Katie believes that his celebration will include pizza, cake, flowers and everyone he knows in heaven at the party.
Last year we celebrated with lots of friends. This year's celebration won't be as big, but I know so many of the folks who love Steve will be thinking of him and remembering his cheerful, bold, funny spirit.
Cooper has requested a chocolate cake -- Steve's favorite -- to celebrate. And the three of us will go to dinner after homework is done.
We plan to eat at Cantina Laredo because Steve loved Tex-Mex and so do we. And because of our storied history with the restaurant.
In December 1992, Steve and I were dating long distance. He lived in Brenham and worked as assistant administrator of a multi-specialty medical clinic. I lived in Carrollton, was in my senior year at the University of North Texas and worked three part-time jobs.
We had dinner over Christmas week with his parents at the Cantina Laredo in Addison. At first, I thought we were having a fabulous evening. When the mariachi band stopped at our table, I even stood up to dance. (And I am not the dancing type.)
Steve did not look like he was having a good time, though. He was aloof and distant. (Maybe the dancing was too much?)
About a week later, just after New Year's Day, he broke up with me.
I was devastated. Heartbroken. Distraught.
Steve would later say that he needed some distance. That I was too serious. (Well, this was true. And I was probably a bit smothering. I would write and mail him a letter every single weekday. This, of course, was in the days before e-mail and texts and Facebook.)
We reunited about six weeks later -- over Valentine's Day weekend -- and never separated again.
But it was difficult to overcome the bad memories associated with that December dinner out. For a while we just refused to eat at the restaurant. In time we tried to replace the bad memories with better ones, but it never worked out. The service was too slow, the food not good enough.
We felt certain that we just weren't meant to eat at Cantina Laredo.
Many years later, the restaurant opened a location just a few miles from our home. Our dear friends Andy and Julie were determined to change our opinion and gave us a gift card to the restaurant for Christmas.
We timidly tried again. And we loved it! Maybe we just needed a new location and the passage of time. Whatever the reason, we reclaimed it as a "good" place and joked good-naturedly about that disastrous dinner when I was 20 and Steve was 24.
I may even share the story with Cooper and Katie over dinner Thursday night. They love to hear true stories of peril with happy endings.