A few days ago I kept daydreaming about my birthday. I could go away for the night with my husband, maybe I could once again meet up at a nearby wine bar with my girlfriends. I thought about getting my hair done or eyebrows, but when the day came I found myself in a puddle of tears.
Facebook has a way of reminding you of all your birthdays gone by. My birthdays always consisted of Forced Family Fun. A day when my children were forced to do something with me. It didn’t matter what selfish teen stage they were in, it was Mom’s birthday, therefore they were stuck bowling or shopping or whatever Groupon event I could find.
Every once in a while, my husband and I would go off to our favorite spot in the mountains and I looked forward to the fireplace, the sunshine on the white pristine snow. This year we literally could find not one night our schedule allowed for a night away, even if that was what we wanted to do. I spend a couple hours with the girls the day before my birthday having waffles and window shopping.
When I woke up today to Happy Birthday texts, all I could think of was how do I feel Happy? How can I have a happy birthday when all I can think about is being tired of being bereaved. I am tired of being ok for a few days and then waking up sad, like today and wham! Today is your birthday be happy but nope wham I am hit with the fact all my girls aren’t here and I am a puddle. Why is my dumb birthday now a trigger?
I should have recognized the pitfall and seen it coming. It doesn’t matter if it’s my day. Any special day with all your loved ones that now has a piece missing will be a trigger, a hard day. Maybe I shouldn’t write about it, but this is the problem I have been trying to bring into the light in society. The things we hide, the things that make us sad, the things that are awkward and we aren’t supposed to talk about.
As I sit here I also realize I was trying to celebrate like the old me. The woman that wanted shopping and beauty treatments, special desserts and romance. That person has gone. When I get a message about a Happy Birthday, I think to myself I just want a peaceful birthday. One without my cortisol racing. A day without drama. A quiet day where maybe I can lay these tears aside at what is gone and just appreciate the pink buds on the purple plum tree my daughter used to lay under while covered in falling blossoms. I can appreciate that while I live in the Northwest and every February is wet, that today there is no rain. There are puffy white clouds I can stare at and imagine different shaped floating by. I can wander down to the river and her bench and feed the ducks as they waddle by. I can gather around my girls tonight and make a wish that they ALL feel my love throughout all their lives and beyond.
“It’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” Lewis Carroll
I cannot unjoin this club. I cannot quit it because I’m tired of it and don’t want to have pitfalls, triggers, and the fear that happiness is not a feeling I know how to exactly feel anymore. I want to go back to birthday toasts, and ignorance and bliss. Where bad things only happen to bad people. I want the life I planned please and thank you. I want small talk and planned birthday parties. “Because this randomness, this roulette wheel of tragedy, is heavy” -Elizabeth Thoma
Today, my birthday, the person that I am today, needs to appreciate the day in a new way. I celebrate in reflection, in thankfulness for quiet moments, and for the love around me that I have been blessed with near me and far away. When I thought of all I wanted for my birthday. All I could think of was expanding my little non-profit and wishing and praying for healing for my earthy children. The days of wanting trips and clothes seem like memories from someone else though in truth I wouldn’t turn a good birthday gift away.