But Sean isn't 41...he will forever be 34.
After he died, I struggled with how to handle his birthday. What was the proper thing to do for someone who had died? Do you still celebrate a birthday? Is it creepy? Weird? Crazy? I went on to the YWBB and discussed it with other widows and widowers...what to do, what to do...
This is the sixth birthday we've tackled since that horrible day. Each one has been different. The first few were more surreal than sad, as if we still hadn't accepted the truth of what had happened. Then we traveled for a few, making it fun, doing things we knew he'd love. A few were lost because of my own pain, where his birthday passed without a word or a thought because it simply hurt too much. But today we ate carrot cake--his favorite.
Today the kids and I talked about his strange love of new socks, his crazy skiing stunts, his ability to always make me laugh even when I was completely pissed off, how much each of them reminds me of him in specific ways. They asked questions, I answered and we all laughed.
I did cry a little..in private...after the laughter stopped. He is forever young and handsome while I am aging and alone. The kids are growing up and will be moving on soon and I find myself thinking about all the fun we could be having...if only. I miss his beautiful smile, his wink, his reassuring presence.
I look at the past six years and see how far I've come emotionally. That first birthday felt like all kinds of wrong with a big gaping hole ripped into the center of my life. Then I busied myself with traveling, parenting and an almost manic need to "be fine" for a few of the others. But those lost birthdays were the result of lost years when despair caught up with me and "being fine" was no longer an option, when I could barely drag my feet out of bed. Grief takes its toll...it's harsh and mean.
Yeah, I've come a long way from then until now. I've moved into my new normal where I talk about him with ease, am happy to see him living in our children, and know he'd be proud of how well we've done.
I will always miss Sean. That's what people need to understand. When it comes to grief, it's not about years or moving on with someone else. It's about accepting the new normal and letting go of the old routine while embracing change. I've come a hulluva long way from that moment when we found him dead to now. A helluva long way...and anyone who thinks differently is an idiot and not worth my time.
I will miss Sean at our kids' high school and college graduations, when they get married, when I hold my first grandchild...I will miss him. That doesn't mean I'm stuck or that I'm never going to love someone else again, it simply means that I loved well and completely once upon a time. Good for me.
I think it's okay to celebrate the birth of someone you loved--whether they are alive or not. I'm glad he was born. I'm glad I knew him. I'm glad he loved me. Why not celebrate that?
Today we ate carrot cake...with laughter and some tears...and with a whole lotta love.
My Sean--1970 to 2005.