Good morning, my handsome boy!
Getting to the point of writing to you this week has been quite the process. Mentally more than anything. I didn't write last week. I 'talk' to you frequently. I write elsewhere. What I didn't realize is that my writing here affected so many different people.
At the end of Tuesday last week, into Wednesday, and throughout the weekend, I had texts, e-mail, phone calls, and Facebook messages asking if I was okay and heard over and over how my letter to you had been missed. I am actually writing this on Wednesday morning. You know why. The reasons aren't applicable to anyone else.
It's interesting that when I write, I don't know what I'm going to write until the words come tumbling out onto the page. It takes me a long time to write each letter. Some things are just too personal to share, yet some of those things are exactly what need to be shared, so the words get moved, and changed, and deleted, and rewritten.
Does what I share make any difference? After the messages received last week, that answer is yes.
So, I'm back.
July has been tough so far. Not going to lie. July is our family's favorite month. We have so many traditions. It's your birth month. This month will also be the six month mark of you being gone.
As each tradition approaches, we have to figure out how to keep our promise to you of keeping that tradition, but mix into that tradition the fact that you're gone and it just isn't the same, and we end up with something that is different. Challenging. Emotional. Really hard.
When we come out on the other side of that tradition, there is relief. Happiness, yes, mixed in with that relief and tinged with a certain amount of sadness.
Our family has always been about happiness, love, memories, tradition. Your return to Heavenly Father doesn't change that. You want us to be happy. You want us to live. You want us to make memories and honor traditions and remember you with smiles and laughter. We do that. Or try to.
Nancy Guthrie said, "Your love for the person you lost is not defined by your ongoing misery."
Happiness is a choice.
That was the choice we made back in June of 2012 (and even before that, it just became a more pronounced choice when you were diagnosed). Millie's mom has been using that as a hashtag on her photos as their little family moves forward without Millie. I asked her permission to use it also. It makes sense. And in surviving, navigating this crazy grief process, it's necessary.
Don't get me wrong, the tears still come. Often. Sometimes without warning. I think it will be that way for a very long time. It has to be that way. We love you so deeply and miss you so much that there is an incredibly deep hole in our lives without you.
Friday is your birthday. We will be honoring you and celebrating you. And missing you. The other day I found myself planning your birthday breakfast (puffy pancakes with strawberry jam) and wondering where you would choose to go for lunch. I'm making those puffy pancakes on Friday morning because they're your favorite. McKayslin picked you out some shiny birthday balloons. They're up at the cemetery.
I'm trying not to be really angry about the fact that we have to celebrate without you this year. And every year from here on out. Sometimes I'm successful. Right now is not one of those times. I want to be buying you new Schleich animals. And a shotgun. And making your favorite foods. And singing happy birthday to YOU. And taking your birthday trip.
Happiness IS a choice. That doesn't mean that choosing to be happy is easy. And I refuse to pretend that I'm happy all the time. Because I'm not. You know that.
When people ask how I am, I say fine.
Fine is relative according to the day and the emotions that are manifest that day. But also, fine, because honestly, people don't really want to know. Some do, I know who they are. That question is a question of habit.
I am sometimes genuinely happy.
I refuse to feel guilty about that.
You'd be angry with me if I did.
What I'm learning is that emotions sometimes come quickly, catch me by surprise.
Often I am surprised with a happy memory, one where I can almost hear your laugh.
I love those.
Other times I am surprised with a tender memory, one where I can almost feel your hug.
I love those.
And then there are the times when I am slammed with sadness and grief and hurt so deep that it's honestly a physical ache. Gratefully those times don't come as often and don't last as long as the memories. I strongly believe that is a tender mercy from Heavenly Father.
How do we do this every day?
My question to answer that is how do we not?
What choice do we have?
Isolating ourselves in our grief and pain doesn't help anyone - specifically not us.
Are we as strong as everyone seems to believe? Probably not.
Are we strong? Yes.
But we're not without weakness, or flaw, or pain.
We need to be needed.
We are human.
We are grieving.
But we're also choosing to live, to love, to remember, to honor, and to choose happiness.
Happy almost birthday, my handsome warrior.
Wish you were here.
Love you, LOVE YOU!