I woke up not remembering. I didn't remember until I traced the lethargy.
Why do I feel so horrible today? Why do I want to skip the next 24 hours? What is happening today that I'm dreading, dreading, dreading?
The same thing happened to me on my brother's wedding anniversary, the first year after his divorce was final. When a date is etched into my mind, my subconscious will always be aware when the date arrives yet again. It will whisper to me in dry, gray tones until I finally read the memo.
I went to sleep on Friday night with the full knowledge that the following morning was Robb's birthday. But when I woke up, I didn't remember. It wasn't until I could barely move, when I was buried underneath an invisible reminder.
And then it hit me with gale forces, nearly sending me straight back to bed. Except that I had two little boys to whom I had promised donuts for breakfast. I doled out that promise when my heart was lighter with the promise of traditions.
I followed through with the donuts. And that was the end of celebrating on Saturday.
I could not celebrate, would not celebrate. I resisted every 'should' that came to my mind. And I will resist yours too if you tell me right now how I could have honored my husband better this past Saturday, as he turned 36. Or would have turned 36.
I remembered him all day.
I remembered the six years in a row that I ruined his birthday cake. Six years in a row. (Birthday cakes are just not really my gig, although I aspire to dreams of Cupcake Wars and Food Network Challenge. It's all a big farse.)
I remembered breakfasts in bed and run-away-days and surprising him with donuts at the office and teaching little boys to celebrate and struggling to find the perfect gift for the man who really wanted nothing at all.
I remembered his birthday last year, when we planned an impromptu out-of-town excursion for the four of us, complete with a hotel pool, late night movies, jumping on the bed, and bbq pulled pork, although not all of those together in the same scene.
I rememberd him all day. And I have done so for 8 months and 5 days.
And in honor of his birthday, I took the day off. I told myself yes all day.
Extra donuts? Yes.
Starbucks three times? Yes.
Five hours at the pool? Yes.
No celebrating? Yes.
It is insanely impossible to celebrate the birthday of someone who has been recently stolen from me. It's like buying baby clothes after the miscarriage has been confirmed: it cannot be done without a high degree of lying to oneself.
I remember him always. I celebrate him everyday.
And on his birthday, a day that I have forever cherished, I let it pass me by, one hour at a time.
This was perhaps the hardest milestone yet.
But don't you worry: there's another one right around the corner. There is an unbelievable amount of holidays in a year.
I've never been so eager to watch the calendar pages fly, and never have I been so desperate to simultaneously make them all stop their blessed turning.
Happy Birthday to you, Robb. August 27 will never, ever - never, ever in my life - be the same.