Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Birthday


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.


25 comments:

  1. Thinking of you. Hugs and prayers.

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  2. You leave me in tears with every post. I'm just so sorry. But please know, today is a special day because your life is worth celebrating. Twenty-eight years ago, a loving God welcomed you to the world to do great things. I suspect the greatest of those things was to shepherd James' sweet time on Earth. That alone makes today an important day. Today marks the anniversary of the day God sent James a father. Even with all that is missing today (and I know that hole is great), I pray you are able to enjoy time, laughter, love, and hope with family and friends.

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  3. You are a wonderful father Matthew. I hope the day passes quickly for you. I lead a hard life due to being disabled suddenly as a child, I know the comfort of anger... it helps me function, if I dont stay angry sometimes, I could lose the day in a corner crying. Stay angry if it comforts you, you have every right to be...you lost a gorgeous, precious son...believe me I would stay angry for a long time. I pray for Kara and you nightly.

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  4. i know that anger well. it's so very unfair, and i'm sorry. ((hugs))

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  5. Thinling of you. I hope you have strength and grace and peace on your birthday.

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  6. I'd be angry too. The loss of James makes no sense. There is no answer to the question why. All the beauty and potential of that special child left to memory and imagination. I'm so sorry for your unfathomable loss.

    Holidays are brutal. I couldn't believe today that a man with whom I work, who knows my circumstances, asked if I had all my decorations up and presents bought and wrapped. I, too. have lost a child. My husband is dying of cancer. He has from 0-3 months to live. I thought how odd and insane it would be for me to be decking the halls here alone at home. People say the strangest, most inappropriate things. The last thing I want to do is celebrate anything, including my rapidly approaching birthday.

    Take it one day at a time. Anymore than that is unbearable. We must somehow persevere.

    Thinking of you and Kara. Wishing you comfort and peace, even if momentary.

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  7. Happy Birthday-may you find a small joy in being a wonderful husband to the fabulous wife God found for you. Jamesie was such a gift to you two and may the time he had here with you always bring you peace-you will be together again but for now live life to the fullest with each other the best way you know how. God bless and always praying for you.

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  8. Every of y'all's posts leaves me in awe. I can never think of anything profound to say except that James' story makes me hug my little girl so much more and longer. I pray for your sweet family every night.

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  9. Matthew, when I try to write you and Kara I find that my words just don't come. I just get this overwhelming feeling that I want to reach through this screen and give you both a big hug. Praying for you daily!

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  10. Continually praying for you & Kara. I'm still amazed at how strong your faith continues to grow. I will forever remember Jamesie & his precious hair.

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  11. Even though I don't comment on every post, just know that I am praying for you every single day. I find that I am at a loss for words when I try to comment, and I wish I could just sit with you, listen, and hug you.

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  12. Dear Matt,I won't wish yu a belated happy birthday. I won't because I understand. If I did my math right your birthday is Dec. 8th. That is my brother's birthday. Rather, that was my brother's birthday. He too died too young. He too suffered endless days fighting a beast (leukemia in his case) no adult should ever face but oh my Lord no child should ever face. I was quiet young when he died, only 2. People tell me I am crazy I cannot possibly remember. They are wrong. I may not have crystal clear memories of our David, but I remember feelings. Knowing my parents were gone again. Seeing the look on my face when he died. The empty dead way she and daddy walked though those first few months after his death. Make no mistake, they cared for their three surviving daughters beautifully. We honored David in everything we did, celebrated his birthday every year even when purported experts told my parents it was better to not. It was too painful so in order to grieve it was best to put pictures away and not discuss David. My parents did not believe this. I am blessed because their approach to David's death, the freeness with which they spoke of him and openness of their grief has allowed my sister and brother and I to view life and death in a healthy and life affirming way. We understand death, we hurt, we grieve but we do so well. I hope that makes sense. I think you, James parents grieve your James with a beautiful and heartbreaking truth. I am so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful James and the deep and seemingly endless pain. I promise it will ease. I promise one day you will wake to discover that your beautiful hearts as designed by a loving Father can contain both joy and grief. I pray that day comes soon.

    I have a thought that I hope will bring some sense of joy back to your birthday. As Catholics (I don't know your faith affiliation so hope I do not offend with this) we believe that December 8th to be one of the honest days of the year. It is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, that most holy reminder of Mary being conceived of her parents without sin. The beginning of a life to bring forth the Savior of the world. For me the beauty of this day as it relates to your situation is that this day, December 8th, smack dab at the height of Christmas madness is the reminder of the hope we have for a life where you will have your precious James for ever. I hope amidst the darkness that hope brings you a moments peace. I pray you know joy. I know you will hold that beautiful boy in your arms again. Until then, a very quiet Happy Birthday to you Matt!

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  13. Please forgive the myriad of typos...iPad was acting up. FTR, Dec, 8 is the HOLIEST of days, not honest...really felt the need to correct that one :)

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