Put on a Happy Face (Part 1,439)

10_13_09.JPGYes, here we are once again...trying to put on a happy face. Tomorrow is my 40th birthday, and although I could care less about the fact of "40", the birthday itself is hard. Not the 40 part, just the birthday.

Four years ago I spent my birthday in the emergency room at MD Anderson, then in the outpatient surgery center, and as a celebration of the survival of a horrible night: Starbucks for a vanilla latte. A latte I felt guilty for drinking, as Daniel couldn't enjoy it - he was on a tube fed diet only at that point. I remember hardly noticing it was my birthday, and not really caring. We had bigger fish to fry at the time. A little more than two weeks later, the worst nightmare I could have possibly imagined came true, and the rest as they say is history.

I don't think my birthday will ever be the same. It is so burdened with memories and so much sadness in hindsight, I can hardly celebrate it. I put on a happy face, and some parts of the day it is real. Grayson always sings happy birthday to me at breakfast, and it is the most wonderful gift. It is a great start to a difficult day, and only a few people know how hard it is for me (until now I guess). My birthday falls smack in the middle of the march to the deathiversary, and it just hurts. Right now, while I am letting myself think about it, I can barely breathe. I find it hard to concentrate, I feel like I can barely function.

I keep expecting it to be easier, and in some ways I guess it is. The surprising thing each year is how intense the pain still is. How clear my vision and memories of that final time still are. How much like yesterday it seems. My god, he was just here. How can it be 4 years???? It can't be possible. And yet, here I am, 40, and Grayson, who was in kindergarten at the time is in the 4th grade. Apparently it IS possible.

The thing is, in general I feel okay - other times of the year. It's this time that I wonder at my sanity, wonder how much I have truly healed and wonder how on earth I'm supposed to make it to 80 without him. I don't want 40 more years without him. I DO want 40 more years with Grayson. I guess my future is in that balance. Somewhere squeezed between wishing my life away and wishing for a long and happy one for the little guy is where I'll find the space for me. Sometimes I feel like I've found it, other times, not so much. The month of October falls into the "not so much" category.

Overall, I am optimistic and hopeful in general. It's just this time of the year that I can't always muster it. Major parts of me want to curl up and cry at the smallest provocation. I still want my husband back. I know I always will. How do you move forward from that place? I've seen it happen, so again, it's possible. My heart is pieced together with duct tape and Elmer's glue. I don't know what a more permanent fix will look like. I can't imagine it. I can't feel it, and at this time of year, I don't even want it.

So the happy face comes out. I repeat Daniel's favorite saying and remind myself that if I'm not having a good time it's my own damned fault. I guess I can admit that I'm not having a good time. That must mean it's my own damned fault. Yes, clearly I'm a genius. At least I've got that going for me, and it isn't seasonal in nature... If I'm accountable for my own good time, then I will try to focus on that. I'm looking forward to having a great time in Vegas. Thanks to my wonderful friends and family who are willing to go with me, and hold my hand (or my hair, as the case may be).


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