I turned 35 today. We actually celebrated with cake and singing the other evening since my daughter and her mom had to leave after lunch today to return home.
I made a wish. It’s the same wish I’ve made every year since my oldest son came into the world.
I’ve written about how special days like holidays and birthdays feel bittersweet without my daughter present. Her birthday, obviously, is the worst. Followed by Christmas, the boys’ birthdays, and then my own. I like when I’m surrounded by all of my family, even the extended ones. It just feels right. So when she’s not with us, it feels… not right.
Our first visit occurred the weekend before my birthday. She was just four months old, a smiling little blob of a happy baby.
But it wasn’t on my birthday. My husband, then fiancee, and I drove away in our green mustang. It was my second experience driving away from my daughter, but it felt a thousand times worse than the first time. I cried so hard when we left that visit; it’s a long drive from the eastern side of Pennsylvania to mid-south-east Ohio. I felt empty, lost, angry, scared, and amazed all at the same time. I also had no one really to help me process what any of that meant as the facilitator didn’t offer me post-placement counseling, nor did they think that post-placement visits were “good.” They didn’t even really tell us they were an option.
It’s been many (many!) years since that first visit. And for once, it just so happened my daughter was able to stay and celebrate with me on my birthday.
And so this morning, my wish came true. All three of my children piled in my bed and wished me a happy birthday.
It’s likely I’ll never need another gift again, though she made me a great piece of clay art that will reside on my desk. (My office is becoming quite the art place!) I felt so whole and so loved this morning, the feeling of her leg against mine, my boys smooshed up against my other side. I’ve never “minded” my birthday, always celebrated it as another year around the sun, something to really cherish.
But this year? Takes the cake. Literally.
(Then the three women folk went shopping and had lunch and bought all of the Chucks in the world. Best. Birthday. Ever.)