July 24, 2004

// August 27th, 2010 // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

The party wasn’t set to start till 2:00 but Dan from American Bounce Company came to set up the Spiderman bounce house around 9:00 this morning. Nic and Chris thoroughly tested the bounce house while we finished getting everything set up in the house and yard. We knew it would be crowded, we were expecting about 70 people, and we wanted to make sure we had enough room inside and out so everyone would be comfortable.

Folks started showing up a little before 2:00. Even though we were all well aware of the occasion, everyone was in a merry mood. The bounce house seemed to help set the tone for the day. As soon as anyone would arrive, walking up the driveway they were greeted by squeals of laughter from the children as they careened through the air within the netted walls. As the day continued the young ones would occasionally get evicted from the enclosure so the grownups could have a turn, leaving no doubt that some of us are still kids at heart.

After most everyone had arrived and the pot luck lunch was all set up on the fully extended dining room table we all gathered in the back yard for a little memory ceremony. Nic and Chris each wrote a message to their dad telling him a little about how they were doing and how much they miss him. We attached the notes to the ribbons of two purple helium balloons. After Pastor Mark said a prayer to give thanks for the day, for the food, and for Steve’s life, the boys let the balloons go. Each balloon floated slowly up over our heads then drifted east where they got hung up for several moments in the tall eucalyptus tree that towers over the garage, Steve telling us he’s still here in each of us. As more than 60 of us stood watching the balloons, holding our collective breath, the breeze nudged them loose and sent them drifting in a northerly direction where they disappeared behind the hill.

When the balloons were out of our sight (but still drifting somewhere), the knot of friends and family untangled and drifted to the heavy laden dining room table to enjoy one of Steve’s favorite activities. We ate! We thought of making a plate for Steve but that just didn’t seem right. We had no doubt that he would not be there to eat and he was never one to waste food.

We talked and visited late into the evening. Several people wrote in the “Memories of Steve” book I had set out. They wrote some special, personal memories of Steve, some made me cry and some made me laugh.

I’m so glad we decided to do this party. It gave me something to look forward to and something to keep my mind occupied as this first anniversary of Steve’s death approached. It really was a day set aside to celebrate Steve’s life in a very meaningful way. This is what we do, what we’ve always done, share with friends and family.

I’m also glad I set out the “Memories of Steve” book. Now I have some new treasures there to mine at my leisure.

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