I’m sitting at the airport this morning headed to spend the weekend with my best friend from junior high. It’s my 40th birthday weekend and I’m all over the place in my head. Today’s blog is more of a list of competing emotions rather than a discussion or story…Sometimes bullet points get “the point” across better. See what I did there? ;-)
Ok here goes:
- Turning 40! Excited and how the Hell did I get this old?
- Yay! Friends and fun!
- Yay a break from work!
- Oh God this is my first birthday without Clayton. Can I hold it together?
- What’s next? Holidays? Oh God I won’t have him for holidays!
- Do I want to even decorate? Too sad but he would want me to.
- Seriously 40? I did not envision my life would be so shaken up at 40. Ugh
- Ok deep breath! Birthday weekend!! I’m grateful for what I have but I’m also excited for presents :)
The thing most people don’t get about losing your partner is that you also lose a part of yourself when they die. You lose aspects of who you were with them. You lose a lot of your innocence, without having any choice in the matter. You grieve a loss of your own self. This sudden identity change was an equally painful part of losing my fiance six years ago.
Death changes us, no doubt. And there’s this part of me that I had long-since accepted that I would never get back after he died. There was a lightness in who I was before. This effortless, joyful feeling. A distinct side of me that was silly and goofy and witty and warm. Which became replaced with something more akin to an over-serious somewhat distanced and far more uptight person. Of any part of myself, that lighthearted, goofy part is something I miss the most. My innocent self. My carefree self. Always ready to make those I love laugh. Always full of life and hungry for new experiences and filled with curiosity for life, love and people. She's a part of me that my new family has not really even met, which always gives me heartbreak.
As my birthday hit this weekend, I'm doing some reflecting, and realizing that maybe that part of me didn't actually die after all...Read more
I originally wrote this post last year and have revised it a bit to reflect my current feelings. Happy Birthday to me! Enjoy!
I hear it all the time…”another year older, urgh,” “I hate getting older,” “I hate my birthday and the reminder I’m getting old,” “getting older sucks.” I use to be one of these people. I cried on my 10th birthday because I didn’t want to be double digits. I’m sure many people reading this are still those people that post on social media about how getting older is terrible or complain to their family and friends about it. I, however, strongly disagree - getting older doesn’t suck.
Whenever I hear someone say that they hate getting older I wince inside knowing that they have this privilege yet they don’t fully appreciate it. Do you have any idea how lucky you are to be here living and getting older? Not everyone gets to get older but you do and are everyday. It is one of the best things that can happen to you. You are here with a life to live, adventures to be had, goals to set and achieve and love to share.
I wish Mike was here getting older. I know there are other widows, friends, brothers and sisters and parents who wish the same for their loved ones. There is nothing nice about being forever young. To be forever 28 is limited. I’m not saying he didn’t have a good life while he was here. It is not about that. It’s just that there was more life to live that got cut short.Read more
Today, Megan would have been 37 years old. This is the fourth birthday since her death, and I can confidently say that they have gotten a bit easier. I’m not a ball of snot and tears, or missing her any more than I already do.
She’s s imply “in focus” today. There is no other way to describe it but “in focus”. On any given day, something occurs that makes me think of her. Shelby says something that sounds like her. It may be a five minute, fleeting memory, but regardless, she is in my thoughts. Four years of processing those moments have blunted the sharp edge of grief. Her birthday is no different, other than the fact that those moments occur throughout the day in a reliable, predictable sense.
The elevated awareness that she’s dead does, in fact, make today a bit more stressful overall. Her birthday doesn’t make any one individual thought of her “worse” per se, but the accumulation of them tends to just wear me out by nightfall. That in mind, I’ve decided I don’t care about being worn out. We’re physically in my favorite place on earth right now, and I’m welcoming the overwhelming flood of stimuli that will have me in bed by 9:00 PM.Read more
Sorry I didn’t write you sooner. As fate would have it, your birthday was last Wednesday, and this just happens to be the best forum for me to do this, albeit only on Tuesdays. Sue me.
Anyway, this is the third year in a row that I’ve given you a birthday letter. Last year, it was about cake and bacon beer (of which I did NOT get to partake in this year...you’re slacking, although, I did make a cake that was pretty damned good). The year before, it was simply a personal thing, telling you about all the new things I was learning about being not only a widower, but dating a widow.
