My First Birthday
I dreaded my first birthday without Reg. My birthday is in the summer, and I always like to hike on that day. Reg was usually my companion for those hikes and often took a vacation day from work, so he could be with me. On one birthday, he surprised me with a trip to Aspen and on another birthday, he surprised me with a trip to Telluride. One year, I had my 40th birthday the day after he started chemotherapy, so he didn’t have the energy to hike. But, we went to the mountains anyway and stayed at a friend’s condominium. Two friends met me in the mountains, and we hiked. When I returned to the condominium, Reg had decorated it with happy birthday banners. I was so thrilled! He had gone to the local market and picked up a yummy birthday dinner and even vegan birthday cake, which was so surprising. I never thought anywhere in this mountain town would sell vegan cake! He sang “Happy Birthday” to me and lit candles on the cake. Even when he didn’t feel well, he still made my birthday a big deal.
Knowing my first birthday without him would likely be challenging, I tried to arrange to have the day set. I asked my widower friend Laurence to hike with me. I had spent the day with him on his first birthday without his wife, so I figured he’d understand how challenging that first birthday was. Laurence agreed to hike with me, so I assumed he would schedule the entire day. I assumed he would know that a hike is an all-day experience. In retrospect, I realize I should have communicated to Laurence that a hike meant an all-day experience. I learned later that Laurence often overcommitted to people and had difficulty managing his time. However, at the time I didn’t know that.
The night before my birthday, when we discussed where we would hike, he told me he’d only set aside two hours to hike with me. That is not a hike. That isn’t even enough time to drive to hiking trails from Denver. I felt absolutely devastated that he bailed out on me. I realize now that he didn’t mean to abandon me on my birthday. But at the time, I was distraught and heartbroken. It made me miss Reg even more. Reg made me the center of his attention on that day. If I wanted to hike, he took the day off to hike. He didn’t squeeze me into his schedule.
Now, however, I was being squeezed into someone’s (Laurence’s) schedule. I was no longer the center of attention on that day. I felt absolutely devastated. My mom had injured her knee, so she could barely walk, let alone hike. Thankfully, an acquaintance didn’t have plans that day, so at the last minute, she agreed to go with me. I was so thankful to her. Of course, I hated that I had to be thankful to her. Reg should have been there!
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