The Unexpected Birthday Party

Woman holding a birthday cake

To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.—LUKE 1:79 [NLT]

My grandmother, whom everyone called Mom, sat hunched in a kitchen chair, the lump on her back from lung cancer causing troubles with her breathing. Her hand shook as she attempted to raise the coffee cup. Her watery eyes held sadness. We tried to raise her spirits by morning coffeetime with her young granddaughters.

A knock on the door brought Mom’s head up. In came her hospice nurse, Ulli, with arms overloaded with parcels. Helium balloons floated above her head.

“Happy birthday!” she called out, and the atmosphere of the room instantly changed. Ulli handed out party hats and noisemakers. She plopped a birthday cake on the table in front of Mom and gently placed the string of a hat under her chin.

Mom looked bewildered “But . . . it’s not my birthday.”

“Nope,” said Ulli. “It’s our birthday! Remember? You and I share a birthday month, so I decided to celebrate it now, just for fun.”

Knowing Mom would not last until her birthday months away, Ulli brought the fun of an early celebration, giving my grandmother a time of joy she would talk about for days afterward. Ulli’s simple gift of an unexpected birthday party brought light to brighten Mom’s darkest days.

Today's Prayer:

Lord, help me bring light to my loved one’s darkness in simple, unexpected ways.

Adapted from Strength & Grace: Daily Devotions for Caregivers, a new publication from Guideposts