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First Birthday

Friday, March 25, 2011
I dreamed of him in the early morning hours this morning, for the first time.  I was asleep on my back and had a pillow on top of part of me.   In my dream,  I thought his knee had dropped over on me and that I was holding his knee.  The dream lasted for what seemed like five seconds before I realized that it was my pillow.  I felt very alone lying there on my back with the ceiling fan churning.  Thankfully, I was able to fall right back asleep, but then I had another dream.  This one was without him.  It was a gathering of some friends serving up a very special birthday brunch for me.  Since it was a birthday without Michael, they were trying to make it extra special.  As I was walking to the gathering of people, they were singing, Happy Birthday, to me.  At first I grabbed my stomach while I was walking to fight back the tears, but then I just doubled over with tears from deep down and began to stumble.  I awoke at that point.

Today is my birthday.... it is harder than I thought it would be. I allowed myself time to just lay in bed and feel it.  I have been getting up as soon as I wake up in the mornings, but today I just wanted to be awake in the silence and think about it.  I heard my son turn off the house security alarm and slip outside to walk the dogs. My heart began to miss Michael in a heavy, deep, longing way. I began to cry and catch my breath, like little children do after they have had a hard cry. The photo you see to your right under, "About Me", was my favorite place to be.  In his arms, with my head leaning on his chest.  It was a very safe place.  I miss my soul mate.

 In our home, we have always had the tradition of birthday breakfasts.  I would cook whatever special breakfast was requested by the birthday person.  I would stay up the night before to set the table then place all of the wrapped presents in the middle of the table like a flamboyant centerpiece.  They would come in the kitchen in the morning and it would feel like Christmas. Michael always made sure that it was done equally for me on my birthday.  Last year he made organic spelt flour blueberry scones.  He had never baked anything before but had researched a recipe online and was so excited to make something that he knew I would love. They were fabulous and, of course, there were lots of presents.

We had another tradition for lunch.  We would always meet together at Brent's Drug Store to eat in their Soda Fountain diner area. Michael would drive there from work to join us.  Everyone ordered hamburgers with cokes or milk shakes and I always ordered a tuna melt or an egg and olive sandwich... you have to experience it to know how good it really is!  I always allow the children to "skip" school on their birthdays, which makes it even more special.  Today for lunch we are changing everything.  A group of some friends of mine are taking me to lunch, Mia has a college Algebra class and a haircut, Julia is eating lunch with my brother, and Michael Anthony is eating lunch with our Youth Pastor.  My friends are taking me to a restaurant that had been my and Michael's favorite for about the last 20 years.  I knew I would have to go again some day.  I thought it would be best to experience it for the first time without him at lunch, instead of dinner, and with a group of friends celebrating.  We always had the same waitress, and I am sure she will be waiting on us today.... sweet, funny, and fabulous Janice.

As I type this post, I hear all of my children working together downstairs in the kitchen to cook my birthday breakfast. They have each peeked their head in on me, at different times, to give me a hug and a sweet birthday wish.  Breakfast will be hard and beautiful all at the same time.  Hard, because Michael will not be sitting across from me, encouraging me and looking at me with "that look" that he had been giving me since we met. (My 25 year old neice said, that if she was ever in the room when he gave me that look, with our eyes engaged, she would feel like she was interrupting something.) It will be beautiful to watch the children try will all that they have to make it special for me.  The girls asked me earlier this week what I wanted for breakfast. I told them waffles...I love pure maple syrup.  I can smell the waffles cooking.... they are using freshly ground spelt flour! They are amazing children and I am so proud to say they are mine.  God has their precious hearts in the palm of His hand.

My first birthday..... without Michael.  I awoke feeling alone and heart broken, but am encouraged with the sounds of my children, the smell of love cooking, and the hope of Christ.


Anonymous Says:
March 25, 2011 at 8:46 AM

Happy Birthday dear sweet lady!!!!!

