Birthdays and Other Reminders That Life is Fleeting

When children are young and growing every birthday is a celebration. And it absolutely should be!

But when you’ve walked a few (0r more than a few!) years on this old world, birthdays begin to morph into something else.

They remind a heart that life is short, that not all of the people we love will enjoy fullness of years and even those that do seem to leave us way too soon.

Birthdays-after precious people have run ahead to Heaven-mark one more year without them.

Instead of cake and balloons, flowers and presents, we sit with silence and absence, memories and wishes for more time…

Today my heart hurts more than usual.

It’s my mama’s birthday-the third one we will celebrate without her here to blow out the candles.

It’s also the third anniversary (do you call it that?) of the day Papa had to call an ambulance to rush her to the hospital.

She never came home.

Read the rest here: Birthdays and Wakeful Nights

Today is Dominic’s Birthday

Today is Dominic’s birthday. He would have been thirty-two if he lived.

I find as the years roll by it becomes increasingly difficult to “age” the person I last saw into the person he might have become. Oh, I can guess-but that’s hardly worth doing since we all know life rarely follows a straight path.

And that’s what defies language and steals my breath. On milestone days especially, I’m not only mourning what I have lost but also what I will never know.

It would surprise my mama most of all that on this day I’m at a loss for words.

I regularly embarrassed her with my non-stop commentary as a child. I told stories about what I heard and saw (and what my young mind THOUGHT it heard or saw) to anyone who would listen.

But I realize now there are moments too sacred, wounds too deep, experiences too precious for words.

Either you are there and share it-or you’re not-and can’t imagine.

This is one of those times.

Dominic would be thirty-two years old today if he had lived.

Read the rest here: At A Loss For Words: Another Birthday Without You

Birthdays Are…a Little Complicated

Today is my birthday.

And while I am truly grateful for another trip around the sun, since Dominic left us it’s not a simple celebration of life lived and the hope of years to come.

The last birthday I had with an unbroken family circle was a lovely surprise party for my fiftieth held in Dom’s apartment.

Eight years later and it seems a lifetime ago.

Read the rest here: Birthdays Are…Complicated

The Gift of Celebration

If you’ve just joined this awful “club” the thought of celebrating anything may make your heart shrink and your eyes fill with tears.

I understand!

That’s precisely the way I felt for a very long time. Not because I didn’t think there were still oh, so many things and people worth celebrating, but because I couldn’t remember what joy felt like much less experience it.

My heart was filled to the brim with pain, sorrow, longing and fear-there just wasn’t room for anything else.

Still, I kept up the discipline of celebration even when I wasn’t feeling like celebrating.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, as I picked my way through memories and feelings and did the  work grief required, I made space in that broken heart for other things.

And now I can testify that celebration is once again a gift!

I not only mark the big things-like birthdays and holidays-but also the little things-like making muffins with my grandson.

Any and every excuse for a photo or a cupcake!

Today is my oldest son’s birthday and his dad and I are here to celebrate it with him for the first time in I don’t honestly know how many years. I am happy to make him a yummy meal (or take him to a favorite restaurant) and buy a special treat to mark the day he said “hello” to the world.

And I’m more than happy to spend time with him and watch as he pours into his own son some of the love and life we’ve poured into him.

So if you aren’t “feeling it” try faking it or at least showing up.

Eventually there will be a moment when your heart once again embraces joy.

Then hold on with both hands! ❤

Birthdays and Wakeful Nights

Today my heart hurts more than usual.

It’s my mama’s birthday-the third one we will celebrate without her here to blow out the candles.

It’s also the third anniversary (do you call it that?) of the day Papa had to call an ambulance to rush her to the hospital.

She never came home.

Our last visit just a couple of weeks before Mama’s stroke. All the grandmas and Ryker.

These past two years have been hard. Mama’s death plunged me back into deep grief for her and for Dominic. It tapped the wound that had begun to scar over a bit and the feelings I’d learned to push down bubbled back to the surface.

I’ve just now begun to sleep through the night again most nights. For much of the past two years I’ve been waking two or three times in the dark to vividly awful dreams-my family in peril and no way to help them is the theme over and over and over.

I know other motherless daughters.

Somehow knowing Mama isn’t available on the other end of the phone or sitting in her chair, waiting for me to come through the door at the farm, makes me supremely vulnerable.

One less generation between me and whatever the world might throw at me.

I know she is healthy and whole, happy and full of joy in Heaven. I know she’s reunited with her own mama, her siblings and Dominic.

On good days, that’s enough to make the missing bearable.

But on days like today, when we should be celebrating another year together but can’t, it doesn’t help all that much.

I miss her.

I miss Dominic.

I miss the me that used to be ignorant of what death steals from the living.

Happy Birthday in Heaven, Mama. We’ll be there soon. ❤

STILL At A Loss For Words

Today is Dominic’s birthday. He would have been thirty-one if he lived.

I find as the years roll by it becomes increasingly difficult to “age” the person I last saw into the person he might have become. Oh, I can guess-but that’s hardly worth doing since we all know life rarely follows a straight path.

And that’s really what defies language and steals my breath. On milestone days especially, I’m not only mourning what I have lost but also what I will never know.

It would surprise my mama most of all that on this day I’m at a loss for words.

