My birthday was this week. This week also marked the first anniversary of the crash that killed five cyclists and injured another four. There were fundraisers, memorial rides, and a memorial service. It was not an easy week.
I wasn’t ready for my birthday. I wasn’t ready for it to be June. I’m still settling into my new house*. I just wasn’t ready for May to be over. I needed a few more weeks of May.
But here we are, into the double-digits of June.
So it was my birthday. And I was sad. I purposefully didn’t open Facebook all day. I was saving all of my birthday wishes until the evening. I wanted a big burst of serotonin, not just dribs and drabs.
It helped, but I was still sad. I was thinking of our friends who were about to mark the first anniversary of their grief. And that made me remember how it felt the first year after Sofia died.
My birthday isn’t going to be the same for a while. Like Sofia’s birthday, I know each year will become a bit easier, a bit less jarring. But I suspect a year from now will be another hard week. And probably the year after that as well. Sorrow will be in Kalamazoo’s ether. I’ll take some deep breaths. I’ll do some yoga. And I’ll cry. And then I’ll stand up and take another step forward because life is not static, no matter how unready we are for it to be June.
*Oh, right. I forgot to mention that I bought a house. Surprised? Me, too. It wasn’t completely planned. Then, knowing my rent would be going up again, I decided I should look. I found a nice little house in my parents’ neighborhood. And now I’m a homeowner!
P.S. I’m very proud of myself for not snapping at another parental unit when I picked Anna up last week. Big sister was being overly affectionate to little sister. You know the situation. “I was just trying to give her a hug!” Anna stopped and stared at the two of them. Parental unit (I think it was grandma) looked at Anna and said, “Don’t you just hate how annoying big sisters can be?” I had to bite my tongue. All I wanted to do was to snap and say, “Her big sister is dead.” But I didn’t.
Today was the annual holiday parade. We didn’t go last year because it was cold and Anna wasn’t going to remember it anyway. We all went this year. Anna, me, my dad, and my mom.
Now you have to understand that my mom doesn’t really do parades. She likes the marching bands, but that’s about it. So when I was growing up, my dad was always the one to take my brother and me to the parade* (or most parades for that matter). And we discussed and debated about her coming. Since the parade was always a special Daddy thing, we all kind of want it to be a special Anna-and-Gpa(-and-maybe-Mamma) thing, too. But she still isn’t really going to remember this year, so we all, including my mom (who doesn’t really do parades but kind of wanted to see Anna at her first holiday parade), agreed that we all should go.
And it was cold, but not too cold. And we found a sunny spot not to far from the beginning of the route. Anna watched it intently. She pointed out the snowmen, but other than that, it was hard to tell whether or not she was enjoying herself. Until it was over. When she didn’t want to leave. She would have stayed sitting on the curb watching the cars go by if we’d told her they were part of the parade.
As for me? It was unexpectedly cathartic. When the WMU band marched by, playing their fight song, I started to cry. I don’t know why that was my trigger. It seemed like the entire city was out. We were a community together. Different colors, ages, faiths, all reveling in the same joy.
I cried a little on Wednesday. Today I wept.
*Those things you learn when you’ve grown up. When I was a kid, it was the Gilmore’s Holiday Parade. My dad worked at Gilmore’s, and he worked the parade every year. He wasn’t in it. He worked at the staging area. I don’t remember this. At all. I have vague recollections of going to the staging area once, but I think that was after the parade. But my mom never took us to the parade. It was something we did with my dad. So, yeah, while waiting for the parade to start, my mom called my brother to see what he remembered about going to the parade when we were kids. We think we figured it out. Daddy and Matt left early and went to staging. Mommy must have dropped me off a bit later. But this still means my dad took at least one of us to work every year as part of taking us to the parade.