Michael's legacy was to love and invest in people.... which is the only thing that we can ever take with us to Heaven. He took his faith that step further. He trusted what God had instructed and took his faith passed the doors of the church and into everything he did. That's where many of us Christians fall short...(not even a mustard seed's worth.)

It's becoming more apparent that part of your legacy will be to continue to bring those that read your postings here to a closer relationship and daily walk with God.

Thank you for your leadership and sharing.

In His Grip


Laura Says:
March 25, 2011 at 9:58 AM

My birthday was yesterday, and I thought of you often, knowing how hard your first birthday without your husband would be (my father died when I was 15, and that first year of firsts was so difficult!). But, I had no idea it was today. Know you are being lifted up today and always by loving sisters in Christ whom you have never even met! In Him, Laura Barbour

Anonymous Says:
March 25, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Happy Birthday Jene!

Praying for you today! Love you! Page

Anonymous Says:
March 25, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Happy Birthday,Jene'! Waffles and maple syrup- that sounds like a yummy breakfast! Your kids are sweet to their mommy! I cried over your last 3 blogs. But I am encouraged by your faith and the hope I hear in your "voice". I know that comes from the Lord. God Bless you on your birthday! Keren C

Anonymous Says:
March 25, 2011 at 1:48 PM

Dear Jene' -May this "first" birthday be a blessed one, and may you feel spoiled by all the people who love you and surround you on this day. Wish we could be there to help you make new memories! Thought about you a lot today. So proud to hear about how the kids are starting your day in a special way. Love you lots. Hilmari, Kyle, B, C and D xoxoxo

Anonymous Says:
March 25, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Hello special lady from your old friends here in Highland, IL.
We were devistated when we heard the news about Michael. I so wanted to be able to come down there but that wasn't possible with my work. I was glad that one of my brothers (Ken & his wife Dana) and one of my sisters (Julie) was able to come see you and the rest of your loving family. You and your family hold a VERY special place in my heart! I so remember playing hide and seek there at the Congregational Church when your dad was our pastor. Then there were the camping trips our families took together. Those were great times!
I never met your loving husband Michael but I can tell you that through your blog here and from what my sister and brother told me from when they were down there, Michael was not only a great man, but a great man of God. You are truly blessed Nae! Reading all your wonderful stories about Micheal makes me think how awesome it will be when we are with our loved ones up in Heaven! What a day of rejoicing that will be....!
Just know that we are praying for you and your kids here in good old Highland, IL!

Happy Birthday and enjoy those waffles and those magnificant kids of yours!

We love you Nae!!
Curt, Lorinda, Tera, Cassidy and Chad Barker

Anonymous Says:
March 26, 2011 at 5:59 AM

Birthday blessings to you as I know God will coninue to hold you and yours in the hollow of His strong Right Hand.

kim Says:
March 26, 2011 at 8:39 AM

My sweet daddys birthday is march 25 also. Two godly people, special people share the same day. I cant imagine how hard it would be , your Year of firsts blog really hits home today. i guess everyday is a first.
Happy birthday sweet jene. I wish you the best. He will carry you thru this, courage, courage, courage. what a cross to bear. Michael is witnessing today thru you. I pulled up a you tube video of him talking about dancing rabbit. My mind went back to listening to him sing a Jim Roachs funeral. He is seeing abraham, jacob and isaac. just like he sang about. "But i said, I want to see Jesus" one of my all time favorite songs. He is still here in spirit. thanks for letting us see the michael you knew.
love always, peace to you. In Him, Kim Spring

Anonymous Says:
March 28, 2011 at 8:48 AM

i am a friend of peter and nanette slover. i am so very sorry that you will have to celebrate your birthday without your precious husband. my prayers are with you
much love,
lisa goff

The Nelsons Says:
March 28, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Happy belated birthday Jene!
I am so blessed to know you and also to have had the opportunity to know Michael. I did not get many chances to be around you two together but I could definitely feel the love and deep devotion you two shared. Your words are such a beautiful expression of emotion and God's healing touch most of all. Reed and I think of you and pray for you DAILY.
Love you!

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