February 11 is a happy day for me (also marked with some trepidation) ... it's my son's birthday. He who is so much his father, is turning three.
But since I generally write ahead of time, making use of the time I can sit in front of a computer screen uninterrupted while he's in child care, and I'm writing on February 7, John's birthday is not at the forefront of my mind.
Last night is.
I love my first Thursday of the month. But I don't like why I have it to look forward to.
It's when my local younger widows group meets. Usually we meet for a discussion or workshop, but sometimes we take the opportunity to go out for a meal with adults that get why sometimes a sadness or silence comes over the conversation (and aren't phased by that lull swinging quickly to laughter and chatter again).
We talk about how and/or when we struggle with our grief, get angry or indignant for each other as we deal with the bureaucratic or family/friend issues that arise, cheer each other on as we tentatively or boldly take steps into exploring our new lives, gripe about the things that our partners did that drove us batty, talk about what we've learned from our loss and grief - about ourselves and life in general, and we nod in agreement or recognition of similar experience so much, you think you should be a bobble head on a car dashboard.
You know when you don't see a young child you know for a little while and your usual response is 'they've grown/changed so much'? I find I have a similar reaction each month, particularly those who came for the first time after me, initially came in the depths of their grief. Month on month, I can see the grief-fog lifting, the smiles and laughter become more frequent, the reaching out to someone not as far on the journey and connecting them to the group.
I can see what maybe I couldn't/can't see in myself, but in acknowledging how far they've come in their journey, I can see how far I've come in mine. And maybe can identify where some of the brick walls blocking my path are.
One thing I've learned is reaching out and connecting with others in person for peer support has been invaluable on this journey.
And I've also become conscious that good days for me may well be difficult or bad days for someone else. So while I celebrate John's birthday, I also send hugs, prayers and positive thoughts to one of our group who today marks one year since her loss.