The 35th Birthday

Today would have been Andrew’s birthday. I “celebrated” by going to work & having dinner with a friend. There were no balloons, no gifts, no cake. Not even a mention of it by anyone today except by me at dinner.

I have been what I referred to as a “wild card” this month. Mark’s birthday was earlier this month. Last Saturday was 18 months since Andrew died. And today was his birthday. There have been a lot of tears. I have been what I consider grouchy. And I have been loving & giving. I have gone to my room early many days because I just didn’t have anything left in me, not because I was tired.

I still wonder how the people left behind are supposed to carry on in life like everything is happy & lovely when we have such a gaping hole left in our hearts. Not that I am not happy. I have very happy times. I find humor in life. I give hugs. I love people. I enjoy experiences. But there is always that hole.

So Andrew, tell me. Is there life after death? Not your death, sweetheart. I know there is for those that have died. Up or down, our choice. But is there life after death for those of us left grieving? What exactly is the process?

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The process for me has been a bit bland. I have forced myself to work everyday. Well, most days. I shower. I brush my teeth. I eat. I go to church. I volunteer. I go out with friends. I do the normal stuff I have always done. It’s in between those times that I find myself pondering what the next step should be. Is this the process? Is this what everyone does? I don’t know. I wouldn’t dare ask. I’m ashamed of my hiding. I’m embarrassed that I prefer to lock myself away at times than to speak to people. I am self condemning myself for still missing Andrew, being sad, lonely, wishing I had answers.

Answers. How I wish I had the answers. After 18 months, I still have no understanding as to why that night played out the way it did. I have no answers to the questions that have gone unanswered for a year & a half. If anything, I have more.

What have I learned throughout the torture? Lots of things. Do we really need to discuss that again? Fine. I will share one. It’s a recurring theme so don’t roll your eyes when you read it. It’s Love. It’s simple really. Unconditional, pure & genuine love. Don’t miss the mark by ignoring the brokenness of the people around you. We have the capacity to change our worlds just by giving our hearts away. I know that by trying to live my life with this type of love, I have changed my own life, for the better. I hope I have changed the lives of those around me for the better, as well.

Some of you have heard this story. But last week, a co-worker (a person that I feel is fairly unhappy in life. Is it just work related? I don’t know.) was at my desk talking about how I just strolled to my car in the rain. (Remember last Summer, I posted about playing in the rain?) So I mentioned that it’s just water. No need to get upset about it. She began to talk about an umbrella her parents had bought her years ago. It had her initials engraved in the handle. It had broken a while back & she was wishing she had gotten a new one. She had such a light in her eyes over this umbrella. She ran back to her desk & emailed me a picture of it. At my lunch that day, I got on Amazon & ordered the umbrella. When I got it this week, I went to work, left it on her desk with no note. She came running to my desk with the umbrella & tears in her eyes. She said I should not have done that, she knew it was expensive. She was awestruck that I would have done something like that. She went back to her desk & emailed me another thank you. I said I could tell it was special to her so I thought she needed to have a replacement. She said I have the most generous heart & that it has been so so long since someone had done anything that nice for her. I began to cry just as my boss, also a long time friend, came around to my desk. She asked what was wrong. I showed her the email & I said “That is just so sad. What is wrong with us?” I emailed my co-worker back explaining that I was in tears, because I had missed it. Because there are people in my life that feel unloved, uncared for & have no idea how valuable they really are. I told her that we all need to be generous with our hearts all the time with all people. My boss told me that the price of the umbrella was brought up. She told them that if I felt something was needed for someone, I would never look at the price. She said that they are all better people for having me in their lives. I cried some more.

I don’t give away umbrellas for the compliments or the credit. I give away umbrellas because that is what the heart needed. I give because I love. I love because God loves. I try to be aware & cognizant of the needs of people around me. If I can fill the heart or soul, I do. God provides the finances, the words, the opportunities. Sometimes that means I buy umbrellas. Or dinners. Or refrigerators. Or groceries. Sometimes that means I tell brutal truths, give hugs, send text messages of encouragement or bible verses. But I always, always, ALWAYS show love, grace and hope. My heart hurts for the hurting. I guess because I know how broken feels.

I’m not broken anymore. I am healed. With a few cracks. I am like an old house, with layers & layers of paint that have begun to be stripped away. I know that underneath all those layers, I am a beautiful, strong & sturdy home for broken hearts. I have an open door for anyone in need.

Happy Birthday, Andrew. Enjoy your red velvet cake. Jesus is the best baker. Your smile is missing in my day. The world is missing your heart. That giant, kind, loving, broken heart. Much love sweet friend.

For the rest of you lovelies, watch for opportunities to share your heart. It always returns two fold. At least. Love you all.

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