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My Birthday Last Year... 2007... Snow Canyon
I know I have used this photo before, BUT... it is one of the better photos of our family in the last year.
Last year, I turned 30 years old, so Aaron surprised me with a trip down to St. George, Utah. We stayed in an amazing place and we went mountain biking in Snow Canyon. We took Aaron Jr. with us and he loved riding in the bike trailer and watching the scenery. It was so much fun and it was a birthday I will never forget.
Well, this year's birthday was my first birthday since Aaron passed away. An interesting tidbit of information: Three months since Aaron passed away would have fallen on my birthday if it hadn't been leap year this year. But because it was leap year, there was a February 29th, so 'three months' fell on that. My birthday was the next day on March 1st. It wouldn't have been the end of the world if 'three months' had fallen on my birthday, but when I realized that was going to happen, I was glad.
Back to my birthday... earlier in the month of February, my friends and I had decided to get together for another 'girls overnighter' at my friend's cabin in Heber. It just so happened that the best weekend for it was going to fall on the weekend of February 29th / March 1st... so I was happy that it was going to happen over my birthday. I knew it was going to be a hard day anyway and this was going to be a great way to try to be distracted. Well, the day of the overnighter came and my friend, Marilee, whose cabin we were using called and said she was sick, so the plans were going to have to be cancelled. I felt really bad that she was sick, but after I got off the phone, I was just a little sick myself thinking about the whole weekend being cancelled. I just knew this was something that I needed to have happen. So, after calling a few friends regarding the situation, we all started searching for another place to go.
We came up empty handed... I was actually freaking out a little bit inside just worrying about the feelings of loneliness that were approaching. Well, an idea popped into my mind... there was a bed and breakfast in Salt Lake that Aaron and I had stayed in before and I thought about the room we stayed in and knew it would be perfect for us friends. So, I called the bed and breakfast to see if the third floor room was available and how much it would cost. I talked to the owner and told her the situation and that we had stayed there a little over five years ago. I told her why we needed a place and why it was so important to me this particular year. I asked her about the third floor (it has a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room area) to see if it was available that night. There were now 5 of us going and that would be perfect to split the cost. So, I called all of my friends who were supposed to go and they all said that was fine and it was back on. I was so relieved.
So, Me, Kerianne, Amy, Kaylynn, and Carrie all went to dinner at The Olive Garden and then we went to the bed and breakfast to spend the rest of the evening.
Kaylynn had made a cake for my birthday, so they sang to me and I made a wish and I blew out the candles. After that, we ate snacks, played a game, and we talked into the night. It was so much fun and I am SO grateful that we could still get together for the overnighter. Marilee was missed, but we will all have to try to do it again sometime soon.
The next day, we went down for breakfast and the two ladies running the place were so gracious. They seemed to love having us there. They had prepared a nice breakfast of fruit and waffles and orange juice for us. One of the ladies is a painter and her paintings are up all over the house. She has some packs of greeting cards for sale there and when Aaron and I stayed there, he bought me a pack of cards that had a lighthouse painted on it. That morning, I noticed the same Lighthouse scene was still for sale there, so I asked her if I could buy one. She GAVE it to me for my birthday. It is a sweet reminder of the time Aaron and I went there together.
Kaylynn, Amy, Leslie, Kerianne, Carrie
After breakfast, we went back upstairs, talked a little more, and got ready to go. From there, Kaylynn, Amy, and Carrie had to go home, but Kerianne and I had time to go shopping in Park City at the outlets. So, Kerianne took me to lunch and then we went shopping. We found a few good deals and were excited.
On our way home from Park City, it was snowing and Kerianne happened to miss a turnoff, so it took us through Salt Lake and we happened to be driving past the street where we could turn and be at the Salt Lake Cemetery in a matter of one minute... so I asked Kerianne if she had time for us to stop there. It seemed like a tender mercy from Heavenly Father that we happened to take a turn that led us past it. I had wanted to visit the day before, but it was so busy. So, it couldn't have been a better day for me to go... on my birthday. I got out of the car and as I approached Aaron's site, the snow had melted and for the first time, I could see the square where there was just dirt still. Since it is winter, they hadn't planted grass yet. It was very strange. I broke down and started sobbing because seeing the square area of dirt made me realize how recent Aaron's passing was. It made it still seem so very close and recent. It was very difficult to see that, but I liked being there. I miss Aaron so much.
Anyhow, after we got back to Bountiful, I got my car and headed up to Aaron's parent's house to pick up Aaron Jr. They had taken him for the night. When I got there, Aaron's Dad opened the door and I saw some decorations hanging up throughout the house. It still didn't click though and I continued to walk in and try to find Aaron Jr. Well, all of a sudden, Aaron's family (everyone who could be there) jumped out and screamed 'Surprise' or 'Happy Birthday' or both... I can't remember because I just was completely shocked. I couldn't believe what was happening.
Kerianne had been in on it and was under instruction not to bring me back until a certain time. She played it off perfectly. I have never had a surprise party before. I threw Aaron one every year for his birthday and now I know how it feels to be surprised. It was a little strange at first being the one who they were focusing on, but I can't tell you the wave of gratitude that camed over me realizing how sweet they were to try to make my birthday extra special since Aaron isn't here. I felt loved. They lit candles on the cake and I made a wish again and blew them out.
John Wayne and Leslie
We ate dinner and I opened very sweet gifts from everyone. April and Dave and Suzy, who live out of town, even got their gift to me in the mail on time. After Aaron Jr and I came back to my parents house, my parents gave me my nice gift and they sang to me.
I am so extremely grateful to everyone who made such an effort to make this birthday a special one since Aaron couldn't be there.
Once everything was over and things quieted down, I started feeling the loneliness creeping in and I was missing Aaron so very much. I will tell you all 'my wish'... my wish when I blew out both sets of candles was that I would be able to feel Aaron around me that day. It is something that I pray for all the time... I was reading on Aaron's sister Sadie's blog the other day and she had a Hopi prayer that talked about all of the beautiful things around us and seeing the person we are missing in those things. So, as I reflected back on the day, I realized that my 'wish' and my prayer had been answered. I looked back on the things I had seen that day and I looked back on the people who had made the day so special and I thought of Aaron Jr... and I realized that... Aaron was there all day.
Happy Birthday to Me.
Thank you Aaron... I love you.
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Surprise party photos courtesy of Christa. Thanks.