In 2012, I made a list of 37 birthday wishes, and the first one was this: I wish for a second lifetime with my Travis.
This is my first birthday post-divorce. I can’t say it’s the first one without him, or the first one I’ve spent alone, because if I didn’t plan something for my own birthday, then we wouldn’t do anything. I always made his day nice, with a surprise party with friends the year he went through cancer treatments.
My day tended to go by like any other day, without notice. This was a bitter thing, last year, because I’d looked forward to my 42nd birthday since I was 9 years old, and read The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the first time. And we did nothing, even though I asked. Honestly, a happy birthday hug would have gone a long way.
This imbalance of care was one of the many things that finally destabilized our marriage. I didn’t feel loved. He went out of his way to take care of any woman who wasn’t me. Turns out he took special care of one particular 23 year old. In fact, he made sure she had a couple of nice birthdays, while he was at it. Because of course he did.
But I digress. It’s my day, and I’m not going to spend it talking about them.
I’m not writing today because it’s my birthday, and I’m sad. I can’t possibly write while sad. I definitely can’t use writing to help me process it, right?
Writing is the best way for me to process anything. This is something I seem to have to relearn, over and over. Is it a safe bet to assume, since you’re also participating in this writing challenge, that your mind works the same way? The act of writing indexes my memories and makes them richer. I get to enjoy the experiences again when I think about them in detail while writing. Often I don’t know what I think or how I feel until I write my way through it. I think more deeply, and feel more easily with a pen in my hand. When I don’t write, I don’t process anything. It just kind of pings off me, instead.
This day is so hard. I’ve decided to let myself grieve the situation, but also look for a way to enjoy the day.
Here’s what I’m doing:
* Candles for warmth and comfort. (Saint Poe)
* Calling family and friends for connection.
* Pie and coffee, because pie. And coffee.
* Load ink into each fountain pen, and put it next to a new journal.
* Sponsoring a child in need. I want to make a difference in my one wild and precious life.
* A fuzzy blanket from a friend, wrapped around me. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Literally. (I texted her to tell her how special it is.)
I’m doing things to mark the day, instead of pretending it’s not happening. I’ve never minded aging. I don’t really think about it, honestly, the same way I’m not shocked when I get up and the world is still turning. I felt older and more tired in my 20s than I did in my 30s. I’m going to make my 40s into a good life.
Today I will try to soften into feeling what comes to me, instead of shutting it down.
And I’ll write, even though I’m sad.