I was told one day by a dear friend that had lost her son to death, as I sobbed into my cup of coffee, that one day, eventually, I would be remember the good times without being shell shocked by the grief of the loss. At the time I did not believe her, I could not fathom ever being far enough from the horror of saying goodbye to think that the good would out weigh the bad.
Birthday #1 after our shared birthday was not that day. I ran, quite literally, away. I couldn't be home. I couldn't be surrounded by well wishers. I needed space and absence and alone. And I took it and had it and survived. My friends and family poured love into me, and I was grateful but I just couldn't be here in the same living room where 365 days before we had celebrated our birthdays together.
Birthday #2 was a total bomb. I stayed home and my family, in an attempt to be sensitive to my need to not be overly happy with my birthday, completely and totally ignored it. Ok so by "my family" I meant my husband and sons. My sister remembered. I really love my sister. And those boys, they did attempt to make it up to me.
Birthday #3 without her was yesterday. And I actually enjoyed myself. I thought of her all day, but with happy thoughts. I thought of who she was and then actually stopped myself when I realized that she is FOUR now. FOUR. I cannot imagine her as that child but the memory of the baby she was sure brings me joy. And then I changed diapers and dealt with a very present teething baby and celebrated my 36 year old self. And my husband and sons? They OUTDID themselves making sure I had a good day feeling loved and cared for and celebrated. I enjoyed my day. I loved my life as it IS not as it WAS. I shocked myself.
I go back and I read my pain of my last birthday and I wonder if I had known what being 35 would bring into my life - the pain, the fear, the joy, the horror, the loss and the love - if I would have KNOWN that last year what would I tell myself? Would I have reminded myself to be thankful for what I have, not ache just for what is lost?
I look back on being 35 and I am glad, so glad to be 36. I lived. I survived. I am thriving. I can honestly say that yesterday I celebrated the fact that I share my birthday with a child I will always love. A precious, absent, child I poured my heart and soul into for one year. A child with whom I have so many memories that I can, almost, celebrate. I celebrated the fact I am the much loved wife, mother and friend of so many. Pieces of my heart may reside elsewhere but I am blessed. So incredibly blessed. I am getting there. I am proud of myself.
May 36 be far more boring than 35.