Miracle challenge week 5, number 4 – a story featuring the words ‘negative thoughts’
“Life should not only be lived. It should be celebrated…” And birthdays are always a great way to start a celebration. I can remember my 21st birthday just like it was yesterday, although it was just a tad over 30 years ago. I chose to have a fancy dress to celebrate this milestone birthday. I’ve had a fear of or rather a dislike for clowns since I was young having been traumatised as a young child being chased by one. Not sure why I chose to dress up as one on this special occasion. I also wore a weird jacket I bought from a local ‘op shop’ with a wooden parrot stitched into the shoulder just like a pirate.
Pete dressed up in a light blue/greyish suit with a Karate Kid bandana around his head. That was the night he talked to my dad about his intentions of asking me to marry him. My mum and dad gave me a photo album to fill with lots of memories of that night. You can never get enough photos (according to me). I made the decision long ago that I would take lots and lots of photos throughout my life and I will continue to do so. As I looked back at photos of when I was young and pointed out to my dad and asked ‘why was there more photos of Trish and Stephen than me?’ He said that when I was born the slide projector had just come in vogue so I had more of those little square photos that looked like a negative that you held up to the light to capture my early years. So I was on a mission to capture every moment.
Amy also celebrated her reaching 21 with a fancy dress party. An 80’s party for after all she was an 80’s baby. Rachel celebrated hers at a local club which saw her dad Pete get kicked out of the private function for accidentally smashing a wine glass on the table by knocking it over, with the staff saying he’s had too much to drink. Rach too was warned to stop drinking. It was a private function, separate from the rest of the public so what harm were we doing – just enjoying ourselves with family and friends. Ben didn’t want a party. We celebrated his 21st with a cake while on a weekend getaway at one of our favourite coastal retreats. His monetary present helped pay for uni games which seemed more important than a party at that time.
Jacob had plans for his own 21st too. To travel with his best friend Chris to America and travel down ‘Route 66’ and visit places like Carolina just like James Taylor visited in his mind. He never got to reach 21. He is our “forever 20” boy. In February this year I saw a physic medium and she told me she saw lots of helium 21st balloons. He wanted a party. So plans were put in action for a celebration.
It was a beautiful March night, the eve of his 21st birthday. Family and friends gathered around our backyard decorated in everything ‘Hollywood’ as he dreamed of becoming a famous cinematographer. His drink bell rang all night and every time it went off we stopped what we were doing, made sure we had a drink in hand and toasted to him. People wrote messages to him in permanent markers on his memorial table where a lonely bottle of Bundaberg Rum stood. His favourite drink for everyone to share.
Rachel bought her brother a wonderful present for his 21st. A life size cut out of Jacob to stand out larger than life at his party so his everyone could have photos with their mate on the red carpet.
Our warped sense of humour will get us through tough times and we will continue to ‘get Jacob out of his box’ to join us in all family gatherings to come. There was lots of laughter and smiles as the party kicked on. I had managed not to shed a tear up until the moment we played his dvd we made for the celebration featuring the two songs that mean so much to me now. The next lot of tears came when we were counting down the minutes to his first Heavenly birthday – his 21st. ‘5, 4, 3, 2, 1’ – Adele’s words sang out of Amy’s iPod on shuffle – “hello from the other side…” It was a message from Jacob letting us know he was here with us as we celebrate ‘him.’
As the birthday celebration came to a close I found a balloon that had escaped being drained of air from Amy and Rachel’s quest to talk in a high pitched voice. We thought that we’d let it fly free as it was the last survivor. So we ventured outside and set it free only to the disappointment of it being captured in one of our trees in our front yard. We thought it wold pop but it didn’t. It was really stuck, the only way it could escape the branches grasp was to float downwards and that defies gravity and doesn’t seem possible. But what we witnessed was nothing short of a miracle. With our own eyes saw the balloon work it’s way down out of the branches and towards the open air of a clear sunny sky. We watched it float away till we could see it no more.
While I was cleaning the house several weeks later I found a balloon from Jacob’s party. It was still blown up, just a little smaller. To our amazement it still exists today – 4 months later. It’s will power to live is phenomenal, just like Jacob’s will to live out the last months of his life to the fullest. I think the little balloon wants to hang around until all of his friends have celebrated their own 21st’s as the year progresses. It’s Jacob’s way of sending ‘happy birthday’ wishes from afar.
I found one of my 21st cards sorting out some old boxes in the cupboard and I’ll leave you this message and thoughts…”As you grow up, make sure you have –
- more dreams than memories
- more opportunity than chances
- more hard work than luck
- and more friends than acquaintances
May you have the very best in life”
My tears for Jacob are often triggered by my ‘negative thoughts’ as to why was his life cut too short? Why was he denied more birthdays? Did he have the very best in his short life? I’m never going to get more photos of him to cherish. What we’ve got that’s it. But having these thoughts doesn’t help at all. I don’t want to be a negative person. I want to be more positive, and with Jacob’s guidance I will continue to ‘smile’ – see miracles in life everyday. I hope you enjoy the photo slide show of his 21st party accompanying this blog. The first piece of music you will hear on half of the photos comes from a delightful movie called ‘The cider house rules’ and on the other photos you’ll also hear a poignant song track titled “You should be here” and so he should have been here to celebrate his 21st birthday with loved ones.