Saturday, March 14, 2009

birth day

I awoke this morning, feeling a sense of significance about today, though I did not remember what it was right away. Slowly my mind chugged back into gear, until finally I remembered: my birthday. The 23rd annual celebration of the day I was delivered into this world, the day I first looked into my mother's eyes, the day I became my own separate entity and started walking my own path in this life.

I pulled myself out of bed with a struggle (it is always a struggle lately) and began the day, rejoining the world, as I do every day, with an odd sense of obligation. There was celebration to be had, there was family to embrace, and all of it came easily, with a smile that was genuine.

And yet...there was something missing. There is always something missing, isn't there? I don't know that it is you exactly, since I have come to accept that you are not going to share this life with me, that likely, you never were. Accepting it does not make it better though. In fact, the acceptance of your death has brought me a deep, underlying unhappiness, and still my mind gets caught up in that perpetual and illogical cycle of thoughts that follows the inevitable, unshakable question, "What if?"

My birthday is not the time for these endless, circular thoughts, or at least I wish it wasn't. But the thought remains that if things were different, you would have been here, sharing this day with me, hearing the joyful laughter and celebration from your cozy, warm little bubble inside my 30 week belly. If things were different, I would have been counting down the weeks until your arrival, preparing for the day of your birth, the moment I would look your eyes for the first time.

But things are not different, and perhaps part of the ache, the emptiness in my heart today, is that I will never get to bake you your 23rd birthday cake. I will never get to bring you balloons, call you at the moment you were born and tell you that 23 years ago, I was holding you for the first time, falling in love with you for the first time.

It saddens me that your birthday will never be a celebration. Your birth will forever be interchanged with your death, and how can ever I celebrate the loss of you? On your day, your January 9th, when we distinctly became two separate beings, I marveled at you. I swelled with pride that you were mine, I had created and birthed you, and yet you were leaving me, you were already gone.

I am learning to navigate this life without you, without the potential of you, but sometimes, especially on days like this, when laughter comes easily and the world is brighter, the gaping hole you left behind seems bigger, darker. Sometimes it is all I can do to keep from curling back into it. The grief is becoming comfortable now, instead of the other way around. At least when I am in that dark place, you are at the forefront. There is no going about my business or celebrating in the absence of you. You are all there is. Unfortunately, the dark place, the hole, is invisible to the rest of the world, and life continues to make demands of me that require me to step out, back into the light.

So here I am, standing at the starting line of my twenty-third year on this planet. It is a year, a birthday, that would have marked an entirely different beginning, if things were different. But no, if there is anything I have learned, it is that things just are, there is no getting around it.

I cannot wish it away. I wish I could.

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