Today is a special day. And an especially hard day. Harder than I anticipated, but how could I know? It is the next of many firsts.
First Thanksgiving, on which we spread some of his remains into Lake Houston and cried and laughed as the wind spread them back on the boys and they delighted in being dirty.
First Christmas, when I returned to the last place I’d been before my life changed forever, to a spot where we swung from the bridge above and smiled at the simplicity of watching cousins make mud pies.
First New Year’s Day, watching football and slurping my husband’s homemade pho, a tradition that he enjoyed with us the last few years since relocating to Houston.
And now the first birthday, his, without him. He would have been 67. I hate that he didn’t make it.
I filled my day with appointments and tasks, hoping to avoid a downpour, hoping to hide from the inevitable, hoping to keep my hopes up, my head high, and my heart light. But I couldn’t. There is nowhere to hide from yourself.
As I drove the 47 miles to our first appointment of the day, my son requested some music and I agreed, knowing with the first note I’d feel my first tear and they wouldn’t stop. And they didn’t stop until I pulled into the parking lot, took a deep slow breath, and put on a smile for my eldest son, who was facing his own obstacle and needed his mother to be strong.
I keep thinking that eventually I will only feel stronger, better, more evolved, and experienced in the ways of the world because of losing him. But eventually hasn’t come close to arriving and today I only feel lost and sad and cheated. I feel like there is no possible way I can do this life without him. I am scared and lonely and heartbroken.
I don’t feel this way every day but I do today. His day. Today we recognize the day that he came into this world and forever changed it. Just like we will recognize the day he left this world and forever changed it.
Maybe eventually we will be able to celebrate it, to smile on it and feel okay with him not getting one year older ever again. But today I only mark it. I see it and feel it and acknowledge it but I don’t rejoice in it. I don’t feel much like celebrating.
The firsts will keep coming for many months to come and though I know having these special days tick by on the calendar of life won’t ever be easy without him, I am hopeful that after this first year of firsts it will get easier.
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