I met Lauren just a few months after my youngest brother was born, so I've technically known her the same amount of time as I've known my own brother. That makes us like-siblings. We're not family, but we act, pretend, and wish that we were. And one thing's for sure: when we can't have family, we're a nice stand-in.
After losing her dad two weeks ago (and her mom nine years ago), Lauren did not want to do a big family celebration for her son's first birthday since her parents couldn't be there. I understand her reasoning, and I'm very supportive of "do what you need to do" to get through this murky time. Her family of four got together with my family of four. Us. Husbands. Babies.
For a while we just hung out at our house and drug out toys. We laughed. We watched the kids play together so easily. And we just lounged. It's great how we all get along so comfortably.
We went to Lupi's Pizza for the best pizza in town. Burl and Margaret (my namesake) sat at the end and toddler-talked to each other, which was cute. I think they were talking about where they would like to live after they get married. We just watched them and daydreamed about officially becoming family.
We spilled some water, caused a scene, and brought balloons in and out of there. I can't wait until we start vacationing together! Oh the stories we will have from that week at the beach.
Next we went to a secluded part of a park by Lupi's. To get there, we had to walk through a quaint little covered bridge. (Que perfect setting minus that Burl-chased-a-snake-and-busted-his-lip part.) We each drug out all the things to make a simple little party feel special. This part was my responsibility. All Lauren had to do was bring her "1" candle, and I took care of the rest.
While unloading all the "party necessities," John and Lauren had a laugh that, other than the party supplies, I had a beach chair, watermelon, blankets, and hula hoop in my car. I'm always ready for a party. Why yes, I'm somewhat tooting my own horn here, but I'm throwing confetti and dancing at the same time. It's like a parade. Or a tidal wave. Either way, don't fight me, just go with the party flow.
During the day, we remembered Lauren's dad and talked about him and said how much he would love to be here. We didn't try to cover up or replace him. We just hold hands with Lauren and her family while they go through the muck and celebrate this little boy.
Even though he didn't like the cake that I made him, Whit is still a sweet little guy. He's laid back. He's happy. He's big for his age (oh how I love that). He's Lauren's son, so of course I love him. Happy first birthday, Whit. You are too precious!