Today is Rochelle's birthday. Once upon a time it was one of my favorite days of the year. Now it's a bittersweet day full of tears and just the memories of celebrations past.
In 2009, on the first of Rochelle's birthdays after she passed away, Shauna and I had a virtual best friends date across the miles. We picked a movie that was a little lighthearted, and one that Rochelle would have wanted to see (My Life in Ruins). Then, at approximately the same time - our time zones are two hours apart - we went to the movie. Since mine was the later start, as soon as I got out of the theater, I called Shauna. We laughed, we cried, and then we cried some more. It was a day of survival, more than celebration. Our grief was still too fresh during that year of firsts to feel much of anything but pain that day.
The next year, feeling a little stronger, I had started running, and in honor of my best friend, I ran the 5K Starlight run on her birthday. The Starlight run is a race along the parade route right before the nighttime parade that is one of the signature events of Portland's Rose Festival. Back in 1986, Rochelle, Shauna, and I were all part of the marching band and we'd come to Portland and performed in that parade. I wore a birthday cake tiara, shorts honoring my high school alma mater and professing my band nerd status, and a shirt honoring Rochelle as well. After the run, we watched some of the parade then went out to eat and drink with some of my closest friends and my mom. It was a good way to celebrate Rochelle that year!
Last year was a quieter, more subdued celebration. I was in California, not far from where Rochelle lived until she was 8 or so. My nephew's birthday is the day before Rochelle's, so I was celebrating with him. For his day, we had a lot of cupcakes and a party at a gymnastics center. The next day, Rochelle's birthday, we went to see the Giants game and spent some time in San Francisco. It was a fun day, and spending time with my brother and family was wonderful. I think Rochelle would have been happy to see that day.
This year has been rough on me emotionally, with new grief coming my way and relationship challenges with various people in my life. My support team has also shrunk a little. One of my best friends, someone who has been a part of my life for years, isn't able to be there for me this time around. So that sucks. For Rochelle's birthday, I don't have anything in particular planned. Well that's not entirely true. I have a bag of orange slices (her favorite candy) and ice cream. I have copies of Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias, Top Gun, and Beaches (some of our favorite movies). I have a playlist set up with the songs of our friendship (everything from ABBA to Madonna to Enya). Anyone want to join me for a sentimental movie fest and sugar high? Bonus points if you can sing every song of the soundtracks to those movies. I hate to sing alone.
Happy birthday my dear friend Rochelle. I miss you more than I can ever say. You will always be my very best friend.