Today is my husband's birthday. This year it has been such a bittersweet day. It is a sweet day because it is the day God blessed me and so many others with the life of a man that would show me how to love and chase my Savior with passion and zeal. I love today. I am thankful for today - for the gift of Barry's life. It is also a sweet day because I know that it is, by far, the best birthday he has ever had - in heaven, at the feet of Jesus, where joy is ever increasing. But it is also a bitter day. I miss him. I selfishly wish he were still here. I wish I had more time with him. The pain of what I am missing has brought many tears today.
So, how do you celebrate the birthday of some one who has passed away? It has been very important to me to learn how to grieve and learn how to remember Barry well. He was a precious part of my life. I don't want to ignore special days because they are painful. I refuse to not talk about him because it hurts or might make others uncomfortable. I am passionate about making sure our kids know who there daddy was and celebrate his life. But on days like today, it becomes difficult to take those desires and come up with a "plan" for accomplishing them. I've spent the past month thinking and praying about how to handle today - for myself and the kids. And here is what we ended up doing:
William goes to school on Thursday, so this morning we followed our normal routine. It was helpful to have to get up and get moving. Then, Layla and I ran some errands and met some dear friends for lunch. I am so thankful to have friends who will help me celebrate a hard day. We ate at Freebirds, talked about life and celebrated the many blessing God has given us. After picking William up from school, we went to the grocery store to get two things: flowers and balloons. The flowers were for me - flowers make me happy. Even on the saddest of days, I think it helps to be surrounded by beautiful things. The balloons were for William and Barry. We ordered a dozen royal blue balloons (Barry's favorite color). Then we took our balloons to the park and let them go. We sent our balloons to heaven to daddy for his birthday. As William released his balloons, he started screaming, "Happy Birthday Daddy!" We watched our balloons float to heaven. Then, all on his own, William started blowing kisses into the air. He figured if we could send daddy balloons for his birthday, we could also send him kisses. It was my favorite moment of the day. My family came over tonight to have dinner. We played and ate a great meal. We talked about different things and just enjoyed our time together. Then we had cake. Chocolate cake. My husband loved chocolate cake.
I'm sure our method of celebrating Barry's birthday will change over the years. As the kids grow older and their understanding of death and heaven deepens, we will do different things to help them understand, cope and celebrate. But we will always celebrate. And I know/hope/trust that each year will become a little less bitter and a little more sweet.
The house is quiet now. The kids are in bed and everyone else has gone home. To everyone who has called, emailed and prayed today - thank you. Your compassion has been a precious blessing to a hurting heart and I am so thankul for you.
Here are some pictures from our day:
William getting ready to release his balloons
Letting them go, one at a time...
Bye balloons! Happy Birthday Daddy!
Layla watching the balloons float away
Happy Birthday Barry!