I think this is the first of many days that will be bittersweet. On days of greatest happiness, there is a paralleled sadness felt from someone missing someone you love. These days that we are surrounded by family & friends, we are reminded even more of our loved ones that are no longer here.
One of my most special birthdays was the year that I turned 21. David and I were both living in Iowa City, and our parents came down for the day. We went out to eat at Stella, a restaurant which was fairly new and none of us had been to before. David had never seen the restaurant and was very happy with my choice. We had a really lovely dinner. I remember sitting at the table, looking at my Mom, Dad, and David and feeling so incredibly loved. We had a great conversation and all really appreciated the eclectic group of our family that was able to reunite over a nice meal.
After dinner, David had to go downtown to catch the MegaBus as he was heading to Chicago for the weekend. Mom and Dad were going to be driving back home that night, and Carlos was coming to town for the weekend. We all rode together downtown and prepared to part ways. After waiting together for a few minutes, David learned that the Megabus was, in true fashion, running a couple of hours late.
There was a coffee shop across the street called “Fairgrounds” which I knew had an exceptional stash of board games. We decided to all wait with David there. After perusing the game selection, we chose to play Balderdash. I don’t think any of us had played it before and we had a lot of fun. I remember in particular, one obnoxiously long word that David drew. I had to come up with a definition, and somehow, I wrote the exact (correct) multi-faceted definition. It was probably the single greatest board game success I've ever had! David could not hold back his amazement, and I remember feeling really smart. (This was something that did not happen often in board games with David!) David was so excited (and proud) that he texted my brother Ben to quiz him and see if he knew the definition, he didn't!
This birthday memory of dinner and hanging out, makes me so happy. It is a small picture into what was a truly wonderful sibling relationship, as well as friendship, with my brother.
Today is bittersweet because David is not here in the same way that he was that night. He can’t tell a joke, enjoy a meal, or give me a call. He’s not able to even say the simple words, “Happy Birthday.” The sadness of today is compounded with the knowledge that today is only the first. It’s the first birthday and there will be many more. As the journey of my life continues, there will be other things, too: children, career changes, homes, etc. all things that I wish I could share with David.
The sweetness of today comes from all of the people that are here. It comes from all the love that is still around, in every corner of my life: my parents, siblings, nieces, friends, and husband. I know that David is wishing me a happy birthday today, and I know that he’s here with me. I will treasure the memory of that special birthday in Iowa City, and tonight I treasure David’s very special presence in my heart.
Here is to another year, bittersweet beginnings, and living with love.