rocky, I was feeling low just waking up. My heart was heavy and my eyes were tearful. I had such mixed emotions about Chris missing his eighteenth birthday. I so desperately wanted him here and it saddened me to think I'd spend the day without him.
I wished so much that I could have gone into his room early in the morning to shake his arm gently and say happy birthday, instead I stroked my hand over the smooth marble of his SHEN green urn. Not nearly what I wanted to do but I'm thankful Chris was in his room on his special day.
There was a mass at Corpus Christi early Wednesday morning and it was offered in Chris's honor. That was very special. I liked hearing his name mentioned with loving care by the priest. I spoke with several people afterwards who offered condolences and stories which were soothing. I find people so compassionate. They say the kindest words to me.
In the evening we held a Chinese lantern liftoff on the SHEN football field; eighteen glowing mini hot air balloons dotting the sky like golden stars.
I had had a brief chat with Chris in the early afternoon when I went out to feed the birds in the yard... the wind was blowing just a bit too much for my comfort. I knew the lanterns would do best in calm weather so I spoke out loud to Chris; "cut the nonsense, you know this won't work in the wind!"
Ever the jokester, he did not eliminate the blowing, although in my opinion it wasn't terribly chilly. Everyone's attempts to light the lanterns fell short. The flame wouldn't stay lit long enough to light the fuel cells. As might be the case with Chris, looking for that one more football play, he caused us to huddle together - in eighteen small groups on the field! He wasn't helping us along to make this even go as smoothly as I had created in my mind. Here I'm assuming it would go smooth as silk and all eighteen lanterns would be released at once.
Nope... as we all huddled in our groups blocking the wind to light the flames, each one was ready to go at a different time. Chris stretched this celebration out. Each lantern in its own time so there was a steady stream of lights to watch. He even got one caught in the treetop and we all held our breath until the flame went out. The Superintendent, Dr. Robinson wondered how he'd explain the charred tree had Chris opted to do more than tease us. Luckily the flame faded, but the lantern was still left dangling! OK, so he didn't do it exactly to my specifications but to his instead. It worked. I can be adaptable! I sent up my personal prayers and happy birthday wishes to my son and I'll bet so did many of the others on the field. It was wonderful.
The gathering continued at Buffalo Wild Wings with a large party of friends and family, not to mention the football team and coaches. The poor staff couldn't put the food out fast enough! Here's hoping everyone got at least one wing... football players are hungry even in the off season!
SHEN athletics had a STEWART 69 jersey made in Chris's honor and gave it to the manager at the restaurant. They're going to hang it on the wall! When you go to Buffalo Wild Wings be sure to look up and find it resting in its new spot. How exciting in my opinion :-) When would I ever think my son’s football jersey would adorn a local restaurant? Ahhh, that would be… Never!
Chris's eighteenth birthday turned out to be really fabulous, much better end than start for me. I'm glad for all the inspirational words given to me and for having the time to visit and spend time together. The evening never would have happened had Chris been here. This would not have been the celebration it was. I'm so happy it turned out so well and I thank everyone for sharing time together and with me to make Christopher's birthday a special one to remember.
Thank you for reading.