My birthday is in a few days.
I love my birthday. Summer birthdays- especially those in August!- were never that fun when I was a kid, because you didn’t get a classroom celebration (except for maybe a lamers one at the end of the school year) and a lot of your friends would be on vacation elsewhere when the actual day rolled around. I also had to contend with my brother’s birthday being two days after mine, but you get used to that.
As I grew into an adult I came to embrace it though. I’ve particularly always enjoyed figuring out the list of folks who I share the day with- Alfred Hitchcock, Jocelyn Elders, Don Ho, Fidel Castro, legendary Newcastle United #9 Alan Shearer…
And since I moved away from home when I was 18, one of my favorite cringe-worthy traditions has been my parents calling me early in the morning (roughly around the time of my birth) to sing me Happy Birthday in their own delightfully out of tune way.
This time, to mark my 43rd trip around the sun, and every time after this, that tradition is going to be forever changed. Dad’s gone, so I’ll only hear my mom’s voice from now on.
There is a voice in my head that tells me I shouldn’t make this such a big deal.
But it is.
When you don’t get to spend your birthdays (or most holidays for that matter) with your family, those little threads that do connect you matter. And when one of them is snipped, it’s gonna hurt. For a while. And these hits are going to keep coming, I can tell.
But I want to talk about the voice that tells me it shouldn’t matter. I’ve noticed this voice popping up a lot- it seems to want to tell me that I’ve grieved long enough, that those days when I’m a mopey sad sack (though fewer than before) are inconvenient to those around me. That I should cut it out and get on with things.
And while part of me says “FUCK YOU” in response, a larger part of me accepts this reasoning and tries to tuck the sad feelings away. Either option hurts, for different reasons. I don’t want to feel like I’m being selfish in my grief. But I also don’t want to forget these feelings and the memories that cause them.
This seems like a symptom of some larger cultural struggle. I don’t know.
I just know it fucking hurts, no matter what I do.