I regularly embarrassed her with my non-stop commentary as a child. I told stories about what I heard and saw (and what my young mind THOUGHT it heard or saw) to anyone who would listen.

But I realize now there are moments too sacred, wounds too deep, experiences too precious for words.

Either you are there and share it-or you’re not-and can’t imagine.

This is one of those times.

Dominic would be thirty-one years old today if he had lived.

Read the rest here: At A Loss For Words: Another Birthday Without You

How Do You Mark Milestones After Child Loss? Here Are Sixteen Ideas.

I’ve found myself in a bit of a writing funk these past weeks. Once January draws to a close (a short reprieve from surviving the holidays) the calendar barrels on to the anniversary of that fateful day.

This will be the seventh time I’ve weathered that period where I mark all the “lasts” and try to honor Dominic’s life and not only focus on his death.

For someone who used to be able to draw up a game plan for any occasion, I am still out of my depth when it comes to commemorating the date of my son leaving for Heaven.

So I’m sharing this again-as much for me as for anyone else. It’s just plain hard. But I hope these ideas help another heart find a way through the minefield of remembering.

Read the rest here: Child Loss: Marking the Milestones

Birthdays Are…Complicated

Today is my birthday.

And while I am truly grateful for another trip around the sun, since Dominic left us it’s not a simple celebration of life lived and the hope of years to come.

The last birthday I had with an unbroken family circle was a lovely surprise party for my fiftieth held in Dom’s apartment.

My fiftieth birthday! ❤

Seven years later and it seems a lifetime ago.

So when I wake up to another sunrise and take inventory (as those of us who reach a certain age are wont to do) on the anniversary of my birth, I count losses as well as gains.

And I wish, wish, wish that old wives’ tale about blowing out candles in a single breath were true.

Because other than the continued health of my surviving children, there’s only one wish worth the air I take in and out of my lungs-something Dominic can never do again-and that is for him to have the privilege of blowing out the candles once more.

It’s not only HIS birthday that makes my heart ache.

It’s mine.

I would have gladly traded my life for his.

But I wasn’t given that choice.

At A Loss For Words: Another Birthday Without You

It would surprise my mama most of all that on this day I’m at a loss for words.

I regularly embarrassed her with my non-stop commentary as a child. I told stories about what I heard and saw (and what my young mind THOUGHT it heard or saw) to anyone who would listen.

But I realize now there are moments too sacred, wounds too deep, experiences too precious for words.

Either you are there and share it-or you’re not-and can’t imagine.

This is one of those times.

Dominic would be thirty years old today if he had lived.

He’d be several years out of law school, on some path toward making his mark in the world, maybe (?) married, perhaps even a dad but definitely, positively here and part of our lives.

To be honest, I wouldn’t even care what his life looked like right now as long as it was LIFE.

Something very few people know and even fewer would note is that on Dominic’s birth day, the doctor who delivered him had just the day before become a bereaved parent himself. His daughter left this world by her own hand.

Another C-section, Dominic was lifted up next to my face by this sweet and vulnerable man while the tears poured down my face. I was crying for HIM not for me. I was undone that he had shown up and delivered my child while his own laid lifeless wherever they had taken her.

I thought I understood then.

But I had no clue.

I understand now.

Sometimes you show up and do what you need to because it’s the only way for a heart to survive. Sometimes you walk on because standing still leaves too much time for the horror to take root and overwhelm you.

I miss Dominic.

I miss the future we would have had together and the family we would have been if death hadn’t invaded our reality.

I would literally give anything other than the life of one I love for Dominic to be alive right now.

But it’s not an option.

So I’ll spend his birthday thinking about what we had, lamenting what we will never have, rejoicing that his faith is made sight and I’ll cry.

Because a mama’s arms are made for holding her child, not holding his memory.

Birthday Ideas? Anyone?

Some folks are great at it.

They find a tagline or a cause or even a certain color and it becomes shorthand for remembering and honoring their missing child.

Me, not so much.

Dominic wasn’t the kind of person you could sum up in a few words or a certain favorite anything.

He was a drummer, a social commentator, an adrenaline junkie, a fitness fanatic, a neat freak, a bargain hunter, a mechanic, an electronics aficionado, so very funny and a loyal and fierce friend.

He could be sarcastic and cutting.

He was nearly always brutally honest. His twitter feed is full of (sometimes misspelled) witty commentary on everyday irritations and observations. I can hear his voice in my head when I read them.

Dominic was also kind and compassionate.

He was often the kid that sat next to the kid that no one else wanted to sit with. His friends from law school told me tale after tale of how he helped them with one thing or another, how he went out of his way to be there for them and how his kindness made a difference.

He was a stubborn mule too.

When he’d established a position it took a heap of convincing to get him to change his mind. More than once he simply waited the other person out, trusting exhaustion to do the work of making his case.

His thirtieth birthday is coming up in a few days. It will be the seventh one without him.

If he was still here I’d do what I do for most milestone birthdays-create a portfolio of gift cards in an amount equal to the years. I love hunting down a recipient’s favorite places to shop and filling up the envelope.

I’m still not good at figuring out what to do about birthdays down here when he’s in Heaven and probably not even marking the day.

He would hate balloons.

He’d know none of us needed any cake.

Between now and then I’m going to try to think of something.

Any ideas?

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