Last week, Tony was supposed to have his 46th birthday, but he is forever 43.
Today is my 44th birthday.
Each birthday since he passed has been a death milestone. The first one after he passed, then the one where I was as old as he ever will be, and finally now I am older than him. This birthday marks what all the rest of my birthdays will be. No matter how long I live, from now until the end of my days, I will always be older than Tony.
With our birthdays being four days apart, I have tracked our ages together since we started dating in 2003. In the 18 years we were together, I never thought about the possibility of being older than him. I don’t think many of us ever imagine how the death of our partner may shift how we look at our age.
If I ever thought about our deaths, I went with a cinematic romanticized death. The sweet couple lying together in bed as the Titanic goes down always brings tears to my eyes. Allie and Noah in The Notebook, recounting their love story with visits from their children and grandchildren. Although, I wanted that without the dementia. But those movie-ending style deaths are hardly anyone’s reality, and they definitely weren’t our reality.
I am feeling pretty melancholy about turning 44. This is expected after dreading this birthday since he died. A gloomy birthday is fine, it is okay to sit in my feelings and give them space. Not every birthday has to be full of copious amounts of joy. Even though I won’t be a bubbly birthday gal, it doesn’t mean I won’t appreciate everyone who has reached out and shown me love. They are my bright space today. I will always be thankful for the people in my life who have continued to love me through this storm.
Then tomorrow, I will wake up and be one day past this milestone too. There is something empowering about getting to the other side of these tough days. Sometimes, I even wake up with a sigh and give myself a pat on the back for getting through another tough one.