I don’t do birthdays well. Let me clarify, I don’t do my birthday well and it has nothing to do with that number creeping closer to the big 40. Yes- I’m getting close. I’m not teetering on the edge just yet, but a card from my aunt reminded me that it’s not far away. Aging has never been an issue with me. Thirty came and went without any hitches. In fact I’m much more comfortable with the person I am now than I ever was in my twenties. No, my issues don’t stem from vanity of growing old, but rather a day full of memories from the first time I saw my husband cry. The day our oldest son was born.
I should be getting ready for a party, or maybe not. I’m not sure that parties are cool for teenagers. He may prefer to have a couple friends over and celebrate with cake. But would it be chocolate or white? And would he want money or a gift? I have no clue what to buy or what he’d like. Books, games, music or clothes? Of course then I’d have to know sizes and taste. Probably money would be the best.
Would he have blue eyes like mine or my husbands deep chocolate brown? Light or dark hair? Hopefully, like his brothers, he’d have his father’s height. And would he be a doting big brother providing strength and guidance to my two younger sons or would they be a thorn in his side? He’d be at the age where girls are important, and I’m not sure that I’d be ready for that.
I’d probably be upset about a messy room or music being too loud. I may even be overwhelmed with the idea of having to help with homework and trying to wrangle him into the shower and bed. Getting three boys up in the morning and dropped off at three different schools would definitely be a task. My twelve year old is starting to show a major attitude, so I’m sure by now he would have already introduced us to the joys of having a teenager. Joys I’ll never get to experience with him.
I’ll never get to meet his wife or kids. Or be excited when he gets his first job or buys a house. There will be no high school or college graduation. No teaching him how to drive. No fishing or hunting trips with his dad. I’ll never know about girlfriends or crushes or even a first kiss. There was no first day of school, no first steps, or babbling his first words. In fact I never heard so much as a tiny cry. Born too early with lungs too weak, he was gone before I ever got the chance to tell him that I loved him.
Three hundred and sixty-four days out of the year, I do pretty well. There are days that I don’t think of him and yes admitting that makes me feel guilty. It’s the same when someone ask me how many children I have and I say two. The only thing I know to say, is that it’s called coping and dealing and learning to live on and every person does this in their own way. But today is his day and although we share it, it’s not one that I like to celebrate. We will, of course. My boys will insist.
There will be no surprises, because my husband understands my need for this day to go smoothly and without any unexpected occurrences. He’s planned dinner out for just the four of us. We’ll eat and smile and laugh, but my husband and I both will be thinking of the little boy who’s missing. The little boy who should be at the table but isn’t. A baby that opened a gap in our hearts that will never be filled.The other birthday we should be celebrating.
Happy Birthday Michael.