I celebrated my son’s tenth birthday today.
He wasn’t here to blow out the candles.
He wasn’t here to eat cake.
He wasn’t here to peek out the windows or linger at the door and ask me, “Mom, when will my friends be here?” or “Is it almost time for my party?” while I hustled and bustled to get things ready.
He wasn’t here like that, but he is not so far that we couldn’t celebrate him.
What I loved about today was that it felt normal.
It felt perfectly normal to celebrate a boy who I haven’t seen for almost ten years. It felt perfectly normal to gather around a table and light ten candles and sing the Happy Birthday song.
It felt perfectly normal to sip tea and eat treats while boisterous boys ran around my home. It felt perfectly normal to answer sincere questions from those inquisitive little boys about why Josiah isn’t with us anymore.
It felt perfectly normal to smile and laugh with family and friends. It felt perfectly normal to feel alive and grateful and happy and content.
It was a good day.
* * * *
Soon after Josiah died, I had lunch with a woman who was much farther along on the losing-a-child journey. She looked me in the eyes, and I knew she understood.
My heart was raw and vulnerable. I was confused and disillusioned. She knew it. She saw it.
With her kind eyes and her wise words, she reached in and touched the frayed places of my heart. She assured me that I would be okay. She promised: “Your life will never be like it was, but it will feel normal again. It won’t be like the old normal. It will be a new normal.”
Today I sunk my feet and wiggled my toes in the fresh soil of my new normal. And it felt good.
I miss my son. I always will. But somehow the chasm between us that seemed so wide, so impassable, so impossibly deep, just doesn’t look that way to me anymore.
Maybe the chasm has shrunk. Maybe I have just gotten bigger. Maybe I can finally see that my legs are long enough to step over that hole. (Why, yes, maybe it’s always been a hole and never was a chasm.) And maybe connecting with my firstborn isn’t as hard as I made it out to be.
Or perhaps the chasm simply closes when I do perfectly normal things.
You can read more about Josiah here.