My view of the world through words & photos
I spent my 50th birthday with family, just not in the way I had been planning for so many months. These are the thoughts and memories I recorded as I reflected on the weekend at the end of my birthday. (The delay in posting was caused by my need to allow some time to pass between writing and sharing.)
Today I’m 50. I just spent an amazing weekend with Beka, Ben and my cousin Laurie. [My cousins Laurie, Ruth and I are what I refer to as “Triplet Cousins” since we were born within four months of each other.]
Just over a year ago, I was visiting the cousins and we decided to do something special for our 50th birthdays. The original plan had been a long weekend in a place like Las Vegas since none of us had been there. Bill’s death changed those plans. Laurie came up with the idea for us to meet up in Chicago so Ben and Beka could be with us to celebrate.
We started off my birthday weekend celebration with high tea at The Drake Hotel. I highly recommend this. So many countries have this custom of taking a midday break of some sort. Not a rushed run to the vending machine, but a real break to rest, visit and recharge. We were surrounded by a lovely room, beautiful music from a very talented harpist and a wide variety of people. [And I do love people watching.]
to The Drake taking in some of
Chicago’s great architectural
sights, so on the way back we
checked out the city lights and
[We also made a stop at Gino’s East
for some great deep dish.]
After my new style of on and off sleep I was rested enough to take in the Shedd Aquarium where we met up with Ben. While it had only been a month since I saw him, it seemed like it had been much longer when I spotted him in the aquarium’s lobby. I resisted the urge to run up to him while shouting, “I missed you so much.” My kids feel I plan out how many ways to embarrass them in public, but I really don’t. I just enjoy sharing my joy…and if it happens to occur in public and the kids are embarrassed, oh, well.
Lunch was at another traditional location – the Walnut Room in the former Marshall Field’s store. Macy’s may own it now, but the powers that be were very wise to maintain some of the store’s history and architecture. Ben had to head back to campus but promised to meet us for dinner at a restaurant of his choice later. We girls headed downstairs to a teen event which included pampering stations like a Braid Bar. It was impressive to see how quickly the braiding specialist took Beka’s wavy locks from a loose style to a beautiful braided style.
After giving up on Chicago’s Festival of Light Parade because the side roads leading to the parade route on Michigan Avenue were packed nearly a half a block deep with people, we did a little more shopping and then headed to the restaurant for dinner. The original plan was to have dinner at a fancy restaurant (Shaw’s Crab House), but we couldn’t get a table until my usual bedtime. The option was to have dinner at Shaw’s oyster bar, which was like a casual neighborhood restaurant. Same food with a light and fun atmosphere equaled a wonderful dinner and evening!
Started off my birthday with Mass at Loyola University and then lunch at a local sandwich shop across from the campus. [You may have spotted a thread running through this post – food, food and more food. If you appreciate good food Chicago is one of the best places for you to go. While we stayed fairly American in our selections this weekend, you can find just about any type of food from any part of the world in Chicago. A friend of mine once said, “Name a country and I can find you a place to eat here.”]
Five hours on the train and we were back in St. Louis, exhausted but very happy.
Throughout the day of my birthday, I kept getting messages from friends and family. While I ache for the absence of Bill on this special day, I am so blessed to have so many people sending me their love and good wishes. This is the first of major celebration since Bill died and it was incredibly hard at times. That hole in my heart is still large with very raw edges. I desperately want to feel his hand in mine and his arms around me while I hear him whisper how much he loves me. I’ve had to stop several times while writing this because I couldn’t see the words and paper for the tears building up in my eyes.
They say that the raw wound will heal and be less ragged and sharp as time goes on…but that seems light years away at this point.
I know I wouldn’t have done as well as I have without the constant support and words of love and support from my friends and family. Most importantly, this all would have been impossible without Ben and Beka. They are the reason I get out of bed in the morning, eat on a regular basis and function each day. They remind me of all the wonderful qualities of their dad – love, persistence, patience, kindness, compassion and respect.