What a rollercoaster of a week it has been. Last Friday was both Erik’s and the twins’ birthdays. I used to love this day. How special it was that they shared a birthday with their father. How special Erik felt that he got his legacies as a birthday gift. Now I am conflicted about this day. Feeling both sad that Erik will never be able to celebrate another birthday, not only for the twins, but himself, and yet feeling happy because the twins made another trip around the sun. I had to realize and accept that I could feel both the strong emotions of being happy and sad all at the same time and also everything in between. I used to think the lead up to this day was always worst than the day itself, but both proved to be just as hard this second time around as the first.
As I lay awake at 3:45 am on Friday morning still unable to sleep I stared at the two beautiful little souls next to me and wondered ‘how was this now our reality?’ That question passes through my mind quite a few times a day even after almost a year and a half. How is this my reality now? How is this their reality now?
This year’s celebration was a little different. Erik and I loved throwing parties and that was always the plan for all their birthdays. Last year was the first birthday party without him. As the night wound down and the noise settled and I put them to bed this overwhelming knot-wrenching feeling hit me that I hadn’t experienced through that day. The feeling of realizing I had just celebrated their birthday and honored his, without him. He was gone. He would never celebrate another birthday for him or for them ever again. That feeling was so strong that it sunk in. At that moment I realized I couldn’t do this without him anymore. I didn’t want to do this without him anymore. I didn’t want to celebrate in this way without him by my side. So it was then that night last year that I decided to celebrate in a different way.
Traveling and sharing adventures was our thing. We knew we wanted to pass this love to them. They began traveling as newborns with us. So this year as a way to honor Erik and also celebrate their birthdays I decided we would be taking a birthday trip each year as a family and share in those experiences we had always imagined. With our trip in November this year, I decided to fill the week with birthday activities for them. Sometimes I feel as if I put myself in all these distractions as a way to not think or feel the grief of celebrating yet another birthday without him. What I didn’t account for was the uneasy feelings that came after all the celebrations. These feelings were overwhelming. More than the lead up or the day of. I couldn’t understand why. The feelings of how this was life now. The knowing that he would never come back (even if I already knew that). The feeling of being alone yet knowing my babies are right here next to me and feeling guilty for feeling alone. The knowing that we would never share another family adventure together with him. These feelings caused an onset of tears that I wasn’t prepared for. The celebrations were done. I got through them. So why was I feeling this now? Because I miss him. I miss what was. I miss what could never be again. I just miss him.
Not only was my reality now different, but so are the realities for the twins. They were more aware of this birthday celebration than last. Which meant the questions started coming. Is it my birthday mama? And daddy’s too? As we were walking to the car for one of their celebrations they look up and go “Daddy’s in the sky mama,” “Is Daddy in the sky mama?” Charlotte proceeded to look up and say “Why no come down?” as she questioned with her hand movements. I felt the stabbing pain in my heart at that moment. And again the tears streamed down. As we started driving they kept with the comments about Dad being in the sky. Then they went on to sing happy birthday to him. It’s moments like this where I wish I could ease that yearning they didn’t yet understand. That feeling they may or may not remember from Dad. That want of dad. Knowing the idea, seeing the pictures, but not truly remembering the person.
These are the moments when reality hits, just all too harshly.