I will never forget the party Tom organized right after I had defended my doctoral dissertation. The defense had turned into quite a party by itself. My favorite colleagues had all shown up to observe and participate with questions, and my three advisors put on a great show, debating the pros and cons of qualitative versus quantitative research. The discussion was as intellectual as could be. I was ecstatic. I had so much fun and enjoyed every moment of it. I could not believe that I had accomplished the doctorate in the first place, and then to enjoy the discussion as much as I did was a hugely added bonus. What a gift!
A few days later, Tom and I had arranged to go out for dinner. We were still dating in those days, living in separate apartments. He was supposed to pick me up for our dinner date when, instead, he called to say his car had a flat tire, was in the "shop" for repairs, and would I please come by his place to pick him up instead. I grumbled and moaned to myself as I drove off to collect my date. When I arrived, my closest friends and colleagues (many of whom had been at the defense a couple of days before) were all there. Shining, smiling faces, flowers everywhere, gifts on the table, an assortment of congratulatory cards, and wonderful foods arranged all about the room.
At first I stood and stared with my mouth wide open not understanding what was going on. After I realized what was happening and succeeded in finally closing my mouth, I sat down and spent close to twenty minutes or half an hour just staring at everyone quietly. I was completely and utterly stunned. Mostly, I could not imagine that anyone would think I was important enough, to do something just for me: organize, plan, keep it a secret, all that stuff. I have never taken for granted that I am anyone’s priority. It felt like a dream come true, a Cinderella story.
Surprise parties are really an act of love, aren’t they? People taking time, working in secret behind the scenes to shower a person with gifts, friends and fun. I have experienced two of those in my life, and I must admit they were amazing! Both times I spent the majority of the party in a state of shock and disbelief. At first I was reeling with the realization about the web of tales told to me to get me there. And for the rest of the time I was stunned that people could be so loving and caring of me to take that much trouble just for me. In short, it was quite traumatic, I must say.
In a good sense, naturally.