This is a picture of James from my birthday last year. If anything, I imagine James was mildly surprised when at least one song was not sang directly to him. Possibly relieved.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 28 years old. For perspective, that is 10,220 days. James lived 257 days, or roughly the rounding error between 10,220 and 10,000. When I was young, I made a point of celebrating my birthday as an event. Terrified of being lost in the cluster of holidays between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I made a big point of forcing everyone to celebrate my birthday independently, to recognize it as my own special day. I was a horribly selfish kid like that.
I don't want to celebrate this year. I've been lucky so far. Only my secretary noticed the sign in the break room at work. Friends and family I can limit to text messages, or better yet, facebook posts. When someone asks what I want, I direct them to James' fund. That tends to deflect them quickly from asking what I want to "do" for my birthday. I simply want the day to pass.
There's no achievement here. If anything, my birthday is a reminder of the fact that somehow despite all of my many mistakes, I'm really doing just fine. I will be completely ok this year, and probably the year after. Without trying particularly hard, I've managed a little over a quarter of a century on this Earth. Looking back on it, I've wasted a good many of those. I never really felt that way before. There was just no sense of urgency.
One of the "grief" e-mails I got today encouraged me to write about my anger "to unload some of that pressure." That's how my birthday makes me feel. I'm angry. I'm angry that I don't have my son to celebrate it with. I'm angry that I get to nonchalantly cruise through the years when he barely got months. I'm angry about the e-mails in my inbox directed to "James Sikes" wishing him a happy birthday and offering him a good deal on a birthday dinner or bottle of wine. I'm angry at myself for filling out the forms with my first name. I'm angry about all of the time I feel like I wasted when he was here away from him. I'm angry that he never really had a chance, after all we put him through. I'm angry I can't hear him laugh, and that I've memorized all the recordings I have of him laughing down to the second. Above all, I am angry without purpose, because I'm not prepared to deal with the alternative.
Some days are better. Some days I'm grateful for the time we had. And I am. I would never wish that James were not a part of my life. Holidays and events have an unfortunate tendency to remind me that he isn't, and focusing on that rarely ends well.
In other news, I'm slowly making way through the comments. I'm in June now. At this rate, I'll catch up with the current entries sometime next spring. Looking back, it's amazing how much support we had even in those early days. Thank you.