Or at least it was. Yesterday I had my first birthday without my husband, Kevin, around. He was around for the last 33 of them. It was a day like any other day, which is how it needed to be. So how was it really? It went like this. I woke up in the morning and cried. Not body-racking sobs, just quiet tears of sadness. I got a few text messages from my kids and family, gentle and tentative reach-outs to let me know they hadn’t forgotten, but also that they were unsure. So was I. I debated whether or not I would be able to go to work. Could I keep it together? It would have been so easy to stay home. The last thing I wanted to do was see anyone.
I went to work. A few people were aware it was my birthday, and so I had a few well-wishers. I did what anyone would do, thanked them and then moved on. Mercifully, there was no fuss. It was a day like any other day. Except that I knew it wasn’t. The thing is not to think about it. Easier said than done, but when I was able to immerse myself in reading, I actually forgot for a while. It all came back though when it was time to head home.
Pulling into the driveway I was, again, crying – tears streaming down my face. There would be no one to greet me at the door. No one to question me about working on my birthday. Nothing bugged Kevin more than when I would work on my birthday. He was amazed that anyone would. Birthdays in his world were about being indulged and being indulgent. So if I worked on my birthday, I knew when I walked in the door he’d be telling me to think about getting ready to go out. He’d ‘splash the cash’ and take me and whichever of the kids were around out for a nice dinner. My daughter’s fiance is born on the same day as me. So we merged the celebrations and still Kevin paid – he was on the hook no matter what – and he was resigned to that fact and happily coughed up the cash.
So this year I came home to an empty house – no Kevin. It’s just so very sad. I did, however, have plans for dinner and so was only home for an hour or so and then back out for dinner with the ladies. A different group of ladies – the ones from my grief group. The night was really just a get-together as a final thank you to the facilitators and members of the group for sharing and caring through the eight weeks of the class. They did know it was my birthday and it was handled very well. They’ve faced these milestones before and understand that for this year, at least, it’s modified slightly. It’s not ‘Happy Birthday”; it may sound almost the same, but this year for me it’s ‘have a birthday’. That’s all it was, this year I have a birthday. Maybe next year it will be back to happy birthday, I am not sure. The year ahead is unknown, the birthdays are unrelenting – they come regardless of circumstance. It’s up to me I guess as to whether I have a birthday or I have a Happy Birthday.