We held Joe's 60th birthday dinner in the hotel restaurant. I'd suggested going to his favourite restaurant chain but he said, with the assertiveness of a man of ripe age, "I want to have a drink with dinner." Joe does not drink and drive, at all, and thus the decision was made. We would dine overlooking the car park in the restaurant just off the lobby.
Friends joined us for dinner and within seconds the laughter started to flow from the table. I am afraid we did get a bit loud, maybe even raucous, and we were a bit of a disturbance to some other diners looking for a quieter evening. Both Joe and I are usually fairly sensitive to this and are usually fairly quiet and sedate in restaurants. But it was Joe's 60th and we were up for a bit of a party.
All day greetings came in for Joe over the Internet and we received several phone calls. Ruby and Sadie sang him Happy Birthday the evening before so they could be the first to serenade him with song. Right after singing the song Ruby's voice rang out, as if she was glad to get the song out of the way so she could ask her question, "Have you met the queen yet?" She was disappointed with our answer so cheered herself up by urging her sister to sing another round of Happy Birthday.
At work, a consultation/chat day, cake was served at lunch and Happy Birthday was sung again. By the time the evening came, before his first beer, Joe had been well and truly toasted - and this was simply a prelude to him becoming well and truly toasted.
Joe reminded me later that one December we found ourselves working in New York City on my birthday and we ended up with a group of friends at dinner in a restaurant just off Times Square. Like with Joe, we simply got together with people we'd worked with, come to like, and simply had fun.
On my birthday that year, I was not yet in a wheelchair.
On Joe's this year, I am an experienced chair user.
I don't want to make a post about Joe's birthday into one about me and my disability. But it's was important enough for us to talk about so it's important enough for me to write about. My first trip after becoming disabled and just learning to navigate the world in a wheelchair was here to the United Kingdom. Now we are both well versed in what it means to travel with a disability.
We both realised, as we chatted in the room, leaving behind a restaurant echoing with laughter, that we never predicted the paths that we would travel, but that we have been fortunate. We know people all over the world, we can get together for tea, for beer, for veggie burgers with folks in various cities ... we have been privileged with these opportunities. I have been especially blessed because when I sat down in the wheelchair, Joe stood up to take on new responsibilities in our relationship and in our shared life together. Because he is the man he is, we are where we are.
I am here because he is here and he is here because I am here.
No where in all the celebrations yesterday was there time for lighting a candle. No where was there time for blowing it out and wishing. But, I guess it doesn't matter, because we were where we wanted to be and we were there together.