The Shark Attackiversary: We use a brush with death as an excuse to throw a yearly party

Aaron's nearly accurate re-enactment.
Aaron's nearly accurate re-enactment.

In 2007 that guy I married was attacked by a tiger shark and survived!

We knew his calf was almost detached from his leg, but only after he safely made it to a nearby hospital did we even realize that he had a tooth hole in his leg that was an inch away from his femoral artery. Yup, dude came an inch away from death.

So every year, on the date of said shark attack, we throw Aaron a "Shark Attackiversary" party. It's much like a birthday party, except we celebrate the day Aaron didn't die instead of the day he was born.

Since then I've really fallen in love with the idea of throwing a party that celebrates a traumatic life experience that you've overcome.

Here's how we throw our Shark Attackiversary party…

3012461806_d22e24fd3c_bThe first year I attempted to make a red velvet shark cake, but my baking chops are less-than-stellar (perhaps one day I will be attempt the JAWS cake). so we ended up with a red velvet sheet cake with a chocolate shark on it. Now I abandon all baking attempts and just pick up delicious red velvet cupcakes…

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 4.35.46 PMThankfully, the Attackiversary is right before Halloween, so I often find shark attack-theme appropriate goodies. For the fifth Attackiversary I found these bloody "take a bite" cupcake wrappers.

08bc481a222811e2b05e1231381b4f45_7We always get shark-themed beers (if you remember from my Nerdy Thirty birthday party, themed beers are totally a thing for me):

img_1366We were gifted these awesome shark fin salt and pepper shakers, so of course they're brought out as decoration in various food dishes.

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 4.20.27 PMLast year, my buddy Lisa brought over two sharks made of food — a shark-o-lantern and the shark-ermelon. The shark-ermelon is a lot like the shark punch bowl, but instead filled with bits of watermelon and sour candy laces streaming from the teeth and "bloodying" the water around its head.

img_33101To set the ambiance, we play our Shark Week: 20th anniversary DVD on a loop. Nothing like chowing down on red velvet cupcakes while you watch huge sharks chowing down on their delicious prey. And then thinking about how really, truly lucky we ALL are that Aaron didn't meet the same fate as so many seals and a few humans on those tv specials.

Do any of you throw parties to celebrate traumatic events that you've survived? If so, what does YOUR party look like?

  1. I love how you guys totally own this! Many people would develop dehabilitating fears related to an attack or accident they had, but you two have really made it into almost a rite of passage. I mean that in a, "It happened, but it won't stop me from enjoying life to its fullest" type of way.

    12 agree
    • Oh man, swimming in the ocean is my dude's favorite. So he made it a point to get right back in the water once he was all healed up. He's an amazing guy.

      9 agree
    • Oh hell yes to those cupcakes! I've seen cupcakes topped with fins and blue icing, but the bloody center of these? Rad!

      1 agrees
  2. I am stealing this idea for my hubs who has always hated birthday celebrations. He says he doesn't see the point, but he might be more inclined to have a party to remember going over the waterfalls 2 days after he proposed.

    3 agree
    • Ooh the added bonus to the Attackiversary: Aaron's birthday is December 31st — basically New Years Eve. It's hard to properly celebrate his "special day" because his friends are taking their ladies out to dinner, or going to BIG celebrations that we can't top, and NYE trumps birthday. So the Attackiversary becomes his unofficial birthday celebration.

      8 agree
  3. I dig this idea.
    I was involved in a pretty bad grease fire a few years back making fried chicken for a work party. It took me about six months to recover physically. I've been slowly working on the "psychological" recovery, my goal starting in September of this year (on the anniversary date) is to make that same recipe of fried chicken on that date each year.

    4 agree
    • That's awesome! Both that you've recovered (congrats!) and that you're going to "get back on the horse" to celebrate. You should totally invite friends over to enjoy some of that victory chicken! 😉

      5 agree
  4. My husband used to throw 'diabetes anniversary' parties, five, ten and fifteen years after the diagnosis. This was before I met him though. He didn't do one for 20 but did buy his colleagues a round at their weekly after-work drink. I hope he'll do a real party for 25 years again, seems like a good excuse to celebrate.

    3 agree
  5. This is not quite so awesome, but it's a similar idea. Four years ago I had a miscarriage on February 13th while I was studying abroad and it really rocked the world of both my fiance and myself, and we developed a tradition to celebrate the anniversary kind of by accident (I only just now realized after reading this post that we are doing something similar!) Instead of celebrating Valentine's Day, we set the day aside to honor the loss we experienced by cuddling and eating a good meal and watching lighthearted disney/pixar movies and then sharing some cake. It's kind of like a birthday party, with cheesey number candles included. This year some very close friends came over to hang out for the anniversary and it was really nice to share the experience with them and have the loss recognized by other people. We'll probably continue doing this for as long as it feels right to do so.

