It was our birthday last week. It’s been the hardest day of each of the 4 years since Michael died. I have no idea why. It’s not the day he died, not Christmas, not our wedding anniversary. Our shared birth day is THE most sucky day of  the year. Overwhelming panic and pain; that’s how I’d describe it.

I try to get perspective on my feelings by considering Michael’s dad, how he may feel on the birthday of his eldest son, with both his sons now passed away. It helps to calibrate somewhat but then my heart breaks a little more. How can a parent bear that?

This year has been a little better. I decided to try and meet it halfway, ok maybe a quarter way. To ‘participate’ perhaps, instead of being a victim to the winds and the rage.

A lung-opening hike always helps. To bring the breath back that feels so impossible to pull in yourself.

Spending time in a place we loved again was some comfort, this time having company made it better. Having another human witness my grief was challenging, but illuminating. It was embarrassing but not shameful. Usually the painful moments feel so shameful if anyone is around.

I got a gift on our birthday from a most unexpected source. An acquaintance really. A kind soul with a lot of life experience. In just a few hours she gave me perspective and showed me another way to feel it and survive.

An active remembering. Rituals I guess. My psych(s) have talked about having rituals, but the word itself is so off-putting. Am I joining a cult or something?!

My friend bought the candle as a birthday present (matches in pocket too).

She had selected a poem to read to us.

Baked a cake.

Each item presented naturallly as if they were no bother. As normal as buttering a bread roll. How can she know to do this?

We sang, we cried, we laughed. A huge sea eagle swooped low around our tree, ‘Michael!’ she cried and ran to her feet to follow it circle away and come back again.  So uninhibited. When I grow up I want to be just like her, 76 years young.

A birthday to remember, gifted from a place of pain.

She shared my BBQ shapes with enthusiasm. Michael would like that.