I'm feeling a mix of emotions today layered with guilt over all the "shoulds".
I should be excited to go on a retreat. I should feel happy because it's my birthday. I should be able to text people back a simple "thanks" or acknowledge their birthday wishes with a "like". I should be able to sit in this tattered airport chair without my eyes filling with tears. But I can't.
It's my 38th birthday and the person I want to spend it with the most isn't here. It's my 38th birthday and my husband, who bragged about being 12 days older than me, is permanently stuck at age 35.
It doesn't feel fair. It doesn't feel fair to look forward to things like widow retreats. It doesn't feel fair that some of my closest friends are people I only met because our husbands died young.
It hurts. It hurts to not get a hug and a happy birthday with from Greg. It hurts to celebrate my birthday because I know it's important to model celebration for my son even when it feels like another day to endure.
But there is also a duality of emotions. With the sorrow is excitement and gratitude. I can't wait to get a hug from these sisters of mine that I haven't seen in person for a year. I can't wait to take a nap on the plane, to sit beside goegeous torqois waters, and to worship Jesus together even through our tears.
I'm also grateful. Grateful for another year of life. Grateful that I no longer feel like I'm barely surviving each day. Grateful for the birthday texts and messages, the presents and the people who love me and want to celebrate me. Grateful for my son who clung to me so tight this morning and didn't want to let me go. Grateful for the honor and gift of being his mom- for being the parent who is still on earth with him.
So it's messy.
My first birthday after Greg died I thought of as "Survival Birthday". The second felt lighter and I was able to enjoy it in some ways even though I dreaded its arrival. This third one, falling on my second widow retreat, is bringing a whole host of emotions with it.
I wonder what the fourth with be like and the ones after. Will it always have this tinge of longing and sadness? Will I feel more able to celebrate as time goes by?
One thing is for sure- I do not take being alive for granted. I do not take another birthday for granted nor do I bemoan getting older. Not everyone gets to get older and watch their kids do the same. What a gift!
So I am grateful for the gift of today. Even though it holds many sorrows that I wish would come untrue.