Your birthday party was perfect. Lots of laughter, a few tears, great stories and memories to share. It was exactly the way I wanted to honor your day and I think it would have pleased you to know we were together, missing you, but remembering you in such a special way.
My birthday is Thursday this week. Last year that day was one of the most difficult days I think I've known. It was the day I lost hope. I realize now you had let go weeks before and was simply waiting for me to realize it too. After months of fighting to keep you, of thinking there was a chance with the last chemotherapy, of refusing to accept losing you I finally realized there was no hope. You were dying and nothing was going to stop it. I couldn't stop it. You weren't capable of many words then, but your eyes said it all. I realized something as I watched you sleeping on the sofa during that afternoon. If I kept fighting my own fight you would be alone in your journey. If I let go, I could walk a least a little further with you. I wanted to help you through to where you needed to go and I wanted you to know you wouldn't be alone to get there. So I let go.
It was the hardest thing I've ever done.
In letting go of you I let go of myself too. What I knew about me, about us, about life in general was lost. In the days and weeks after you died I felt I'd never find my way back to living. I spent the better part of this year trying to figure out how to begin again, how to breathe again, how to figure out who I'm supposed to be in this world.
How to find hope again.
I dreaded December for a long while until last month when I realized I had to think differently about it if I wanted to survive it. So, a birthday party for you and yes, a birthday party for me. I have to take back my birthday. I can't remember it as a day of loss. A birthday party with cake, good food, great friends and many reminders life is still worth living. Maybe hats and a birthday dance too. Maybe a birthday shuffle conga line.
There's no escaping some of the emotions, the feelings, the sadness during this month and I'll feel all of it. But there's a balance now that I didn't feel before. There's good too. There's laughter again.