Archives for posts with tag: birthday

Forty years ago today, our son was born. Forty years ago. Five years ago today, he texted me:

IMG_1227Two months later, he was gone, his 6’2″ frame weakened by the residual effects of intense radiation ten years previously. At least we had those ten years.

Normally, I’m pretty stoic about all of this, able to process his life and keep it in perspective with the ways of nature and the universe. I understand life and death pretty well, knowing we all aren’t given long lives or easy lives. I don’t cry much anymore, having cried myself out with the death of my husband first and then my son. I talk about it, write about it, keep myself surrounded with the people  who make me happy. I do ok.

This year has been different, especially the last few months. I’m in a new zone of the grief process, a new layer that I wasn’t expecting.  I can’t pinpoint the exact reason for this feeling because I can pinpoint a whole bunch of reasons. Whatever is causing it is real and painful, but I know it will pass. The song, “Forever Young,” goes through my head. Yes, he will be forever young, although I’d like to have watched him get older along with his sisters and all my grandchildren. Not to be.

I try to be angry but it takes so much energy that I need for the living. I should be madder than hell that he isn’t here to watch his daughter grow up. He is missing such fun things with her and her mother. I should be livid that he isn’t here with his wife and daughter and his sisters and their families at our family gatherings. I hate that he’s not here for his 40th birthday, celebrating with his friends. Damn it! That would be easy, I think, to rail against the universe. I don’t really do that too much, although today I will shake my fist once for good measure. I’m not mad at God or nature or any person or event. I’d get mad at cancer, but there are so many diseases equally devastating. It’s part of being a human being, this living and dying.

Mostly, I miss him. I miss him all the time. It creeps up on me at odd moments, as these things tend to do. It’s not the big events in life where the loss is felt the most. It’s the day to day flashes of what was and what might have been.

I defy anyone to think this won’t happen to them if they have enough faith or understanding or people around them or therapy or support groups or exercise or alcohol or drugs or whatever it takes each person to survive loss. It still waits around each corner, ready to disrupt your thoughts or sleep or activities. It can stop you in mid-sentence or mid-thought. If you let it, I guess it can paralyze you. You keep moving, keep moving along.

Don’t feel sorry for me or anyone else grieving. It is what it is and mostly we get through it, some better than others. There are no rules, no timeline, and no way to escape. Maybe that’s ok. Maybe that’s how we measure how much impact our loved one’s life had on us and others. So, don’t feel sorry, just appreciate the power of the love we have lost.

I have a feeling that his birthday will help release me from the pain I’ve felt this year. I hope so. My memories will still make me smile and laugh, his daughter will still do things that remind me of her daddy, my family will remember together. He was part of us from the beginning, forty years ago today, and he will be part of us for eternity. That’s how these things work.

Sharing all of this emotion is debatable but probably a good thing for me and for any of you who ever have to go through this. My heart is with you, whoever and wherever you are. It’s a feeling that you don’t really share with those around you who are going through their own ways of dealing with grief. Even married couples who share the same loss can’t grieve the same way. It’s personal and very very lonely.

I can feel it beginning to shake off because I’m looking forward to being with my family, sharing hugs and laughs. This grief comes and goes, but it will go back into hiding for sure. The sun shines, the seasons pass, the world moves on, and we who feel loss step out and join in the joy that is life, carrying the memories with us all the way.

Images of my son’s forty years pass before me. I don’t have a favorite because each is precious. Today, I can’t summarize his crazy, funny adventure of a life for you, but I can share him, dirty faced in his favorite cowboy hat, at 2 1/2 years old. I can’t help but smile thinking of this baby/boy/man of mine and how much a part of our hearts he will be as long as we can



Happy Birthday to me!

I’m feeling pretty young for my age, pretty sharp, pretty healthy and very loved, so that makes it a good thing.  I’ve gotten cards and calls and texts and emails and Facebook messages and posts from so many people.  I DO love the ease of technology and know that it is every bit as sincere as the old ways because I do it myself.

The day was quiet since this isn’t a momentous number for me and everyone is busy, busy, busy.  And that’s fine.  I took a walk on a unseasonably warm morning and spent the afternoon with my 3 year old granddaughter at the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Gardens, walking again in the bright Oklahoma sunshine.  One thing I’ve learned is that birthdays tend to go on and on these days.  I had a birthday dinner with a friend on Friday and will have another one or two along the way.  There are brunches and lunches and dinners with family and friends and those are as much fun as one day of celebrating.

The main thing is that a birthday is a time that we count our blessings in years, in family and friendships, in health, in love, in memories and lessons learned.  It’s our special day to focus on our own life with all its ebbs and flows and toast ourself for making it this far.

And hope we make it to the next one, celebrating each day all the way.