If he were still alive, my best friend Joe, aka Poker Joe, would have turned 45 today.  Undoubtedly, we would have spent last night -since it was a Saturday -  eating some sushi, having a few drinks and celebrating with our friends. Joe passed away unexpectedly a little over 3 years ago.  Joe was taken way to soon, just hours after a party at my house,  where I've never seen him happier and more full of life. Not a day goes by where I don't think about my best friend and miss him terribly.   Last night, there was no sushi, not shots of Patron, no massive pile of cheesecake and no gifts exchanged.

If you're celebrating a birthday today, do so by gathering with some friends and family.  Have lots of food and cake, blow the heck out of those candles, make wishes that are beyond your wildest dreams; laugh, love, and appreciate all the presents.  Most of all, appreciate the gift that we wake up to every single day, but usually take for granted.  Life.

Joe LOVED his birthday.  I mean really, really loved it.  It makes me smile thinking about how much he would geek out over it; slightly annoying to the point where you would roll your eyes. I would give anything to be able to celebrate his birthday one more time with him, but he's no longer here.  Instead, a few of his closest friends and I will get together on his day and share stories and cheesecake and laughs and food.

If you celebrate a birthday today, know that you share it with a person that loved this date, January 27th as much as you do.  His name is Joe Shapiro and he's the best friend a person could ever have.

Here's to the 'best of the best' on your special day and his!