Yesterday was your birthday. You would have been 39 years old.
I took yesterday off because I knew full well that it was going to be a difficult day and I would need some time alone to reflect and not worry about having to put on a brave face for everyone around me. For the most part, I stayed at home by myself– I slept in and stayed in my pajamas until after lunch time. I stared at your picture… I napped some more… and I called your old number just because it felt good to dial it again and pretend for a single second that you might answer.
I did have to venture out to get more cat food from the vet clinic late yesterday afternoon, it was the first time I left the house all day. As I was paying, I overheard the receptionist saying to a customer “There is nothing worse than the feeling you get when the police call you to tell you that your son was injured in a car accident.” That’s all I needed to hear and the tears started rolling down my face as I stood there signing my credit card receipt. All I could think was that there IS something worse than that feeling. There is the feeling that my own mother experienced when she got a call from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office saying that they transported her son’s deceased body to the hospital where he would need to be formally identified. And the feeling I got when she called me, her only living child, to break the news that my only sibling had taken his own life. I don’t mean to minimalize… I know any call a parent receives about their child being hurt, in danger or in trouble is difficult. But to hear those words yesterday, of all days, just struck a chord. My mind was immediately transported back to that day and I was imagining how difficult it must have been for that person to have made that call to my Mom to tell her that her son was dead… I already knew how devastating it was for my Mom to have received that call. On my way back home from the clinic I found myself taking a back route for some reason. I wound up at a red light and as I looked at my surroundings I realized that I was stopped directly in front of the bus stop bench where I was sitting in February of 2011 as Mom relayed to me the details of your autopsy. Yet another call that no one ever wants to receive.
I had my third CASA training last night and the subject was Trauma and Mental Health. Truth be told, that is another reason I knew I wanted to take yesterday off… I wanted time alone to prepare myself for that class. To sit through that class on your birthday of all days… well, it was overwhelming. I did better than I thought I would… but I really did struggle with it. There was talk about grief, PTSD, mental illness, depression and recognizing the signs of all of those things. It was so hard, Brian. But I did want to do something to celebrate you yesterday so I brought a few dozen cupcakes to share with the class. They didn’t know what the occasion was… but I did and it meant a lot to me to share your day with them even if they didn’t know it. I just needed to do something to recognize the day in way that was meaningful to me. And as hard as that class was last night, I feel even more motivated to get through my training to start helping some children who really need it. I know you would be really proud of me for doing this… and I honestly believe if you were still here that this cause is something that you undoubtedly would have pursued yourself. And you would have been wonderful at it.
It’s hard to believe that yesterday was the 4th time your birthday has come and gone since you left… I always think the next one will be easier but it never is; I can pretend I’m doing OK but something always reminds me just how far I have to go yet.
It’s pretty hard going through each day knowing that a vital piece of me, of my life, of my history, is missing. Not a day passes where I don’t realize just how much of a void you left.
Happy Birthday, Brian.