"Happy Birthday!  I hope it's the best day ever!"

"Happy Birthday to you!  Happy Birthday to you!  Happy Birthday Dear Abby!  Happy Birthday to you!"

"I hope you are celebrating today!"

Birthdays are complex (are you surprised to see that I've written that?  What isn't complex these days?).  I loved getting so many wonderful FB messages, emails, voicemails, calls, and texts on Friday.  Really.  It's hard to feel unloved in the Facebook age when everyone is reminded that it's your birthday and makes an effort to acknowledge it.  My birthday is just one of those days now that leaves me feeling pretty empty, heartbroken and guilty.  For me, birthdays stopped being full of childlike wonder when I stopped being a child.  I think birthdays started feeling a little self indulgent around my 25th one.  Not to say I haven't had some good celebrations since then.  I have.  Including my 40th last year - celebrated in Costa Rica with a group of my very best friends.  It wasn't really about my birthday though - more of an excuse to remind myself and be reminded that life is still full of love and possibility.

Having a birthday and the expectation of joy around it actually feels kind of shitty. I just can't believe I keep having these things when Max never even had ONE.  There is just nothing that is more wonderful than seeing a child celebrating their special day.  It makes me feel sick inside that he never got that and that all of his birthdays are commemorated without him.

"Hi Abby, just want to send you a few big hugs and lots of love for your birthday xxxx" - wrote another bereaved mother to me on Facebook

"Thank you, that's so sweet of you", I wrote back.  

I've never met this mom in person.  She lives in the UK.  She is part of a private grief group I belong to on FB.  Inside the virtual walls of that group is one of the only places that I really can say how I feel (you think I am telling you how I really feel here?  Nope).  Even though I've literally never met even one of these people in person, I feel closer to them and trust them more than most people I have known my whole life and see regularly.

"Birthdays are hard now, aren't they?", she answered

I breathed out a deep sigh of relief to finally have someone acknowledge the reality of the day.  "Thank god someone gets it", was all I could think.  Of course the only ones who really get it are those who have lost like I have. 

I cried myself to sleep Thursday night.  I also spent too much of Friday locked in my bathroom at home so my nanny wouldn't see me crying.  And it isn't because I am sad to have turned 41.  I don't feel like an old woman (because I'm not one) and if anything, getting older is the one thing that I can actually appreciate about my birthday.

I know it's hard to understand how someone with so much good in her life can still have so much sadness.  I hope that you never ever have to understand how complex (yep, there it is again) it all is.  I have a wonderful husband, two delicious living children and another one on the way (god willing).  I have a good job and a nice home and two loyal dogs.  I've got good friends, a nice family, my parents are still living, and I am not lacking in anything that I really need.  But there is this one missing piece that never goes away.  I don't have Max.  And, what's so much worse is all that he doesn't have.  

I am finally coming out of the birthday fog (both his and mine) and genuinely feeling like there is some sunshine up ahead.  

"No light that was ever born in love, can ever be extinguised." - Darcie Sims

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