Last week for my birthday some of my friends weren’t sure it was appropriate to say “happy” birthday. I felt loved and grateful for their concern. It’s hard to know how to care for someone on celebratory days who’s trying to live with such a huge void.
Sometimes people say, “Drey would want you to celebrate and be happy. Drey would want you to put up a Christmas tree. Drey wouldn’t want you to be sad on Mother’s Day – he’d want you to enjoy a delicious dinner and relaxing day.” My own husband has said these things. Sometimes I’ve even asked Robbie, “Drey wouldn’t want me to cry all day, right?” Desperately searching for some kind of direction – for some kind of peace – maybe even permission to not feel the pain as intensely – even if just for that day.
Mostly when people try to kindly say, “Drey would want you to be happy,” I want to verbally spar with them. “If Drey didn’t want me to be sad on my birthday why did he kill himself? If he wanted me to enjoy future Mothers Days why did he choose this horrible violent death over life? Can you answer those questions?” I don’t say these things but sometimes I think them. I know people mean well. I know my husband means well. He saw my son and I together and he knew Drey loved me. Robbie is sure Drey couldn’t possibly have wanted me to suffer through special days. And I know he’s right. But it doesn’t matter. Being right about that just isn’t helpful at this point in the grief. I’m still left facing years of celebrations to come without my boy.
With all of that said I did have a happy birthday. “Happy” looks and feels different than it used to but it was still a nice day. My Mom made me feel like the most wonderful person in the world. And I was and am grateful for soooo many dear friends – and for people who don’t know me that well! – who care enough to say happy birthday 🙂 I’m blessed beyond belief in spite of how this life now looks for me. I was always amazingly blessed – but temporarily losing what I thought was most important has helped me find what is truly most important.