Recently we went to a party to celebrate a friend’s last birthday. He had been given a grim cancer prognosis, but it was his birthday and he was going to celebrate it. He knew, we all knew, it would be his last.
“Bulldog” is a fiercely cool man that loves life. He has a booming voice, ferocious humor and soft brown eyes. He is the father of my husband’s best friend. Everyone loves him.
His guest list reflected his exuberant spirit. The party was packed with people from all walks of life — young, old, distinguished, and colorful. With grandkids clinging to his legs, he worked the room, taking time to talk to each guest with an unabashed realness about his disease and his gratitude at their being there. There was no falseness about the occasion, but no sadness either. Music was playing, people were eating and drinking, and kids were adding their characteristic life to the room. It was a poignant evening
I wish I could say I looked around and took stock of my own loved ones, imagining my own last birthday party and who would be there. But the party didn’t leave me waxing philosophic. I felt dark and tired. Bulldog claimed he was okay with dying because he was so happy to have lived. And that is what makes Bulldog so special.
As I sat down to write this post, I’ve been trying to think of words that lend inspiration aftter such a meaningul night. But I don’t have the grace of Randy Pausch or the eloquence of Anne Lamott. The only words I can think of are Fucking Cancer.
Besides this isn’t the Celestine Prophecy, it’s just a Small Time blog. And my own little well of self-help is running low, so trying to think about who would surround me at my own last birthday party, well…I just can’t go there right now.
But I’ll tell you what I can do. Rather than fill my soul with the meaning of life, I’m just going to purge it of the little grudges that sully my karma. There is a list of people who WON’T be invited to my last birthday party and I get a little comfort in thinking about that. It gives me the space to take a big breath. And really, isn’t life all about breathing?
Anyway, here’s my list today:
People Not Invited to my Last Brithday Party.
1. All of my ex-boyfriends who broke up with me unless they are willing to discuss the absolute tragic turn their lives took without me, in which case, they can come early. It will be lovely to see them again.
2. Uber competitive parents who compete through the achievements and popularity of their children. The strife you people cause makes you tiring and unworthy as guests. Plus I have a strict rule at the door: no one allowed who is uber at anything.
3. Women who are so uptight about their weight that they just can’t let it go for one night. You cannot come to my party because there will be lots of cake and I will be licking butter cream frosting off my bloated fingers.
4. My OB/Gyn who told me I did not need to be tested for a thyroid problem, that I just needed to go to Weight Watchers. “Portion control” she said as she poked around coldly. Sorry you are not invited, I guess I will just have to eat your controlled portion of cake.
5. Social climbers –although that shouldn’t be a problem because they climbed over me a long time ago.
6. The parent who mocked me for bringing a booster seat on my daughter’s field trip. This mother of three kept making fun of my taking such care with my first-born. Gee, I guess if I had that “special wisdom” that comes from having a third child, I would understand the value in letting your child fly headfirst though the windshield upon impact. You must stay home and read a parenting book.
7. Husbands who think staying at home with kids is the easy life. Your wives will be at the party having fun — but you, you must stay home and watch the kids, feed the kids, bathe the kids, put the kids to bed AND! load the dishwasher, finish the laundry, schedule the doctor’s appointments, pay the bills and clean the toilets. Enjoy.
8. Politically and religiously intolerant people. Your presence will not be tolerated.
9. Judge-y moms who proudly denounce TV and video games while they manage their staff of babysitters. We TV-and-video-game permitting moms are so on to you.
10. Perfect people who can’t admit a weakness or own up to a bad day. Life is so much fuller when you can see the many sides of it. I plan on celebrating it all: the good, the bad and the ugly.
That’s it. I’m going to keep it to a nice even list of ten. Now I’m going to take a deep breath and say another prayer for Bulldog.