Yesterday the love of my life would have been 55 years of age. When we were both in Pakistan he shared that the first birthday party he had was the surprise party I had given for him. Little did he know that when we went on what was to be a “simple and quiet” getaway to Lahore from Islamabad in 2001 was in actuality a carefully orchestrated event. Yes, I wanted to see and share the exotic closing of the Wagah border between India and Pakistan at sundown with him. That much was openly shared with him. What he did not know was that I had organized a private and intimate birthday party for him and had the cooperation of one of his best friends. What he had thought was an excess tendency on my part to pack too large of a bag for a short trip was really a bag full of laughter, love and surprises for him! Since I would be moving on from Islamabad to my next diplomatic posting in New Delhi, I wanted to make sure that he would not forget about me with some special gifts and memories.
He did the driving when we went to and from the Wagah border. Driving in Riyadh is a challenge but imagine Lahore, Pakistan where one drives on the “opposite” side of a crowded roadway meant for no more than 2 cars side-by-side but somehow 5 cars, “tuck tucks”, scooters and bicycles all managed to line up in a horizontal row. He was instructed by me to take a rest in his room while I saw to making dinner reservations. While he rested I made sure that a private dining room had been arranged, set up with festive ambience, the cake was made to perfection, wrapped presents arranged and his friend had arrived.
At the appointed time I collected him from his room advising him it was time for our dinner reservation. The expression on his face when the door to the private dining was opened and as the lights were turned on he saw his best friend, other guests and packages was priceless. I saw my love blush and I never knew until then that an Arab could blush!
He was so surprised and overwhelmed. It was especially touching when he and his Saudi friend hugged and kissed each other with raw emotion. That was when he told me and all present that it was his first birthday party. It was not his last. From that point on we celebrated his birthday each year…until 2010 when he was taken Home.
I miss you, Abdullah. You are now where you are forever young. God Bless You.
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