Monday, August 8, 2011

A New Birthday Norm

By Kate Collins

That I was dreading my birthday was an understatement. All last week I wept every morning about not having my husband there to celebrate with me. Why celebrate at all? What was there to feel good about?

In the past, my special day would start with a surprise – a gift my husband had chosen and then hid. I’d open a cabinet, drawer, refrigerator, or whatever, and there would be a wrapped box. He always made it exciting. Then we’d go in to Chicago to dine at one of our favorite restaurants with our daughters, who live there. Years past, our sons lived there, too, and we’d all gather together to eat and laugh and eat some more.

This year, my kids went into action. My daughter organized a surprise party and together with her brother and stepsister, decorated, cooked, grilled, baked, and, most importantly, ordered me out of the kitchen. I was told not to even think about helping. I had to sit on my hands for a few hours, but what a treat!

All of the people who are closest to me came, the ones who have lifted me up these past months and helped me stay grounded. The day passed and I smiled most of the way through it. And all the while, I felt my husband’s presence. I could almost hear him saying, “Way to go, sweetheart. Honor my life by enjoying yours.”

At the end of the day I sat down with my laptop and a glass of wine and read my Facebook messages. There were nearly 300 birthday wishes and that finally did bring me to tears.

What a day this has been. It was not my normal birthday, for sure, but it also wasn’t anything to dread. Next up is my wedding anniversary, another “first” to get through without my beloved Greek. The kids are already making plans, however, so I’m in good hands.

Have you had to get through a special day without someone you loved? How did you do it?