My Friend John Should Be Turning 50 Today

He wouldn’t want a fuss. He didn’t liked being fussed over. More than likely, he’d want solitude and not be particularly thrilled to turn 50. He would definitely not want to me to write (another) blog post about him.

“You have to move on, Susie,” he would admonish me. “Stop living in the past.”

Past birthdays would include a funny card, a special lunch or dinner and a gift of some type. Man, was he hard to shop for. Except that he wasn’t because he always appreciated everything and immediately told me that I shouldn’t spend money on him.

If he was turning 50 while still here, I’m positive his sister Sherry aka The Contessa would be organizing a birthday party with his nieces and nephew, his great-niece and great-nephews and his friends and extended family. He would hate/love it.

He died at the age of 41 in November 2007. And I try to write a blog post each year on his birthday and the anniversary of his death.

Because I know that I’m forgetting things. Nine years starts to erase things from my mind. I forget the name of ‘our’ Chinese restaurant. I forget which Paula Abdul song was his favorite. I forget why we drifted apart. I forget how comfortable it was when we drifted back together. I forget how he liked his sushi and if he preferred Diet Coke to Diet Pepsi.

There are plenty of things I don’t forget. I remember his voice and the way he cocked his head when he was teasing me (or anyone.) I remember him throwing down some serious moves while shrieking along to “Everybody Dance Now.” I remember the first time we met, in the front yards of our parent’s homes. I remember that he always came – when I was scared, sad, lonely, afraid, happy or anything – he always showed up and I always felt better for it.

Nine years after his death, I still run into people who knew him. They always smile and they always have a story about him. It reminds me that he lives on in the hearts of the many, many people who knew him. He lives on in the laughter and smiles of three great-niblings (the gender neutral word for nieces and nephews) who will know his story. His many stories.

So I’m gonna take a deep breath and go about my day with this mixture of sadness and love in my heart. There’s no great lesson to be had today beyond being grateful that he was part of my life.

Happy Birthday, John.


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