So my birthday was 12 hours of solid fun, laughs, love and general good stuff in great company. Additional bonuses were cash, flowers and pretty cards. I was lucky enough to get some lovely presents which were
The postman delivered the expected cards including a very wearable solid silver bracelet from Aunty Susan (I still have one she bought me about 30 years ago).
Hayley delivered her father in law with a hedge trimmer and filled flasks with tea to keep him going and washed up yet again, having cleaned my floor the day before and cleaned some windows, while I opened my post. And a "I love it, that's so me!" necklace made by a French artisan whose work she drools over when she's in Fougeres.
Hayley managed to park almost in a bus stop but legally and very close to town and we went for lunch in Prezzos (the nicest place to eat in Boston aesthetically). It was a lovely sunny day and we opted for a window table and were both instantly reminded of our lunch out in Rennes sat in the sun back in June. We ordered Prosecco, olives and dithered over the main courses. As I was eating whatever I fancied, but with no appetite I considered chicken for the protein but went for crab cakes in marsala sauce. Hayley had chicken and mushrooms with spinach but there's no way I'd have eaten all that! The potatoes I had with my crab cakes were untouched (I was quite impressed I managed four small crab cakes!). The wine started to make me feel ill (forgot about the opioid patch I had glued to my arm doh) and have no idea how much I drank but left a full glass - Hayley's was empty (odd that).
Onto the shops! I don't really remember us ever going clothes shopping before ever, hanging around in town yes, actual spending money on anything but beer or cider, no. I tried approximately 8 dresses on in Dorothy Perkins - including a perfectly fitting size 8 - which we all know is really a size 10 in that shop, but still, I wanted it! Despite initial doubts I followed advice and went for the navy one with a jewel encrusted neckline (more bling) found some bracelets to go with it and also a large pendant watch just because I keep looking at it every time I go in the shop, it was my birthday and H said "buy it!". So that took care of the cash from my parents - none of my own money spent so far! (I don't have any money except back pay from DLA which is making up the difference between £79.15 weekly sick pay and usual salary so this is VERY good).
H picked out a long, but not full length horizontal striped clingy dress for me to try on. Now following the two ops to my abdomen I have odd shaped lumps and following 4 pregnancies with 5 babies they're made from a spare tyre that will never go. But, I'm resembling the stick like figure I was when I was 17, I was with my oldest friend and actually, despite having to stop and rest like an old woman, I felt 17. I also don't have any underwear that fits any more, well a couple of necessary items from BC (before cancer) days that managed to hide at the back of a drawer and luckily lycra makes a lot of it passable. There was a display of Monsoon lingerie outside the changing rooms..........well, if you're trying on the world's clingiest dress, you need some decent structural support don't you? THAT receipt was worthy of a 40th birthday and came out of money my mum gave me to go to Dublin with. So again not needing to touch the DLA back pay. Doing well!
A couple more shops and I managed to spend (having checked) just about all the money I've been given to spend on me - which in 40 years I have NEVER done before with money for my birthday. I've paid off debts, paid a bill, bought some nice food instead of scrimping for me and the kids or put it towards Christmas presents. Instead of feeling selfish, I felt justified. I mean, I may never be this well on my birthday ever again - it's all about now.
There is a book I keep meaning to get hold of - must check Amazon - called Burnt Toast I think, about mothers who always put everyone else first, eat the leftovers but never a full meal, if toast is burnt they eat it rather than let anyone else. Part of my long four years of trying to figure out what caused my particular cancer has included the theory that I hold stuff in, I try to please people. I bottle things up then snap and pop at ridiculously irrelevant moments. People remember the explosions and have no idea about the attempts to please or what's been bottled up. Actually my biggest issue is I constantly feel like I'm failing at pleasing and dwell on that makes me feel worse and probably turned me into a self fulfilling prophecy. Always my own worst critic. If I'm in a foul mood, you can bet your life it's because I made a mistake at work that nobody else remembered 5 minutes afterwards. Me, I'd stew on it for the whole day, if not longer and people would wonder what the hell was wrong with me. What a stupid waste of negative emotion? Does that sound like you? If so I suggest you take as much money as you can afford and go out with your oldest/best friend and blow it on some gorgeous underwear and feel good about it. No man is ever going to see me in it. It's ridiculously expensive compared to basic stuff I could have bought more of but I DO NOT CARE.
40 years to work that one out and I really could have done with that genius stroke of insight 20 years ago before the little bastard started growing.
Just to liven this up a bit I took a photo with the labels still on:
Hayley did actually buy some clothes too - which I'm so pleased about because birthday or not, it's nicer if you're both having some retail therapy. We both got some furry boot toppers that just make ordinary worker boots/boring last year's boots that bit more exciting for winter. I bought a new purse to go with the so "me" new giant satchel/military bag my cousin Jane bought me which is SO me and I only sent her a card (knowing I couldn't pay my mortgage presents have sadly been deemed a luxury, but I have a plan to make up for it in a very small way soon enough). I accidentally bought a bracelet and necklace for Hayley too, because we were having too much fun and the French economy isn't doing any better than it is here for the self employed and she'd paid for flights, then had to pay for a ferry and fuel to get here in the end. And because I love her and I wanted to.
