Today I "celebrated" my 41st birthday.
I wouldn't go as far as to call it a celebration, but I allowed myself to recognize that today I turned another year older. And while doing so I recognized that my father is no longer going to share in my birthdays in years to come.
Today I count the minutes as my special day ends. I watch the clock and wait for midnight so it doesn't have to be my birthday anymore.
I don't want cake. No singing.
The happy birthday wishes feel hollow.
I know they are meant with love, but they drift through the air just the same.
I hugged my mom, my brother, my niece. My daughter's extra g-ma.
But no daddy. No Pops. No Zeide for me to hug on my special day.
I missed his arms. His scent. His laugh. His easy-going, nonchalant way of moving forward.
I turn forty-one and he forever stays sixty-six.
It is not fair.
It will never feel fair.
I should not be celebrating without him. And yet, I do. I did. I have.
Not a celebration, per se. But a moment or two of smiles. Stale cookies (yes, again), yummy chocolates, an iced chai (thanks to an old friend), an iced coffee (thanks to my little brother), and an ice cream pop cheers with my Momma.
Those words seem so different to me now. Last time around forty was full of potential. So much love, hope, strength, inspiration. It is all still there, but it hides behind loss, heartache, pain and a softer, gentler, yet more intense kind of love.
I shared my birthday with my Momma, and together we missed my Daddy.
And each day will bring me closer to my very own next birthday. And farther away from his last one. But I will carry the memories and the moments with me always. And forever.
And I will look at my husband and daughter and smile, because they are what means so much.
And then I will remember moments like these, and laugh, even if I am not truly ready yet.
Because I know, deep down, that somewhere, he is thinking that this is what I must do. Smile. Feel loved. Feel blessed. And keep on moving forward.
So, forty-one, here I come.