Another day

For my birthday on Wednesday morning, I woke up and cried for a bit. It was one of those “good” cries, where I really got myself into the moment and the memories and the sadness. I had the day off from work. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be much more than just another day off.

Stephanie wasn’t there to wake me up with breakfast and a candle in my breakfast, and a present that she had specifically picked for me to open in the morning. She didn’t excitedly wish me a happy birthday when I woke (or the night prior when it hit midnight). There was no homemade card from her detailing just how much she celebrates me and loves me. She always made it so apparent how thankful she was that I was born on that day X number of years before. There was no “birthday week” celebration for the whole week. There wasn’t a surprise lunch to bring to work with a sweet note and small present in it. And dinner wasn’t my favorite dish lovingly made.

So, it was just a day off. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t feel like my birthday. I had someone say to me that birthdays do feel more and more like just another day the older you get. I’m sure that’s true for some people, but not for me and not for us. And we made sure of that for each other. Birthdays were often better than previous years.

So that’s how my day went. Not bad, but not special. I went to see Tron: Legacy in 3D by myself. It was a great movie and fun to see it and I quite enjoyed it, so that was good.

I will say that I do feel very loved, and I’m so thankful for that. I had about 154 birthday wishes on my Facebook wall. I’m pretty sure that’s a record for me. Thank you all for that. And I’m told by my mom how loved I am based on all the help/support/money that people are putting into my birthday party. I can’t wait for it.

I really just pray that I can get into it. As I’ve been doing, to fully embrace whatever emotions I have, but that I could really just allow it to be a strong memory (whether good or bad for how I’m feeling – that it’s at least strong because it meant something). God wants me to prosper and I’m fully aware of that. I can’t prosper if I pretend my emotions aren’t there, and I can’t prosper if I don’t fully embrace every moment.


It has been nearly five years that I’ve had to hear about it. Every now and then it would come up and it gave her so much of a thrill to tease me. I’m pretty sure it was less than a week after my 25th birthday that she brought it up for the first time. I’m talking about the birthday party she was planning to throw for me when I turned 30.

January 12. This Wednesday. Sucks again that she’s gone.

I know most of you probably missed many of the parties she threw, but let me tell you how Stephanie puts together a party. Every party has a theme, and that theme envelopes every last detail. For instance, my 25th was a theme of miniatures. (I have an unhealthy obsession with anything that’s miniature.) The cake was tiered simply to accommodate cupcakes. Each cupcake had a circular tag stuck in it depicting something about my life. There were cocktail hot dogs and mini burgers and mini grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken nuggets.

I’ve always loved my birthday and Stephanie has always felt strongly about how special a person feels for his or her birthday (and the entire week). I’ll be excited for my birthday no matter how old I get – age doesn’t bother me. And Stephanie went to every length to make me feel so special. She’s literally had an idea for my 30th birthday since the week following my 25th birthday, and she has casually teased me with that fact over the years. I’m pretty sure the theme has changed a few times, but only because she thought of something better. She would taunt me, “I came up with an even better idea for your 30th birthday. It’s going to be incredible.” Oh, I couldn’t wait! (If only I knew what else 30 years would bring.)

I’ve been anticipating this 1 month for nearly 60 months and yet 3 months shy of it, my wife passed away. I have no problem sharing with you that I yelled at God about that. A lot. It ran through my mind a number of times while I was in the hospital. I’m not going to get to have my birthday party. Obviously, it wasn’t the worst pain of them all, but it certainly didn’t help the situation.

In line with my aversion to change, I’m trying to keep things as close as possible to what they were supposed to be this year. It’s why Thanksgiving was still at my parents’ house as usual. It’s why I had a Christmas tree and other decorations up based on the way Stephanie decorated. And it’s why I asked my mom about still having my party. Thankfully, Stephanie had shared most of her plans with my mom. (For the record, my mom can throw a quite a mean party, as well.) With the help of some friends – one of whom seems to throw similar parties as Stephanie always did – the party will be happening on January 15 with a rather large guest list.

Nonetheless, I expect this week to be possibly the hardest week of my life besides that time in the hospital. I think it goes without saying that I’m not looking forward to it.

I think of Stephanie’s 30th birthday three years ago and how joyous it was. I made sure her brother was in town for it and surprised her with two La-Z-Boys. (She was always manic about rocking in a chair constantly.) We had just had Brady 9 months prior, which was fantastic considering how desperate she was to have kids before she turned 30. It was such a fabulous celebration of her life thus far.

And now it’s my turn to hit 30. I hate to be melodramatic, but who gets stuck celebrating 30 years as a widow? I know I’m not the first and won’t be the last. But I’m one of them. What kind of birthday am I celebrating this year? Right now, I’m hoping that I can just stay 29 forever until my Stephanie is returned to me. I don’t want to turn 30 without her! It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.


As of yesterday, I’m able to talk about the last time I spoke with Stephanie in terms of “months.” I went to a GriefShare group a couple days ago, and we all said who we lost and when they passed. For some people, it has been a year or more. It really got me thinking about which date is more significant to me: the day she had her cardiac arrest and I last talked to her, or the day she officially died. I guess I especially wonder since the date on her death certificate is not the date I think she actually passed, so it seems like it has less meaning to me. And, it’s her I really miss, so even though I had hope while we were in the hospital, it has still been two months since I got to really be with her. I’m sure I’ll probably just recognize both dates, but these are the things I think about.

As for how I’m doing, it’s hard to really describe. Getting along each day is overall okay. I have a bad moment at least once on most days. I stop what I’m doing and will either take a short walk (if I’m at work) or just take some time to cry as long as I need. I put in a full week of work this week. Again, it went okay, but I also didn’t have any big accomplishments expected of me, so there was little stress related with that. I’m making it even though there’s not a moment that goes by that doesn’t suck. I’m always keenly aware of how miserable I am, although there are times when I would say I’m doing good.

The other night I pulled out a picture of Stephanie and just stared at it for a while. It’s just so hard to believe she’s gone. I’ve never known disbelief like this before and I don’t know how to even express it. But I look at her picture, and she’s real. She’s alive in the picture and she’s as beautiful as ever, and even seemingly more beautiful than ever. And my brain can’t even process that a picture is the only way I can see her now.

She feels so tangible, I can almost reach out and touch her. And yet, I haven’t been able to hold her or touch her face or feel her lips on mine in so long. I’m not going to lie – it sucks so bad. She absolutely was my best friend and we did everything together. And, this last year when she couldn’t drive because of having seizures, we especially did everything together because she didn’t have a choice. So many things happen throughout the day where I want to call her up and tell her about it. And talking to her by just talking to myself is only helpful in certain situations, and paltry at best.

Another month gone by and before I know it, I’ll be saying “year” and then “years.” I’m just stunned – still.