April 6. Tomorrow. It’s Mike’s birthday. It would have been his 30th birthday. Instead, it is his 2nd birthday without him here. How is that possible? How is he not here to celebrate turning 30? Nevermind celebrating, how is he not here to turn 30 at all? He only lived to be 28 years old. It’s really not fair at all. Turning 30 years old seems like a given in life. It’s not like it’s something you ‘oooo’ and ‘ahhh’ over like turning 100. It just happens. Many of my friends, myself included, are doing it this year. Yet somehow, he is not. And he never will. It feels like a punch in the stomach.
My family and his have always been big birthday people. Birthdays call for parties and celebrations. It is wonderful but now it is also difficult. Birthdays have so many memories attached to them. When the person is alive you’re looking forward to the year ahead but what happens when it doesn’t come? Then what?
I had a widow moment with the kids in my class yesterday. Before I explain, let me give you the (extended) back story. The kids in my class now know I am a widow. They don’t know it in any personal, heart-wrenching way like people close to me do. They just know the bare facts: I was married and he died. I have always kept my personal life out of my teaching and have always chosen to share very little with my students. This intensified after Mike died because I didn’t think I could keep it together emotionally as they asked their million questions, I liked work as my space to focus on something other than grief and I didn’t want any backlash from parents for potentially traumatizing their child.
Regardless, curious 6, 7, and 8 year olds always seem to want to know, “are you married!?” I generally just avoided the question for the first (almost) 2 years but up until this September I was teaching many classes’ physical education and special education so it was easier to avoid. Now I have a group of 21 inquisitive grade one and two students every day who want to know about me. So a while back after being asked (again), “are you married?” I matter of factly stated that I was married but he died. I wasn’t emotional about it and I answered (some) of their follow-up questions and averted when needed. Anyways, the point is they know I’m widowed and they’re mildly concerned for my future (“will you get a boyfriend?” “how will you get a baby?” “why didn’t your husband leave you a baby” “will you marry someone else?” “will you get a baby then?”) in a kid way.Read more