Nine months after my son was killed I had to face his first Birthday. He would have been turning twenty-one, a milestone event in the lives of most. I awoke that day literally unable to move. It’s not that I didn’t want to get out of bed, it was that I couldn’t; I simply could not move. Then, the phone next to my bed rang.
It was my ex-husband calling. Those that have followed my story know that this is the man who tried to kill me. Our oldest son saved my life that night when a knife was put to my throat. Normally, this is not a person who I would want to be speaking with or have any contact with under any circumstances. This day, however, was uniquely different.
The first thing he said to me was: “You can’t get out of bed, can you.” It was a statement, not a question. Somehow, he knew. I was a bit taken back by this and also quite hesitant to engage in any conversation with him. However, I did respond with a simple: “Yes”.
He then went on to talk about something that only he and I shared… the day our son was born. It was a perfect Sunday in December. Though a bit brisk with snow on the ground, the sun was shining. Though I had many complications giving birth to my other children, this one was better than textbook perfect. I had only three hours of labor and we were laughing between contractions. My ex had been very attentive at this birth, coaching me and placing cold damp rags on the soles of my feet that felt like kisses from Heaven. Once my son was born, he was immediately placed into a warm tub of water making his transition into this world a pleasant one.
Though my ex was a very mean-spirited man, he did have good moments and this was one of his best. As he reminded me of our son’s entrance into this world and the joy his life brought into it, slowly I was able to sit up and eventually get up out of bed. However, my son’s birthdays have always been the most difficult and most painful.
My son’s birthday will be this coming Sunday, 12/10. It has been looming over me like a dark cloud for a few weeks now, and I have found it difficult to even eat one meal a day. I have not been able to write and am barely functioning. I have known for some time now that 12/10 this year is also the day in which Bereaved Parents will be lighting candles at 7PM across the entire planet. Until tonight, knowing this has only been adding to the dread I have been feeling. Then, tonight, I realized something. As my son sits up in Heaven looking down upon earth, he will be seeing the lights of all of those candles being lit on his birthday… like one huge birthday cake with a zillion candles atop. I do realize that this day is set aside in remembrance of all of our Beloved Children. Please pardon my self-indulgence as I choose to also see it as one big Birthday Celebration for my son.
This Birthday, his 39th, I will choose to celebrate his life.
(((HUGS))) Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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