This past week we celebrated … cake, ice cream, presents hidden inside bags overflowing with bright tissue paper. It was our foster son’s 2nd birthday and we delighted in singing the birthday song with him all week long.
Lil’ Man was mostly confused by all the birthday commotion. The morning of his birthday, I tried to put pin a little birthday ribbon on his shirt so that the rest of the world would know it was his birthday, too. He promptly ripped it off. I attempted to reattach the ribbon several more times, only to get the same result. In the end, I was just glad he didn’t tear up his shirt.
Later in the day, I baked a simple cake and put a couple of matchbox cars on the top along with his #2 candle. As soon as he saw the cake on the counter, he demanded that I give him the cars. When I refused, he threw a royal tantrum.
And after dinner, when we lit the candle and sang the birthday song with lots of gusto, our favorite toddler looked around at us with this expression that seemed to say, “You people have lost your minds! Just cut the cake and let’s eat!”
Even the presents seemed to cause Lil’ Man some confusion. We gave him the first gift and he sat there looking at us, unsure of what he should do next. Even after we showed him how to tear the paper, he seemed a bit unsure about ripping something up. I suppose we have made it clear that most things are not meant to be torn apart! Thankfully, once the gifts were revealed, our sweet boy was elated with them … so much so that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to play with the toys or eat his cake and ice cream.
He ended up choosing cake over playing. What a smart boy!
I’ve always enjoyed birthdays, whether it was my own or someone’s that I love. Even before I became a mother, I enjoyed birthday parties for little people. Once I had children of my own, nothing brought me more pleasure than to plan a party, mostly simple ones but some more elaborate.
In fact, I loved birthday celebrations so much that in years gone by I used to even allow celebrations of halfie-birthdays, complete with half a cake, Blue Bell ice cream in half chocolate and half vanilla, and a special rendition of the Halfie Birthday song (sung to the same tune as the regular birthday song, the only difference being that each “happy” is replaced with the word “halfie.”
However, now that I have seven children, it’s much too complicated to try to keep up with regular birthdays and halfie-birthdays. So, for simplification purposes, I had put that tradition to rest. It has been two years since I made that decision, and I’m not sure all of my children have forgiven me yet.
Of all the reasons I love having a big family, perhaps my favorite is getting to celebrate birthdays more often. Nine times each year we get to sing the birthday song and eat cake and ice cream after dinner. In fact, in the month of November alone, our family celebrates three birthdays! I already mentioned Lil’ Man’s birthday this past week. Our foster daughter will be turning one the day before Thanksgiving and our son Nathan will celebrate his 13th birthday on Thanksgiving Day.
Can you imagine the sugar rush of eating birthday cake and pumpkin pie on the same day … oh my!
Today is my dad’s birthday. Well, it would have been his birthday today. I think, if I have done the math correctly, he would have turned 67 years old.
Sometimes, after a loved one has passed on, people will (in an effort to comfort you) say something like, “Just think .. this year they are having the best birthday celebration up in heaven!”
While it’s a nice thought … honestly, I’m just not sure about the accuracy of that at all.
I don’t think my dad is in heaven celebrating in some private party with Jesus or even blowing out candles on some sort of heavenly cake as departed loved ones stand around and watch. And I certainly don’t think he has even once contemplated how those of us still on earth are remembering him today.
In fact, I don’t suppose birthdays matter all that much up in heaven anyway.
Seeing as we will be completely focused on worshipping God, I don’t see how anyone’s birthday (our own included) will even enter into our thoughts. (Well, maybe we will think about Jesus’ birthday. That might be appropriate … besides, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we got to celebrate that in heaven? Talk about a party to remember!)
But right now, I’m not in heaven. I’m here on planet earth … where birthdays do matter, and for the most part people who live in my culture choose to celebrate birthdays with cake and ice cream, parties and presents.
All day I have thought about my dad, missing him so much that tears have fallen several times. It saddens me that I can’t be with him on his special day, buy him a silly card, or wrap up some tiny trinket of a gift. And it’s not just this year that my kids can’t call him and sing the birthday song, as they listen to his laughter in the background. Never again will I be able to enjoy a piece of cake with him, or tell him how much he blessed me.
It’s been a hard day. Truthfully, most days during the past two months have been hard. I suppose that was to be expected. Grief isn’t an easy or quick process, and as these holidays approach I know deep down there are going to be many more hard days yet to come before the tears don’t fall as easily and the sting of the pain begins to ebb away.
My blog has been quiet these past two months. Part of that was just busyness. I’ve been adjusting to adding those two sweet foster babies to my home, adjusting to sleepless nights again. I had forgotten so much about little ones. Everything seems to take longer these days. I haven’t had nearly as much time to sit and write.
But more than that, I didn’t want my blog to become a grief blog. And yet, this is where I am in life at this time. It’s a season of grief. Just like the fall leaves are beginning to color the landscape of Cajun Country, the dull gray of grief seems to cloud over all my days, both the good and the bad. So like the black armbands worn a hundred years ago or more, I shut down my blog and entered into a time of mourning.
Over the past week, as I’ve celebrated the first birthday since my dad died on my 42nd birthday, I’ve thought over and over that the time to end my silence was over. My grief isn’t over. Far from it! But my heart is ready to process and share, and the only way I’ve ever known to do that is to write it all down.
Before my foster babies came to live in my home and before my dad died, I had a goal of publishing blog posts 3 times a week. I doubt I can make that happen with my current schedule. So I am setting a new goal of one new blog post a week, and more as God lays them on my heart and gives me time to write.
Meanwhile, please know I have missed my writing and blogging community so very much. I am eager to try to catch up, and I am thankful for the promises of God who has said He will be near to the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18) and will turn my mourning into dancing (Ps. 30:11)