Friday was my 30th birthday. I have been looking forward to celebrating this weekend for some time. Turning 30 is a fun milestone, and I feel lucky to have accomplished all that I have in such a short time and to be surrounded by such wonderful family and friends. For this weekend, I had planned some relaxation, a little pampering, and sangria with my friends and family. Unfortunately, the passing of a family member last week quickly changed the weekend plans. I found out Wednesday morning that my uncle had passed after a courageous battle with cancer. So Wednesday night, my family packed, hopped in the car, and drove out to NY/NJ for the funeral. Let me tell you…4 adults is a 5 seater car is always an adventure.
The boys did most of the driving/navigating (thank goodness for Garmin) and I did some reading in the backseat. Although, I mostly slept!
My mom didn’t want me to feel forgotten around my birthday so she gave me one of my Birthday presents in the car…a Romero Britto Micky Mouse keychain. You may recognize his artwork from my heart Gavitar.
We have wonderful friends and family in the NY/NJ area who are always happy to house us when we come to visit, even on short notice. Although a devastating time, it was comforting to be surrounded by family. We cried, we laughed, and we told stories sitting around the table enjoying some New York pizza and favorite desserts. I’m not sure why these black and white cookie are so hard to find in Chicago. They are my favorite!
On the morning of my birthday, I was filled with mixed emotions. It was a difficult day of grieving, but also a time for celebration. I got to use the special birthday mug for my morning tea and enjoy some New York bagels for breakfast.
I have sat in a lot of traffic in my day, but never as much as when I am in New York. And New York city evacuating for a hurricane is a whole different level. There were people selling water on the bridges as we crept along the highway. It took us over 3 hours to get back from Long Island that afternoon. Luckily, we packed some bottles of water for the hot day and found some Gardetto’s in the back to snack on.
We also had a sing-a-long to the Beatles ‘Hey Jude’ which was a nice release after a tense day.
My family is so thoughtful that they made time to sing me Happy Birthday with a carvel ice cream cake (and a guitar) that evening. This brought tears to my eyes! I have never celebrated a birthday with my family, all five of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and extended family. A sad time brought us together, but created a special birthday memory for me.
The next day, the hurricane was rolling closer and more and more people were evacuating. Not knowing exactly what that would mean for us, we packed up our car again with all of our belongings. We were in charge of replenishing supplies before heading out to my cousin’s house. What we didn’t plan for was how crazy crowded the Costco would be or how we would fit all of our provisions in our already full car.
The day began with a house full of friends and their children, leaving plenty of time for dress up. I was told that I was too big for a tiara. I believe you are never too old for a tiara.
Throughout the day, time was spent catching up with family and looking through photo albums old and new, relieving past vacations, weddings, and other family events. The weather was mostly calm until the rain began that evening. Nobody knew exactly what to expect, so 16 of us (my family, my aunt, 3 cousins, their wives and children) filled the house with inflatable beds, pillows, and blankets. My brother pointed out that it was the first time all of us were under one roof in years.
The kids cuddled up with a movie while the adults gathered together on one big couch to watch the storm progress. We pulled out some drinks and snacks. We talked about the day and shared fun stories from the past. After a difficult few days, it was wonderful to hear the room filled with laughter as we celebrated family. Until finally we were so tired it was time to claim a bed!
What a memorable way to end the weekend!
The next time life throws you a hurricane…
Surround yourself with the people you love.
Take time to talk, tell stories, laugh, and cry.
Create memories that you will share with generations to come.
And be thankful you’re able to sit back, reflect, and find the joy hidden inside the storm!