Another year, another birthday. Megan would be 38 tomorrow. Each time July 24 rolls around, it’s a slightly different experience for me. Sometimes, the build-up to that day is the difficult part. Other times, it has been acknowledged as “it is what it is” and the day passes without much fanfare.
This year, it’s a mixture of both.
While it is never swept under the rug, the theme that past few weeks has been a ridiculous amount of distraction. My work has been beyond what I would normally call “busy”. We’ve just returned from our trip to Texas. There has been some car trouble, and a lot of work around the house. More often than not, I’m just plain tired.
That doesn’t leave a lot of room to remember that Megan’s birthday falls in July. But I do anyway. I remember it at night, when I’m falling to sleep. I remember it on weekday mornings, when I’m up and preparing for work, but the rest of the house is quiet. My commute is yet another instance where I get a few free minutes to think, and in comes Megan.
Five birthdays later, and I don’t think she would feel insulted or forgotten by any stretch. Her memory is just a part of everyday life now, to the extent that it’s almost lost in the shuffle. I still brush my teeth in the morning, but I don’t think about it when I’m knee deep in work.
So, Megan’s a toothbrush.
Not really, but there is a similar comparison to be made in how fleeting remembering something can be. How guilty it makes me feel that I didn’t consciously think of her...like I’m forgetting something on purpose, or just being lazy. I’m fairly self-deprecating in the first place, and when I forget to remember my dead wife, I feel like a scumbag.
But I’m not forgetting. I’m just not actively grieving. I just need to keep telling myself that. I’m am still pissed off, sad, disappointed, and sometimes confused about the whole thing, but I’m not outwardly grieving. I just miss her, I suppose.
I simply haven’t had much time to think about her birthday. I mean, even if she was still around, I wouldn’t have had much time. Let me tell you this...forgetting her birthday when she was alive would have been a whole HELL of a lot worse than now, so I have that going for me, I guess. I wasn’t thinking of her six years ago when I was getting up for work or mowing the lawn, I was just conducting life.
Why should it be any different now? For the record, nobody but myself is telling me this. I am fortunate enough that those around me aren’t shaming me or making stupid statements about how I should A) feel bad or B) NOT feel bad and “move on”. It’s mostly muted, and Megan is mentioned anecdotally, rather than someone our lives all revolve around.
She’s still a part of everyday life, as much as she was in actual life. I figure that I can’t change or control the circumstances surrounding her death, so why waste what little energy I seem to have these days on a fruitless effort? She’s gone, I miss her, and that’s that. It may seem a bit rough around the edges, but it’s realistic and logical. I’m not going to be coming home from the office and listening about her day any more. I haven’t for over five years now.
Just after she died, I would have been horrified to think that. Like I was somehow disparaging her good name by doing anything besides bawling on the couch. Time has marched on though. I’ve evolved. I get those feelings of guilt from time to time, but I’m almost always able to talk myself off the cliff in a few moments. Perhaps knowing that even should I spiral, I’ve got the safety net of Sarah “getting it” allows me to feel more level-headed. I honestly don’t know if she’s a factor in it with regards to how I choose to remember Megan.
Is Megan’s birthday tomorrow just another day in the life? Yes and no. I don’t get the day off, we’re not going to a nice dinner or do participate in some fun activity. I’m waking up, going to work, coming home, doing some kind of household work, and going to bed. But at the same time, her birthday was, is and always will be a “prompt”. Whether it’s a prompt to plan on a gift, dinner, breakfast in bed, and a nice card, or it’s a prompt to think about the good times we had makes no difference. It is NOT just another day in that sense.
So, tomorrow, I certainly will think about her in a greater proportion than any other given day. I’ll miss her more because of that. But I won’t feel guilty. However much I remember her is just right, whether it’s an all-out bawling session, or a fleeting, 30-second “oh damn, it’s her birthday” before diving back into something else. Until such time as I totally forget her birthday, I see nothing amiss here.
It is what is is, and what it is, is July 24th 2019. Interpret that however you wish.