Do you remember the 30th birthday party I threw for you, nine years ago? Before children. Before September, and both of our birthdays, became predominantly a prelude to the anniversary of B.W.'s death and birth. Before grief became a constant companion in our life together.
I cannot look at photos from that birthday. It is too painful to see the old you, the old me - twice over, former generations of us. Do you think we would even recognize ourselves? I am sure there is an effortless confidence in our faces. An ease of relative happiness and stability, diluted only by the disease and divorce in our respective families. Some of the people I remember being in those photos are now completely absent from our lives, casualties of our devastating loss and their impatience with our grief, with the new us. Perhaps those losses are for the better, but it still hurts.
Today, on your 39th birthday, in the year of the death of our Zachary, I wish I could protect you from the Happy Birthday(s)! you will receive. C.T. and I know it is not a happy day. In our home, it will be recognized that this is your most painful birthday yet. Your grief, your dead boys and this first birthday without Zachary - the wound still so, so fresh - are not invisible to us. We will not force happiness or celebration on you today. We will love and embrace you in whatever form you come home to us tonight.
I've been thinking about the words of our support group leader. The woman who said that the death of a son or daughter closes the door on the former us. That on that devastating day, we become like infants again. That we must re-learn everything, must experience and perceive everything afresh. You know, I appreciate this analogy because from our experience, I think it is so very true..., and honestly, utterly terrifying that you and I are forced to do it all over again with Zachary's death.
Know that I love you and I will stay by your side, for this and all future birthdays, as we grieve and re-create our life in Zachary's absence.