Mostly though, the song remains the same. I still would have liked to know you personally, even though it would have absolutley sucked to see you gone. There had to be something interesting about you that brought such a unique group of friends together. Friends who continue to remember your birthday every year. Friends who still hate this day, because it reminds them ever more so that you’re not there wearing a purple tiara and having a beer with them.Read more
It's his birthday this week. March 22nd. On this day, I will always "celebrate" Mike. There will never be a March 22nd that I don't spend with him. On his birthday I purposefully choose to remember the way he lived. I celebrate the life and love we shared together. This is how I try to honor him everyday - not just on his birthday. That being the case, I admit that I want to do something more on his special day, but I haven't completely decided what this might be.
In the grief world people do all different types of things to mark birthdays. The way we choose to celebrate our person are varied. The only thing constant is that the celebrations are fitting for those who died. I like that. Not one type of birthday celebration will do because the people we are honoring are separate, unique individuals. To honor their person, some people release balloons and the environmentalist scold them, others set off lanterns that are biodegradable - they don't receive any backlash. Some choose to cook their person's favorite meal. Some people gather friends and family together. Some go to the cemetery. Some have cake. Some people spend the day alone - in bed. There really is no correct way to mark a birthday for someone who died, or for someone who is living for that matter.
For me, on significant days, I find that I am less out of sorts if I have a plan of some kind. When special days occur on the calendar I prefer to plan something. If I don't organize something, then grief leads me places I don't want to go. Creating a shape for the day is what works best for me. You might be different. Grief has many commonalities, but each of our experiences is unique. So, I think that we should do whatever is best for us. We should do whatever soothes our Soul.
Because I love to write, it's not surprising that I will write Mike a birthday letter. I will go to the grave and tie a balloon to the shepherd's hook I have lovingly placed behind his headstone. To Mike, there will be a handwritten message on his birthday balloon. I will stand there, on his grave, wishing with all my heart that things were different. I will play him some of our favorite songs, and I will toast him with his favorite wine. And, then I will cry. Before I leave, I will read Mike his birthday letter. And, then, I will cry some more. My graveside visit is very precise and predictable because I have completed this ritual for all our significant dates. I know how it feels. I know what to expect. And, I find it comforting in some strange way. For me, it feels right to honor Mike in this way. My rituals are sacred and intimate for us.
However, I am an overachiever and I outgrow routine quickly; so, this year, I want to do more to mark his birthday. I feel it is necessary. Mike's life was bigger than my ritual of reading him a birthday letter and toasting him with a glass of Malbec. His love for me was deeper than just me, his widow, standing at his graveside offering a balloon to the man she loves. (For those of you who did these exact things please know that your gestures were perfect as they are. Nothing more is needed to honor your loved one's birthday. It's just me. This year, I know that I need to change things up.)
I honor Mike every day - in both big and small ways. Daily, I credit him with the profound impact he has on my life. I think we all do this as widows and widowers. I believe that we naturally "celebrate" our person, in their absence, every day of the year. Yet, for me, my Soul is calling me to do something more on for Mike on his birthday this year, I just haven't figured out what...
The excitement of new.
The knowing of strife.
The frustration of sickness.
The commitment for life.
The determination to protect.
The joy of more days.
The newness of health.
The fear it won’t stay.
The sliver of hope.
The knowledge of none.
The witnessing a demise.
The grief that begun.
I’m going to (try to) keep this short, simple, and to-the-point. Megan’s birthday was yesterday...the third since her death. She would have been 36, which, for someone born in the early 80’s with Cystic Fibrosis, is twice the normal life expectancy.
The first thing I thought of when I opened my eyes in the morning yesterday was Megan’s birthday. It was the last thing that went through my head as I closed them in the evening. Her birthday cycled through my head off-and-on all day, just as it had been doing for the past few weeks.
It is what it is. It’s white noise.
In honor of Sarah’s late-fiance’s birthday, I’ve decided to write him a letter, man to man. It’s something I haven't done in awhile, and today, of all days, seems most appropriate.
So, today’s your birthday. It’s kinda hard to believe you would have been only 33 years old. You had way too much left to do. Hell, you were just getting started.
Anyway, enough with all the “far too young” and “taken too early” crap. You know as well as I do it’s all cliches and fluff that people spout off when they don’t know anything else to say. Point is, you got to experience some pretty damned cool things in your life, and with a damned good woman by your side for the last few years of it. That’s more than a hell of a lot of people can ask for.Read more
The day before this posts is my birthday. I am now 49. Mike was 45 when we met; I was 31. It's hard to imagine I am that old now, and I spend a lot of time thinking back to Mike at my age. And I remember all the birthdays we spent together...I have kept all of the cards we gave each other. We always did something special, but he made me feel special every day of the year.