    5 agree
  6. So, I'm totally watching Shark Week programs right now, and it's got me thinking… have y'all ever considered submitting your story (along with the rad party) to Discovery Channel to be featured?

    2 agree
    • The story was picked up twice by two different tv shows and NEITHER of them aired. Aaron isn't much for attention (unlike his lovely wife), so he was relieved when they shows never aired.

      2 agree
  7. My husband's friend does this with her liver birthday. She had a liver transplant a few years ago and celebrates it every year! I think these ways of celebrating near-death experiences are really fun! Though, I'm not going to go looking for them…ha!

    3 agree
  8. After reading this I'm now also in love with the idea that you celebrate the day he didn't die, that you have a party to celebrate the fact that you overcame a traumatic life event. What a great life-affirming idea!

    Was super surprised to see that you attempted to make a red velvet cake Megan, how did that go?! Maybe you need an annual party to celebrate that you overcame the trauma of baking?!

    4 agree
    • HA!!! I love that you know me so well. Yeah, note that I never attempted that again. 😉 The sad fact is that the store bought red velvet cupcakes are the highlight of the night to a lot of the party regulars. Fucking store-bought, man. Eh, it keeps me away from the trauma of baking. 😉

      2 agree
      • You don't have to tell your guests that they are store-bought. You can pretend that at night you transform into a person with super-baking powers. I always fob off store-bought things as my own creations!

        • Yeah – you know, just be like, "I don't know… some people cook, some people bake…" 😉

          Whenever my Mom would make a box cake and get compliments she would say, "Yeah well, you know… me and Betty, we do pretty good together." Upon questioning looks: "who's Betty? Don't you know Betty Crocker?" 🙂

          2 agree
  9. My family and I are planning a transplantversary. I've dealt with medical issues all my life and it seemed like they all culminated into one big climax (I hope..) last summer. I was scheduled for a kidney transplant last June but it kept getting pushed back due to kidney infections. Eventually the doctors decided I needed to have a double nephrectomy in order to have the transplant. I was then apparently the only person in the history of ever whose blood pressure goes up on dialysis instead of down..and ended up having seizures. Thankfully, I finally had my transplant on September 27 and everything has been perfect. So..yeah. We plan on having a big party. 🙂

    3 agree
  10. My boss was diagnosed with cancer 6 years ago and was told she wouldn't see the Spring of the following year. When the first day of Spring came around the following year she celebrated with flowers and raw vegan food for whole the staff team. We celebrated that the first day of Spring each year until she passed. Some people remember her by her birthday or the day she passed away, but I always remember her by the first of Spring.

    6 agree
  11. This a fantastic idea.

    After I had pneumonia a few years ago (not a brush with death by any means, but unpleasant and scary) I declared September (the month I got pneumonia) to be Breathing Appreciation Month, because I felt it was important to take time to stop and appreciate how NICE it is to be able to take a full breath and to be able to get enough oxygen EVEN WHEN I'M WALKING AROUND and to NOT have a fever of 103.

    6 agree
    • What a great concept. Good health is easy to take for granted. I love "Breathing Appreciation Month!"

      2 agree
  12. challenge excepted.

    for the past two years my husband and I have had a 'we survived party' to celebrate the day my twins came home from the NICU (my daughter was given a 25% chance of surviving her heart surgery). For the past 2 years it's only involved going to the bar for cheap beer and tater tots with our friends while the kiddos stay with the grandparents. But now that the twins are toddlers and are full fledged twinados I need to think of a fun theme for our party.

    2 agree
  13. Not exactly the same, but a friend of mine has done this with the anniversary of her rape. It had been a terrible date for her every year, basically an annual plunge into depression and anxiety. Then, her therapist suggested doing something to re-own the day. She's done things like skydiving and SCUBA diving, things that take the adrenalin that her body is ramping up anyway and turn it into something exciting and fun.

    12 agree
  14. Holy shit, you guys are awesome! I want to be friends & party with you– I'll totally bring my busted surf board (snapped a board & the fin punctured my thigh, coming 2mm away from severing my femoral artery & ripped my quad outside of my wetsuit. Everyone on the beach thought I was attacked by a shark! )

    2 agree
  15. I haven't had any life-threatening traumatic events, but I wanted to say that I think that is a great way to celebrate and embrace life!

    1 agrees
  16. Perfect timing – I came home from the hospital two days ago after my breast cancer surgery…I'm *totally* going to make a boob cake and have a party next year!

    8 agree
  17. Ummm, how AWESOME is it also that your last name is Finley? It is like a great fable that was foretold! (Pardon if someone already mentioned that.)

    1 agrees

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