Today is my birthday. I knew it would be difficult--for multiple reasons. Acknowledging--let alone celebrating--my birth when I so recently lost Ken didn't hold much interest for me. Aside from that, and even more importantly, Ken always made my birthday special--just by being himself. Whether he pulled out all the stops for my 40th birthday in 2008 with tons of gasp-inducing surprises or whether we just sat in the back yard, sipping martinis and talked and (inevitably) laughed. In either case, he always gave me a card he'd made. Those were the most important and meaningful parts of my day without exception. He loved celebrating my arrival on the planet because he delighted in knowing our paths crossed, intertwined.
The card he created and gave to me on my 40th (after an astounding day of surprises) typified what he gave me every single day.
Today the sorrow and emptiness were inescapable. Like a Looney Tunes Acme Pothole (TM) that was thrown in front of me, no matter how far I tried to back up, it just got bigger and bigger. It enveloped me. There was nothing I could do but surrender to it. And I wanted to. My heart is broken in the only way it can be when part of it is removed despite vehement--and futile--objection.
I heard his voice today. After I finished working, he urged me to stuff a couple olives with bleu cheese and shake a martini. I didn't really want to--hard to believe, I know. But I did. And I toasted to him, and all the birthdays he made so special for me. I looked at photo albums, and even watched the video taken from my aforementioned dazzling 40th birthday spectacular, rife with surprises, love and laughter. And I felt it all again. I listened to his voice purr on the video, and it made me...happy. He relished giving and surprising. And I took great delight in reliving it, focusing not on my reaction to the deluge of surprises, but in his, in being responsible for them.
There are times when I want to lock all the doors, close all the blinds and turn off every electronic device I have just to curl up in a corner and live in my memories. And I can't guarantee that won't happen--at least for an hour or two. It's hard to continue past the mesmerizing sheen of a such a beautiful shared life. You can't help but stare at it. Think about it. Be entranced by it. And miss it...desperately. When your identity becomes so intimately intertwined with another's, extricating yourself from it seems heartless and wrong.
I don't have any "a-ha" moments to share. Today was hard in spite of the love that was communicated to me via phone, text, snail mail, email, and Facebook. In retrospect, I'm sure it will have made a bigger difference than I'm able to discern today. As for me, I enter my 43rd year incomplete and more fragile than I've ever been in my life. There is a level of general discomfort and disorientation I'm completely unfamiliar with. Sometimes I'm controlled by it in a way that scares, angers, confuses, and exhausts me in equal measure.