It’s your 24th birthday. My how time flies.
You know, even though it has been 24 years since you were born, you are forever 19. That kind of sucks.
Sometimes I’m angry that you were taken so young, other times I am grateful that if it was imperative for you to be taken young, at least it was sooner rather than later. It has spared your daughter the pain of losing you, after all. She was too young to really miss you now.
Then I feel guilty for thinking that, because maybe it would have been better for her to have at least some genuine memory of you.
Which one is better?
Neither, I suppose.
I’ll never be able to reconcile these thoughts, so I accept the thoughts themselves, accept the fact that I’ll never know the answers, and let them go.
Your daughter! I’ll bet sometimes Mom and Dad are PISSED at you for leaving them to take care of her. She can throw a tantrum like none I’ve ever seen, and is more hard-headed than a block of cement, I think.
She’s so bright - asks questions that blow me away. And possesses a sensitivity for the needs of others that is way beyond her years: “You don’t have one, Auntie Laura? You can have mine.” That sensitivity and generosity remind me of you.
Those brown eyes remind me of you too.
Ah, your 24th birthday. What to do with myself today?
I might light your candle, maybe look at your pictures, probably cry.
I’ll write you a letter.
I’ll read the Compassionate Friends’ March newsletter and touch your name printed in tiny black and white letters on the “Our Children Remembered” page. I’ll look at that and still have some sense of the surreal. He can’t really be gone, can he?
I won’t visit your grave because I live 150 miles away from it. I might think about the grave stone, of that little “-” between your birth and death dates, and recall a vaguely familiar poem that talks about how the beginning and ending don’t mean much… how the “-” is the part that REALLY matters.
But that doesn’t negate the fact that birthdays are important, does it? Millions of dollars are spent on birthday celebrations throughout the year. How do we celebrate birthdays for those who are with us? Balloons and cake? Gifts? Parties?
So…what about for those who are not with us? Does their birthday lose importance suddenly when they die? Because they are no longer physically among us are they suddenly unworthy of celebration?
Not a chance.
I’m a little jealous, you know. You got to leave first. You always were one step ahead of me.
So…what to do with myself today?
I’ll go to class, I’ll talk with my classmates, I’ll do my homework, I’ll text my mom, I’ll eat lunch with my boyfriend, I’ll talk to my friends. I’ll talk with some of those people about the fact that it’s your 24th birthday, but not with all of them.
I’ll keep my ordinary day, my ordinary behavior, my ordinary schedule. I can’t imagine you wanting me to do anything other than going on about my ordinary day. So, that’s what I will do.
Except that I will still celebrate your birthday. Not with balloons, or cake, or parties. But with something that hazily reminds me of hope. I’ll wake up and realize that I must have survived it all because I am still here. I am still breathing, and — for whatever reason — I am still moving throughout my days with relative ease.
For the whole day, I’ll keep you with me. I’ll bet you’re thrilled to pieces to know that.
Yes sir, during my ordinary day, you’ll come along. And you will like it. Or else.
In my thoughts. In my tears. In the eyes of some tall dude that slightly resembles you. In my stubborn resolve to pass this class. In that song on my iPod. In my time taken listening to a friend’s troubles. Maybe I’ll find a guitar pick. I periodically find them lying on the ground in random places and say “thanks” because I think they’re probably from you.
I guess in some ways, I celebrate your birthday every day.
Again… I’m jealous. A birthday party every day?
Dang, you have all the luck.