Tonight I get to set an extra seat at the table to celebrate you.
I’ve been trying to decide what to get for dinner for weeks now and have it narrowed down, but am still having a hard time picking just one thing.
Should I pick up sushi, grill a juicy steak or jump straight to endless fondue for dessert in a makeshift chocolate fountain that you’ll no doubt get everywhere?
I know you’re probably laughing at my indecisiveness and would tell me anything I came up with is fine.
I’ll pour a glass of wine for each of us as memories are reminisced from elementary school through high school.
Remember when we went to Philadelphia for our big fifth-grade field trip and you made it your goal to impersonate as many presidents as possible in the Hall of Presidents?
You had me crying with laughter.
I couldn’t believe you studied so much just for something so silly.
Or when we both tried Philly cheesesteaks for the first time that same trip and laughed at how much cheese oozed out of the bread that couldn’t hold all the meat the vendor slabbed on?
Fast forward to middle school when we both had an extra period and took a class called Aquahavens.
We thought we’d be sitting in a classroom learning about ocean life for a full year.
Instead, the class turned out to be taking care of the school fish tanks around our middle school.
Who would’ve thought?
Somehow we fooled the teachers into thinking that it was a smart idea to have us be year-long partners.
And not only that, but they thought we were responsible enough to take care of the largest tanks with the most fish in the front office.
Too bad we accidentally messed up the pH readings one day and killed three.
But then you had the brilliant idea to have fish funerals at the dumpster outside behind the school.
Your acting skills proved vital again as you put on your best priest impression.
I think that’s the only time I’ll ever find it OK to laugh at a funeral.
Tonight I’ll recount the countless birthday parties of mine you came to and how I was always secretly excited to open your present out of all my friends the most.
You always bought me the coolest clothes or made me the neatest gifts.
I even have a personalized chalkboard hanging in my Banner office now that Connie made.
And here’s where I’ll pour some more wine probably because I said your name.
I know you have free reign to see everyone you want to see today and can do more on this birthday of yours than most others, especially most recent ones.
Because this is the second time March 5 has come around on the calendar and I don’t get to call you or physically celebrate with you.
I only get to reminisce every childhood memory I have with one of my dearest and best friends who I now get the honor of having as a guardian angel.
I never knew the smile you had acting out George Washington or trying to save your cheesesteak would mean so much to me.
I never knew how much you standing on a wooden step stool at a middle school dumpster preaching about a goldfish named Conner would mean so much to me.
Somehow, that smile never left your face in your seven-year battle with cancer.
You always made time for me, even on your worst and most painful days, with a smile on your face.
I hope you can stop by your spot at my table tonight to make a little time again, because you taught me to never take time with anyone for granted, and I sure do miss you.