There are days. And then there are Days.
There are holidays. And then there are Holidays.
When I say there are 'days', I'm talking about the ones that happen every single morning. The starting-over nature of it all, the begin again. Another day. Another cycle of managing routines, dressing children, feeding them, and making sure I eat, too. Those are the 'days.'
And then there are Days. Days when I find his handwriting on a note in my desk drawer. Days when I get a reminder text from my electronic calendar, a reminder that he set long ago. Days when I encounter someone who somehow didn't know that he's not alive anymore, and I must tell them. Days when I find a car wash coin in the ash tray of my car, a something he left behind to remind and take care of. Days when I think about opening the door of my office closet and encountering the pile of things I haven't yet been able to look at, such as the cardboard box that holds his desk supplies, complete with a finger paintings from the boys and beloved coffee mugs. Those are the 'Days.'
There are holidays. Like Valentine's Day, Easter - the two that we've checked off our list of milestones yet this year. These are holidays that belong to everyone. Everybody in America marks their calendar and pays attention on those days, for their own reasons. Those holidays are hard for me, because we had our traditions and special somethings we did to make these grand scale holidays our very own. I mark the calendar, I plan ways to spend the day, and I watch the clock on those days, waiting to survive, waiting for it to be tomorrow.
And then there are Holidays. These are the special ones, the ones that belonged just to us. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Dates that annually change the facts of our family. These days are hardest of all; they may not matter to everyone, but they matter to me. They matter in my core; they are dates that defined us. Things we awaited, celebrated, planned for and remembered. They are ours.
They were ours. They were his. They are mine. (I don't know how to write that sentence. Tenses and possessives are tricky, unkind games with my mind.)
This week is filled with all of those. Days, days, a holiday, and a Holiday.
This weekend is Mother's Day. It is a holiday that belongs to anyone who has a mom, anyone who is a mom, and it is my first Mother's Day without the man who made me a mom. And let me tell you, Robb *did* Mother's Day. He did it well. He planned, orchestrated, bought, wrapped, honored, celebrated, and cherished, all the livelong day. (Even before our children were born, he honored me on Mother's Day, in anticipation of who he knew I would become.) I am embarrassed to say, but it is no less true: Never Once, not Once, did Father's Day compare to his grandiose plans for Mother's Day. He loved me well, and he taught our boys to follow suit.
And I must somehow do this Sunday without him.
But one day before Sunday? On Saturday of this week?
Tyler will turn four.
Our kids birthdays were (are?) a big deal to us (me?). We planned surprises and traditions. We celebrated. We said goodbye to two and hello to three. We shopped together, choosing our very favorite surprises for the little birthday boy at our house, whichever one it may be, in September or May. We didn't do big birthday parties with themes and favors and extravagance. We weren't opposed to such indulgence, but we wanted to wait until the boys were old enough to anticipate the fun with us. So instead, we did us. In ways big and small, we did birthdays.
And at the end of the day, he and I would hold hands under the covers and say, "Hey, he's one now." Or, "Hey, you. You have a two-year-old."
This week, my little boy turns four. And I feel torn; I wish to skip it all, pretend it didn't happen, make him stay three, and keep our family just the same as it was when Robb was with us. But before you go feeling sad for Tyler, know that I will never, for all of my days, let his birthday pass without fanfare. That sweet child will be celebrated, for all that he is, for all that his third year was, for all that his fourth year will be.
Celebrate, we will.
And somehow, Monday will arrive. Mother's Day will have happened, and Tyler will be four. Somehow.
And maybe, by writing about the fears and heartache today, maybe I can set them aside in lieu of balloons, cake, fanfare, and loud. Maybe. Or maybe I just want to write about them. Name them. Acknowledge them. Because they will assuredly argue to be the invisible guests at my son's birthday. And by God's grace, I won't let them steal the show.
Gird yourself, tender, aching heart.
You've got a marathon to run this week.