Thursday, July 31, 2014
Another Bittersweet Birthday Approaching
It's no surprise it will be a "Frozen" party theme, and I'll get to paint a t-shirt to commemorate the occasion -- something I've done each birthday for several years.
But while I'll be getting the house and yard ready for the party to be here, just as it was last year and would have been the year before had E2 not fallen ill, I'm battling more than the need to get things ready.
The last memory I have of seeing my son, Ethan, was at E's fourth birthday party. In just a few short weeks it will have been a year since he swept me up in one of his big hugs, probably swinging me off my feet just to show me he could. A year since I watched him drifting around the edge of the party, talking to my cousin's attractive stepdaughter and dreaming of being that boy again (OMG that would embarrass him so). A year since he sat in a chair in my yard enjoying hot dogs and cake and ice cream. A year since he left with my parents, my dad stopping to make some smart remark about him that even then made me want to reach into the car and slap my father.
Although it was December before he was gone, he was just a voice on the phone, the one who left an empty place when he didn't show up for family gatherings, an already hard to reckon with distant presence whose life was disintegrating around him.
Four more months he was here, and I never saw him, never hugged him, smelled him, kissed him. How could that be? How could our last time together have been so vague a memory? Rushing around being hostess, just seeing him and glad he was here, stopping to exchange a word here and there?
And so this birthday looms. An anniversary I'm trying not to give too much power, but something I'm struggling with at odd moments all the same.
I'm glad E1 wants the party here. Even though it will be largely the same gathering, minus one, it will keep me busy. I won't have time to look for the ghost that isn't there. I won't have a chance to huddle somewhere trying to put my broken heart back together.
I know birthday parties will always be hard -- although I can hope they will be easier as time goes by. I'll always look for him in the background, always feel the hole left in my family by his death.