My whole life, I have loved two months of the year more than any other: July and December.
My birthday is in July, and I have long cherished every day of this month of ice cream cones, fireworks, swimming, and picnics. With my birthday tucked at the end, the cherry on top.
And then Robb and I chose to get married on July 22. Two days before my birthday.
(I turned 21 on our honeymoon. Wasn't I such a baby girl? 21. And my friends and I were so impressed with Robb, a real man at age 24. Whew! Maturity defined, undoubtedly.)
And then Robb died, two days before Christmas.
My two favorite holidays have rested at a polarized axis across the calendar. Now a dark cloud of blackest heartache looms just two days before each one.
These four dates will never change for the rest of my life. More will be added, but those four will never change.
How do I resist the pull to relinquish the joy attached to the days I have loved?
How do I keep this cycle from becoming an annual self-fulfilling prophesy?
I said to my therapist, "I have always loved July. Now I am beginning to hate July."
She said, "We need to change that."
"Well, we need to get you excited about your birthday."
"But I'm not. I want to skip it."
"But your boys want to celebrate it. And they need to learn to. For the rest of their lives, that day will matter to them. And Robb would be teaching them now how to love you well. You need to acknowledge the day, Tricia. Have a birthday. For your little boys."
I've got to learn to love July again. And somehow, someday, December, too.