I’m having a milestone birthday next week. The last day of the first month. I’ve always been a cheerleader for people celebrating their birthday. It’s the only day of the year that you were born, and we should be super-duper proud to be on this earth.

That said, I have fond memories of taking time out of my busy life and planning a vacation or trip on my birthday weekend. I remember notifying my husband of my decision to travel somewhere to do whatever I wanted to do for my birthday. This trip was often solo. Just me time. Just time to reflect on my life. Time to rest, rejuvenate and recharge. As woman and mother responsibilities grew, sometimes I could only get away one day, but that one day was what I wanted to do for me. Later in my marriage, as my daughter grew and wasn’t as challenged, I took longer trips, knowing my husband was able and willing to “hold down” the household without me.

There was special comfort in realizing I married a man who understood the need to replenish my creative flow by going away alone for a time of inspiration. I appreciated knowing he loved me enough to want the best for me and if going away on a mini-vacation or retreat helped me, he was all for it!

Self-care is the new rave now. Taking time out for yourself is the newest Tik-Tok tip. The latest strategy for self-fulfillment. It’s now ok to want time away for yourself. Clock-out, tune in and get whole again! I am fortunate to have understood the benefits of self-care many decades ago, before it was a cool thing to do. I just think birthdays gave me a legitimate excuse to celebrate me. Lol

So what makes this upcoming earthday (birthday) special? I reflected that the last large celebration I had in 2015 was 5 months before my husband died. He helped my sister to plan a birthday event and invited friends from my church, work, and our neighborhood.  I was thoroughly surprised to see so many people who came out to celebrate with me! People ate wonderful Caribbean/African food, played cards, and even danced. We had a grand time, and I was so thankful to know these people loved me enough to want to celebrate my birthday.

The memory

My husband did not seem to feel good that evening and was somewhat low-key the whole evening, but I thought nothing of it.  It seems some men don’t tell others if they aren’t feeling well, and he just brushed off any mention of not feeling well. Little did I realize that this initial display of “not feeling well” would gain traction several months later to his death. All unbeknown to me or him he had a silent embolism that traveled to his heart where he succumbed on the bathroom floor and was rushed to the hospital where he died 2 days later.  My birthday celebrations stopped or were definitely changed forever, similar to my  current life.

He loved me enough to celebrate me with people he knew I was fond of and who he knew I had good positive relationships. Many of those same people attended his funeral several months later and for their support, prayers and love I will always be grateful.

Most of these same people I no longer have a relationship with due to changing employment or places of worship. But I know they still care about me, and I will forever have fond memories of how they impacted my life.

It was difficult for me to determine if I wanted to celebrate this earthday next week. My circle of influence has shrunk. People no longer get together since the pandemic and are much more isolated. I mostly work remotely now, so I don’t have the opportunity to develop meaningful work relationships. The church I once attended I don’t attend anymore and my circle of people, I fellowship with is relatively small. But in my mind, I kept hearing my husband’s voice encouraging me to bring together some of the current people in my life and let’s celebrate you! Just do it!

Reluctantly, I have planned a game night at a local restaurant and bar where about 15 people will come, play board games, duckpin bowling, giant Jenga and other board games, eat food, drink, dance to Salsa (or take lessons) and celebrate my earthday!   I can only hope they and I enjoy ourselves and I can have fond memories of this birthday event. While I may be sad missing him there, I know he’ll be smiling down from heaven and cheering me on and that brings me great joy!

So wish me well and pray I enjoy this reluctant celebration!



Ajai Blue-Saunders is a servant leader and works for a nonprofit in the Richmond VA area. She is always seeking ways to encourage and serve others, even while experiencing the sudden death of her husband in 2015. Her work experience includes project development, herbalist, management, supervision and overseeing several companies and nonprofits.

Ajai has a heart for the disability community and serves on many local and national boards. She currently is solo parenting an artistic adult daughter with disabilitiies and together they are navigating this life with faith and love. She currently runs a widow's support group that meets monthly sponsored by a local funeral home which provides a safe place for widows to experience their grief journey with love and compassion.