Cue the song from Rent.
But seriously, how do you measure the moments that make up 365 days of life?
Our sweet Mira Joey turns 1 this Friday. Every time I look at her the pain through my heart is equal to the butterflies in my stomach. So much pain for all that Joe is missing and so much love for all that we have gained.
We celebrated Mira’s birthday back in October when we learned Joe was down to days left of his final year with us. I remember saying to him, “What do you think about doing Mira’s 1st birthday early?”
He responded, “Seems strange, like we’re saying we know I won’t be here.” He looked up at me and said, “We know I wont’ be here don’t we?”
It was a hard reality and we had a choice, ignore it or live it.
We did a little bit of both. We tried to live the moment and ignore the truth at the same time. I remember the heartbreak we felt amongst the laughs as we watched Mira dip her little finger into the whirl of pink icing.
Joe never finished her birthday cards. He had time and knew they were sitting inside the table next to his chair but I believe he just couldn’t bring himself to write those final words to the little girl he loved and got so little time to know. I’ll still give her the cards as the years go by. He picked them out, an array of kitten and princess cards marking all of the milestones he’ll miss.
He’s missing them but the truth that hurts the most is how the milestones miss him. Mira took her first steps the day her dad died. He wasn’t there but I felt him as I watched her drunkly waddle forward smiling at her success. Her birthday will miss his voice next to mine singing as we find her in her crib. Christmas Eve will miss him cussing as he struggles to figure out the massive kitchen set I was just sure our 1 year old needed. On my birthday I missed his quirky ways of making it unique. 29 balloons, a pair of rollerblades, and Happy birthday streamers strung across our apartment, all memories I re-played to help fill the hole left without him this year.
I know he’s here but I miss the energy of him walking up behind me and squeezing me in the kitchen. I miss the way his thumbs looked, the rounded shape of his nail. I can’t believe I’m even saying it but I miss the sound of constant sports talk blaring from my television. Sometimes, I stop on Mike and Mike just to feel Joe near. It’s usually just for a moment and then I remember my complaints.
I saw two cardinals flying in my back patio today, one stopping to stare. It alarmed me they were so close but what alarmed me even more was the way I reacted. I immediately started calling out to one as if it were an old friend. “Hello, hi, it’s me!” My neighbors must have thought I was crazy but it was without even thinking I started talking to this bird as if it were Joe. It makes me laugh now to actually write it down. I guess they warned me I’d be nuts for awhile. Or maybe the spiked haired bird was my sweet Joe just checking in.
How do you measure the first year of life? How do you measure the last?
Happy birthday our sweet girl, your mommy and daddy sure do love you.