Robbed of his 37th Birthday

This morning I woke up and was unexpectedly very teary.  I've had a great week, I've been on holidays, started studying again, enjoyed some really happy moments with family and friend and feel like I'm in a good place.  Yet here they were, the sadness and the anger, paying me an unwelcome and un-invited visit. 

Then I remembered, this coming Wednesday would have been my husband's 37th birthday. I knew it was coming, I've planned how I'll spend the day, I was feeling ok about it all until suddenly, I wasn't.  

It will be the third that I've had to mark without him and it has started feeling like the people around me will start to forget what an important day this is.  I've mentioned to a few 'it's Dan's birthday on Wednesday' and the reply has been 'oh wow, gee that's come around quickly' or 'that's right, I'd forgotten it was coming up' and not much more.  How very different to the first and even the second, when people asked if I was ok, what I was planning to do and if they could do anything to help make it easier, like being with me on the day.  It's as if they assume I'm ok now and the day will pass without too much fuss or bother.

As I was laying in bed, pondering all of this, my phone beeped with a text message from a good friend who I met through my husband.  They'd gone to school together and had been as close as bother and sister.  When he passed away she was an incredible support to me and we've now become close also.  

She knew Dan's birthday was coming up and had been thinking of him too this morning.  I called her back and let my tears flow, knowing she would always be ok with with however raw I needed to be.  I confessed that I was sad that people might be starting to forget and she assured me she wasn't - and none of their friendship group were either.  

We spoke about how it still feels surreal that he's not here.  I told her about a conversation I'd had that week with a new friend I'd made, where I told him the story of my husband.  As I'd shared the details... I was married but he'd passed away when I was 33 and he was 34... we were newlyweds, only married six weeks prior... he'd been recently diagnosed with depression and his medication caused a psychotic episode that prompted him to take his life... I'd seen the shock register on this new friend's face.  Each layer of the story sounding more and more bizarre and unreal.  

It still felt unreal.  I've told our story hundreds of times by now. I have it down pat and know it intimately. However telling it again to someone new, and watching them react to the sadness of it, always makes it real again.  This wasn't the plot of some ridiculous day-time tv drama, this actually happened.  And it happened to me.  It's MY story.  It's woven into the fabric of my life, forever shaping me.  

Each time I tell it, as if it's an abstract tale of woe, to then realise that this is actually what happened to Dan, well, it hits home again.  

The process of disbelief can still register, even now.  How did this happen?  How could he have reached such a tragic place without me noticing? How could he have honestly believed this was the best and only option?  How could he have written me that last goodbye, knowing it would devastate me but thinking it was still the only way?  

Depression is such a cruel disease.  I'm still feeling the ripple effect of the impact it has made in my life and I guess I should expect to do so until my own time comes.

It robbed my darling of so much. I hate depression.  Today I'm sad and I miss him and I'm angry that I couldn't spend this weekend shopping for the perfect gift that would light up his eyes and bring on that cheeky grin that I'd give anything to see again.  

Showing 8 reactions

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  • Kim Kinney
    commented 2016-03-31 23:40:34 -0700
    Eight months ago I couldn’t stop telling the suicide story. I think I was waiting for someone to tell me it wasn’t true or otherwise say something that made it make sense. Now the absurdity of the story, the judgement (no, I didn’t see it coming,) the blank stares, the awkward subject changes, and the expectation that I should “move on” keep me from saying much. And here are at least two of you who get it. How long until I stop awakening to that punch-in-the-gut adrenaline surge when I remember what my new life is. Complicated doesn’t begin to describe it.
  • Rebecca Collins
    commented 2016-03-11 05:27:34 -0800
    Nonna, thank you for your kind words, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Lisa – I’m so sorry for your loss. Ours is a very complicated grief and the expectations of others only make it even more so.
  • Rebecca Collins
    commented 2016-03-11 05:25:32 -0800
    Darlene I hope you went ok on Monday. The firsts were the hardest for me. It can feel like they just keen on rolling on, one on top of the other, with no space to come up for air. I hope your plans for ribs and time with loved ones helped you through the difficult day.
  • Rebecca Collins
    commented 2016-03-11 05:05:29 -0800
    Judy thank you for your kind words. My mum’s birthday is the day after Dan’s and I found it hard knowing there was have been joint family celebrations too. Enjoy Camp Widow this week xo
  • Lisa Richardson
    commented 2016-03-06 23:59:18 -0800
    Rebecca I’m so sorry. I’m a suicide widow as well. my Tony’s story is much like Dan’s. It’s been almost five years. Somehow people think I should be ok by now, but worse they think since some time has gone by I should also be ok with prying questions. Then I’m also supposed to be ok with the shocked look on their faces as I tell our story. If it’s uncomfortable for them to simply hear it – how could it possibly be ok for us to live it? Hugs to you and a very happy birthday to Dan. May you always remember with love.
  • Judy Kaan
    commented 2016-03-06 10:02:46 -0800
    Rebecca, your blog post really hit home to me as well. This will be the 4th birthday since my husband Justin celebrating what would of been. Even though I always honor him, knowing the next day after that his his sisters – and they would always have a barbeque party. March 2011 was the last time I was invited. But, I will always honor Justin’s birthday.
    Sending lots of hugs your way – I know it just passed – but sending you lots of love and I know Dan’s love is shining down upon you.
  • Darlene Morris
    commented 2016-03-05 20:07:14 -0800
    Rebecca, your post definitely hits home for me as well. Its only been seven months since my husband Greg died of a heart attack at age 49. His 50th birthday would be on Monday, the 7th. He wasn’t crazy about celebrating them, to him they were just another day, however, he made a big deal when I turned 50. Since his death, I have dealt with my birthday six weeks later, then our anniversary in October and the Holidays in November and December, then of course as Greg called it the Hallmark holiday of Valentine’s day. It was a challenge to get through them, but most of the time I felt like I was in a fog. So as his 50th approaches I have made plans to go to dinner to one of his favorite places and eat one of his favorite foods, ribs. It will be a gathering a family, his sister, brother in law, niece, nephew, aunt and uncle and a cousin. We will tell lots of stories and of course wish he was there, but most of all we will miss him.
  • Nonna Medvedyeva
    commented 2016-03-05 18:42:30 -0800
    My Tom died a week before his 37th birthday. In the shock off it all I don’t know how I survived that day. Reading your blog now so resonates with me. He was robbed of his 37th birthday. How could life be so cruel? Tight hugs to you on this very hard day.