Good morning, Lynn.
Happy birthday… This is the second time since your death that the world has turned, the days and months have passed, and lo and behold, another year gone by. It is May 26th again… Your birthday seems to bring out in me a very deep, bitter grief. It seems so unfair that time keeps moving forward after you've died. It seems so incredible bitter to face a day when we should be celebrating your life, but you're dead. Birthdays seem to bring out in me the bitter anger that death wasn't supposed to happen, especially not so soon.
I wish I could talk to you face-to-face today. I wish you could tell me how I'm supposed to feel… Do you want me to celebrate you today? Can I celebrate that you lived, that we loved, and that you died? Am I happy that you're happy in glory? and that I'm here trying to move forward without you?
I have a mixture of odd and happy memories of when we used to celebrate your birthday together. Even then, we didn't know how to feel! You wanted to be celebrated, to be loved and valued, but you were very sensitive about your birthday... We would invite friends over, who all knew they were there to celebrate you on your birthday, but because they loved you, tried to pretend it wasn't :). You didn't want anyone to draw attention it. You didn't want people acknowledging it. This had nothing to do with aging, or a ridiculous sense of pride/insecurity that couldn't handle the attention. Your birthday was the day you grieved. You grieved for your family. You grieved for your childhood. You grieved for the happy memories, the way things were, when your birthday was privately cherished in your own American home, sitting around the kitchen table with loving parents, happy siblings, a mom who would make you a chilled lemon dessert instead of a birthday cake, because you hated cake…
Your last birthday with us was definitely our favourite. The girls were so excited to crown you as their king with the homemade, construction paper crowns they had made. We were so happy to give you your runners belt, which was something you had really wanted/needed for your runs. And it was a special treat, a blast from the past, to give you the first season of the Muppets. Did I make you an Indian meal that day?? Yes, I think I remember it took me hours to prepare!! We were very happy May 26, 2012.
I seemed to go through my many emotions of grief throughout the day yesterday. I was so blessed at church, but really struggled in worship. When they started singing "Blessed Be Your Name" I wanted to scream. I felt like I was spitting some of those words out of my mouth, not singing them, so bitter they tasted to me. I did not feel like rejoicing in my trials, or celebrating God's goodness. I felt instead like, Naomi, "Please call me Mara, for the Lord has dealt bitterly with me." (Ruth 1:20)
Everyone keeps on congratulating me on meeting and dating someone new. They want it to mean that there is no more pain. They want it to mean that we can wipe away the pain of grief and celebrate something new and good. But to wipe away the pain is like taking your memory away with it. Meeting someone new doesn't erase the 11 years I spent with you, loving you. Doesn't make your death make sense. Doesn't lessen the grief of losing you in any way. It is a blessing to begin something new, to plant a new tree in my garden*, but the stump is still there, and always will be… I don't like being congratulated because I feel like its supposed to mean that I don't remember you anymore.
So true to tradition, this birthday holds again a mixture of emotions… How do I honour you today? How do I celebrate you when you're gone, when others expect me to be "moving on" out of grief and into something new and good? They seem to forget that in this world there will be trouble. That in this world we have both, simultaneously, grief and sorrow and loss, and blessing and goodness and joy.
I want to celebrate the blessings, but not when it seems to encourage others to forget about you…
I still feel like your wife. I don't really know how to do this. I wish you were here to talk to me, to tell me what to do or how to feel…
Happy birthday, my beloved.