Today is my 43rd birthday. Clayton passed away just before turning 42. I’ve officially lived a full year longer then him. That brings up a lot of emotions and I know that’s normal. Four years ago I didn’t want to celebrate that I was alive another year. I felt tremendous guilt and I thought that feeling would never go away. This past year has reminded me that nothing is forever and, in time, everything has an ending, which means there is a new beginning.
I remember being in 5th grade. I was bullied. I’d hope that I’d catch a cold or have an asthma attack because that was easier than being called those names or going to the nurse’s office to avoid being beat up in the boys room. I’d just keep reminding myself that nothing was forever and soon I’d have a new beginning.
“Just 7 more years and you’ll graduate. None of these jerks will matter once you can leave and go wherever you want. You can be you.”
Seventeen years old and I feared my 18th birthday. I had made it those 7 years and was in college. I had told myself when I was younger that those strange feelings would go away. By 18 I was sure I’d grow out of being gay but what if it doesn’t go away? I told myself if I’m still feeling like this at 18 I’ll begin to embrace who I’m supposed to be.
Free to be me, I started to dream about my life openly. By the time I was 40, I would have a husband, a family, a home. By that point I’d certainly be settled down and living my version of a fairytale ending. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think at 40 I’d be widowed and beginning all over again.
This is my 4th birthday moving forward. Birthday 1 was a blur. Birthday 2 hurt. Birthday 3 was in lockdown but birthday 4 has brought the unexpected. This year has taught me so much about who I am and who I want to be. This year has shown me that I can honor my past, adore my present and have faith in the future. I’ve spent time on me, I’ve honored who I’ve become and that has allowed me to be better for others.
So I’m not on the fairytale timeline that I thought I’d have when I dreamt of my future. Some may feel disappointed but that’s because we set our goals on a timeline we can’t control. It truly isn’t the destination that is the most important it is the journey. Four years ago I thought that my dreams had died forever but today I realize that my story is not done being written. Cheers to life, cheers to love and cheers to the lessons gifted by grief. Today I’m 43 and excited to step into my next new beginning…