I was knackered by the time she dropped me off - I had a couple of hours to get ready and really wanted a sleep but that would have made me feel worse. Waiting in the utility were a huge bouquet, an I Love You helium balloon and an orchid stem in a vase from one of my BBs and my older sister - who finally read my email on Facebook answering her question of "How are you".
Becky arrived with the cakes (see above) which was such a totally unexpected surprise, I mean I know she is used to what I do and don't eat, but quite when she found the time to even look for someone to make them I'm not sure, between kids and their golf/football, full time job, part time hospital transport and a new husband. She also arrived with substantial presents, some of which, more pretty but not like anything I already have, Accessorize jewellery - one of our favourites. My hair is also courtesy of little sis - because she knew how important it was to look like me on my birthday for one last time. Money doesn't solve a lot when you've got an incurable disease, but applied by the right people with the right intentions it can make a difference many times it's actual value.
We met Maurice and my two (still can't believe how amazing they're being now, last time was very hard for them both) children outside and found Lisa and Jamie inside. Eventually we got served with a pitcher of beer and a couple of spritzers (one of which was mine - wow, two glasses of wine in one day). Mike and Alex were running a bit late having to drive all the way from Sheffield. You may remember St Michael from before - when he lived in Lincoln, still an hour away from me, he used to come over on chemo weeks and cook for me and the kids because I was having such a hard time touching anything from the fridge or holding a knife, walking, standing etc). People are constantly disappointed that despite meeting through a dating site that we have only ever been incredibly good friends. They don't get it. Neither do we! But there it is.
The compere obviously picked on our table, since we were right at the front. He found out it was my birthday and said I looked radiant or something and said he'd come and see me later....later called me a snitch when poor Mike and Alex arrived 5 mins after he'd started because I said they weren't from here (by way of excusing their lateness of course). I thought I'd keep my mouth shut about Hayley coming all the way from France. Unfortunately he asked what I do for a living (really it was like it was my actual party) and I just went blank....and laughing said "I'm permanently sick" which sadly he pressed asking if it was serious and surely I'd get better and the whole table was laughing at his misfortune of pushing such a question with ME out of everyone else who was heckling. (Hayley spoke to him afterwards and assured him I didn't mind at all - I suppose given I was laughing so much he wasn't sure what to think).
The compere also accepted a cake just before the interval.
Third Act - Raymond & Mr Timpkins - genius alternative to stand up comedy using song lyrics and props. They are on You Tube.
My children are both mature enough to know a lot more than they would admit to in front of me and I may have allowed them to listen to language and sip the odd drink they're not strictly old enough for.....but so what. I'm 40 now not in 2 years time.
Every time I turned round everyone was laughing, out loud. Proper LOLs all round. I could pick out some laughs without having to look. I had been most worried my daughter would get picked on, she sat at the back of her table, hiding with her hair falls (extensions in bright colours she makes herself, having sported a black and blue mohican at her age, I have no issues with her appearance at all, but the general public do) so I didn't get much chance to talk to her, sat next to her brother. But she was laughing too.
Between them they bought me a Weird Fish bag and I suspect Karys and her boyfriend's nan made the card - which is also lovely made in black and dark red and sparkly jewels on it. The thing about the bag is, separately with each of them, when I've been trying to find clothes to replace my oversized ones with my MacMillan grant, I looked at and stroked the bag.
It was late, a "school" night, although half term for the kids, so we didn't get chance to talk really, but I just wanted to laugh, have fun and be with people I cared about. I couldn't ever get everyone in the same room, it's just not possible, but I needed to have some happy memories and also maybe that's how people can remember me when my hair is gone and I'm actually feeling ill (next Wednesday actually, but let's forget about Irene for now). I bumped into a couple who were our very good friends when I was married, we lived in their house as much as our own but when we divorced and they moved we drifted apart. It was good to see them, they said Karys really hasn't changed, she still has that innocent wide eyed look no matter how aggressively she dresses. Sarah, who also fell foul of dirty tricks by a mutual acquaintance like I did, and was my neighbour for a while was also there, shocked as I still am by my giant son's growth spurt since she saw him last.
When I got in, I was so happy and excited I couldn't sleep, I kept going over the pictures in my head, the photos I stupidly forgot to take. Then I realised I'd not eaten since lunch so got up and finished off the family sized bag of salsa pretzels I'd scoffed most of the other day. Too excited to sleep AFTER the event? Is that usual? Around 2am I think I fell asleep smiling.