July is here. Megan’s birth month. Although her birthday isn’t until late, the 24th, just the fact that it’s this month serves as a near constant reminder. Every day in July, I consciously wonder how many days it is until the 24th. It’s a passing thought mostly. “It’s the 7th. Hmm...17 days until her birthday. Oh, it’s the 11th. 13 days I guess.”.
It’s not a trigger fest.
5 years ago, long before she died, it was much the same. The difference was that I was counting those days down because I was going to make sure that we had a birthday dinner planned, gifts purchased/ made, a card and maybe flowers. I wanted to ensure that Megan’s birthday was all about her.
Now, it’s the days leading up to the 24th that are “all about her”. It becomes more so as the day nears. I’m writing this with two weeks to go, knowing with all of my being that I’m going to have a moment or two (or 12) where I just friggin’ miss her. It might be this afternoon, or it might not be until the 20th. I don’t know when, but I know it will happen.
I’ve closely observed my own grief and mourning “process” over these past two and a half years...probably with more self-awareness than is considered “normal”. Part of that is my analytical tendencies. Part of it is writing here, and in a sense, being forced to observe and detail the process in writing, for others to read. I started writing here less than 6 months after her death. That has a way of pushing you “outside” of your grief and looking at it as a neutral third party.
Because I have a weekly “session” of analyzing her death and everything that has occurred since that time, I can almost predict my mood, weeks in advance.
July will always begin as a celebration of sunshine, hot dogs, cold beer, and fireworks, that will gradually descend towards more and more thoughts of Megan being dead. I’ll get a little more short tempered, a little less sociable, and a lot more quiet as the days roll by this month. After a short reprieve on the 24th itself (the lead-up is always worse than the actual day), August will begin straight away with a bang, considering the 6th of August would have been our 12th anniversary this year.
Then, calm, for almost three months. It isn't until mid-November that there are any other significant dates between Megan and I. Sure I think of her all the time, but it’s always a little easier when it isn’t mothersdeathvalentinesweddingbirthday.
Weird, isn’t it? Why is her birthday any different than some random Tuesday in March? Is it because she’s more dead? Is it because it’s a reminder that she would have been older that day? I mean, the last I checked, she was older every day, not just on her birthday.
Really, it’s because most of those significant dates were days when extra attention was heaped upon her. As much as I’d like everyone to think that I did, no, I did not make her breakfast in bed every day. I didn’t buy flowers daily because “Good morning honey! It’s THURSDAY!”. We didn’t go out to eat or make a nice at-home dinner for any particular reason, we just did it because we felt like it, unless it was our anniversary, or her birthday, or Mother’s Day. Then, it was specifically about her and/or us.
So her birthday approaching reminds me of not only of the fact that Megan is gone, but also of losing those special days we got to share together. Oh, I know, there’s the old cliche “But EVERY day is special!”. Give me a break. I would venture to say that most of us know that many days were just spent “being” together in a relationship. Sitting on the couch watching TV doing laundry, and paying bills. When is the last time any of you had a particularly mindful day because you remembered that one time your person vacuumed the living room carpeting?
(DISCLAIMER: If your person only vacuumed the living room carpeting one time in your entire relationship, the above statement does not apply. Also, I assume that you had a celebratory cake and bought them a gift when he or she finished sweeping. Subsequently, you celebrated your 13th vacuuming anniversary not long before they died.)
So, as her birthday approaches, I don’t remember much about the days leading up to it in years past. I can’t recall if we had chicken nuggets or pizza on July 23rd, 2011, but I know that we played in the backyard inflatable pool, later making steaks, popcorn and watching a movie with Shelby on the 24th.
These milestone dates don’t necessarily remind us of the person we lost any more than any other date. Lord knows that actually being alive serves as reminder enough. They simply remind us of days we celebrated our person more than normal.
And we should still celebrate them.