kade’s 23rd birthday

Oh my, 23. Kade would be 23.

I had an unusually weepy build-up to his birthday the last two weeks.

I’m blaming Adele.

The soundtrack in my head this birthday season has been Adele’s “When we were Young.” It’s not only the words, which take me to the time of it being “Kade and me,” raising Kade when we were both young, but the haunting, wistful melody.

You look like a movie
You sound like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young

One morning after volunteering at Asher’s school, it was on the radio. I’m not a huge Adele fan but the lyrics sucked me in.

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized…

Right after I got home, my mom called. I took deep breaths to answer and pretend I was OK. When my “Hello” was a little off, I knew she would know. She was calling because the lead-up to Kade’s birthday was hard for her, too.

We had a really great writer’s group meeting last week. We’re in an exciting phase of reviewing members’ completed manuscripts. It was an invigorating meeting.
Didn’t matter. On my way home, on came the song and the pain washed over me with the chorus:

When we were young
when we were young
when we were young

That was the second time I called Adele a bitch. But I can’t hate anything for long that brings me closer to Kade, even the hard stuff. And since I’m not generally a crier, I took a strange bit of comfort that my tears could be evoked like that. Does that even make any sense?

Volunteering at Dumb Friends League Buddy Center yesterday was nice. Beau and Dylan came. It was wonderful to get to catch up with those two great kids. Beau is Kade’s best friend. Their bond is as solid and bold as the “Brothers Forever” on Beau’s forearm. I loved his memories of camping. He had some great stories about Kade. And with some stories, I wanted to plug my ears and go Lalalalala!

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And Dylan, he’s an all-around likable kid. I got some insight into his thoughtful world views when we talked a little politics and current events.  And there were laughs to be had when some of our end results were shaped more like bonnets and diapers than blankets.

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Aaaand then the song came on in the car on my way home. I keep a regular box of tissue in my car—I scoff at travel size. I thought, Great. I get to take Asher to one of his classmate’s birthday party with puffy eyes now. Brian would have taken him and allowed me time to decompress or finish up errands for Kade’s party, but he was sick with a bad cold.

I really didn’t want to go to a little kid’s birthday party, nestled in between my two events honoring Kade. But I had to suck it up. I knew I could do it for Asher; he was so looking forward to his buddy’s Star Wars party.

The drive and walking in went fine. I can do this. Until one of the kind moms looked me in the (puffy) eyes and asked, “How are you doing?” Tears. Damn it, Adele!

I explained that it was Kade’s birthday weekend, and that it was a hard time of year. I told the small cluster of moms about Kade’s party the next day. They were so sweet. They asked to see a picture of him. They were amazed that his friends still come to his birthday parties. I didn’t feel quite as bruised. Support can come from the darndest places.

First thing I saw on my Facebook newsfeed this morning was, “Today is Kade Tyson Riefenberg’s birthday! Wish him a happy birthday!” with his profile picture surrounded with confetti. I wished that everything about his birthday was surrounded by confetti. And I wondered if moms whose kids’ birthdays are all confetti, know how lucky they are.

We had Kade’s party today. I like that our venue and menu have worked so well in previous years that we don’t have to make many decisions to put it together.

For gift bags I ended up going with:

  • photo keychains
  • Faygo pop (his favorite soda, found at a record store in Denver he frequented)
  • Red Vines
  • beef jerkey
  • Sweedish Fish
  • purple-wrapped Hershey’s Kisses (Muah!)
  • prints of a few favorite pictures
  • a blank card asking for a memory to share with me

Things I loved about this weekend:

  • Seeing two strong young men up to their elbows in fleece kitty blankets
  • Hearing new Kade stories (well, most of them)
  • The sweet moms boosting me by letting me talk about Kade
  • Kade’s friends showing up again
  • Seeing an old friend from back in the Boy Scouts day—his first time at one of our gatherings
  • His friends wanted to do sky lanterns (sadly, we didn’t because our party was mid-day. I should have had it last night–it was a full moon!)
  • They asked if we were still whitewater rafting for the anniversary this summer
  • Craig said he already got June 29th off work
  • My best friend, Leah, being there for me today with her daughter, Katie
  • Kade’s “little sister,” Autumn, made the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Buena Vista

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“When We Were Young” by Adele

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