A Birthday Present for Someone Passed

Today is your birthday. Happy Birthday!

You have been gone for just about four years now, yet every single day I am reminded how very present you are with me still.

I still remember the last day that I saw you. It was two days shy of a month after your birthday … on my birthday. At the time, I believed that the Universe was almost adding insult to injury – we both knew what was coming, and our last day together being my birthday seemed like a cruel joke – but I now consider it a gift, because you are now forever tied to a date that I celebrate in a big way publicly, and in an even bigger way privately.  You knew how much my own birthday meant to me, and now you are permanently a part of the rest of them. Two days less than a month from today, you will be celebrating with me. Thank you. (Apologies to the Universe, too; my head was up my ass.)

I’ve written about you many times (I will be questioning you later to see if you read everything like you said you would!). The very first book I published was a coloring book, of all things, and that was solely because of you; I don’t draw, but I started to after you left – after I wrote out my grief and insanity enough to fill a few notebooks and then ran out of things to say (I know! Wow!). I remember clearly the day I picked up the Sharpie and started doodling on the back cover of the last notebook.

Your passing made me question my beliefs about life itself and life after death, and positively validated all of them – once I reached a point that I was able to start looking at things objectively and without anger.

The lessons you learned for and about yourself during the course of your illness put you in a position to show me (not tell) how to be a better person. I remember one disagreement we’d had that you’d handled so thoughtfullydespite the fact that it might have been caused by some unrealistic expectations on my end. (Maybe.) I was so taken aback by your considerate and fair handling of it that I’d questioned if you were “always like this.” You immediately answered that you were not, and that you were sad that it took the Big C to make you learn that and so many other things. I remember telling my sister about that situation and how she cried at your thoughtfulness – something she’d never experienced to that degree before, either.

My experience of that lesson (and others) of yours have made me very aware of how I react in situations of disagreement (yes, I can even see when I’m being an ass).

That awareness has carried over into many other areas of my life.

I have learned to really believe in the adage, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I used to think I believed it already, but it goes so much deeper than its first-understood meaning. That has helped me recently, in matters of acceptance over losses I experienced that I have been quite … less-than-willing to resign myself to.

The level of connection we had here is still present. Being able to see it has allowed me to be aware of more connectedness with others around me and the degrees of different connections – and to appreciate all of them.

Our conversations held very little ‘small’ talk. There was no time for that. You were put in a position that called on you to micro-analyze you and everything around you. Through you, I was able to begin to learn to see the ‘bigger picture’ in a way I could not have on my own.

These are only some of the gifts I got from you that I’m aware of. Each day shines a light on something new.

Your gift to me was your presence in my life and your ongoing influence. Thank you. I said this three years ago (A Special Birthday), and I’m saying it again: “It is in this that I find more reasons to celebrate the day of your birth than to solely mourn your passing.” Your birth presented me with so many gifts.
My gift to you is the life that you will continue to live through me.

Happy Birthday.

Does any of this mean I’m happy with all that has happened? No. I would definitely rather be able to look into your face and see the smile that even cancer couldn’t dim; but it does mean that I can find many, many positive and even happy things that would not have occurred if things had been different. I learned, also, that because I have no control over anything other than myself that I should stop wasting energy on futile attempts at control – something I hadn’t realized I did (at least not to the extent that I do).  

I’m pretending that I’m telling you this to your face instead of putting it out into the Universe this way (either way, I know you can hear me), and I can see your smile. It’s a little smug at first because you know you got through my thick skull, and then it just shines on me happily.

And I know just what you’ll say in response:



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