Reflections on my birthday

So today is my 37th birthday. I typically celebrate on Dec 8th because my grandfather passed away on the 9th of Dec. As I sit here enjoying a day to relax, drink coffee, do some shopping, and prepare for a Christmas party tonight, I thought it would be a good time to do a blog entry. As I look outside the first snowflakes of the season are falling around my backyard.

Last night a few close friends got together at my house. We went for a few drinks at a local bar to listen to an acoustic set by Johnny Orr, a local talent. It was a very nice calm evening. Our original plans were to have a wild night out in downtown Raleigh at the 80’s and 90’s bar. The weather was cold rainy and unforgiving. We will postpone this part of the celebration until next Friday. This means an extra party for me!

I was never a big birthday party person. I am not the center of attention girl at all. I used to throw Matt some wonderful birthday celebrations (even surprise ones). I was just thinking about how I surprised him with his parents coming to our apartment once for a birthday party, he was in a foul mood but he did not know why I was all twitchy. I was trying to get them there without him knowing.  I did not usually have people over or go out specifically for my birthday. After losing Matt unexpectedly,  I realized that a birthday is one more excuse to see friends and live life joyfully. So I will take that extra party and do just that!

I am really blessed with amazing friends I have in my life. Moments like the holidays and birthdays are hard for the widow and single community. Both of which I am the unlucky member of. Friends truly help to support you in these tough times.

Last years birthday saw me going under contract for a house (the very one I am writing from right now). I recall buying it unceremoniously and then crying into my burger and beer at Gatehouse Tavern with my parents and friend Laura. I also went to therapy that day knowing I needed it. All I wanted last year was to survive the day without making a complete fool of myself and not get too many pity looks. I wanted to find a moment to stop crying. I wanted to be stronger. I did the best I could.

All I want on my birthday this year is to be hugged by someone special who cares about me. Someone who can look at me with a smile and say it’s getting better Dana, it is going to be ok.  It is not need, I do not need anything. It is a want. I want to share my time with someone, getting to know one another. I want to go on fun dates, sit home and watch tv after cooking together, talk about random things, and develop a friendship that turns into something special. I want someone to take care of me for the first time in my life. I want companionship. And of course on a day like my birthday I am going to assess and take stock of my life.

In this new life I am living, I am not sure if it is harder to love someone who is gone or like some who is right there but unavailable. I do know just writing that sentence has me filled with guilt (ask any widow who tries to move forward and they will say guilt is a step in this). You see when someone is gone you have no ability to change it you just scream, cry, punch, and grieve. You never stop loving your deceased husband. You do learn how large your heart is and how it has the capacity to let someone new in and start to beat again. When someone is physically available and emotionally not all you can do is offer compassion, space, distance and time. The difference is in the 2nd situation you have hope. A hope that someday your paths cross again, and a real attempt can be made to get to know each other with clearer minds. Sometimes the person you want around you the most has to be distanced from, because they do not care enough about you. The fact is if they felt the same they would be there on your birthday and taking you to the fancy party tonite.

I wanted this day to be much different. I wanted this life to look much different.

Just once in what has been a very hard time, I wanted to put a Win in my corner.

You should be here….

Most people who choose to give advice to Widows go home to someone everyday who is there to talk to them, hold them, and care for them. Believe me I appreciate the sentiment and know you are trying to help. Just realize you cannot really understand a young suicide widow unless you are one. I would not wish this on anyone. A few people have reminded me that being alone in this world is not the worst thing. That I do not need any man to complete me or show my worth. They say I have to love myself alone first. Over the past 13.5 months I have done that. I probably spend more time working on my mind, body, and improving myself than most people do. I have learned to love myself for who I am, faults and weaknesses and all. It happens really quickly when you have no other choice but to move forward, dig deep, and trust yourself. When you see your strength and ability to survive tragedy, you quickly know who you are and love yourself for it. The woman I am today is amazing, outstanding, loving, compassionate, passionate, thoughtful, and unbreakable. I am a suicide survivor and a widow warrior. I am a fierce friend and family member. I am a fur-baby mom. I am strong AF.

So tonight I am going to put on my fancy party dress, grab my fellow single widow friend Elizabeth, and go to my favorite bar. We will rock this Christmas party where I know very few people. We are two strong, single, independent, amazing ladies who support each other. We both value having a strong and good man in our lives we just haven’t found one to keep up with us yet and know they want to take us off the market! So cheers to me for making it through this year. I truly hope 37 is my best age.

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