Grief doesn't always seem to make sense. The things I think will bother me, don't. And the things I think will be easy, sometimes take every ounce of strength out of me.
On Thursday, Cole's birthday, I had one of those car rides into work, where I just couldn't help but smile. All the music that came on the radio made me feel such peace about the day. Then I went to work and survived. I had a lot to keep my mind busy and really didn't have a whole lot of down time to be stressed or upset.
What I had been dreading for that entire week, was going to the cupcake store to pick out cupcakes, because I always let each of our littles pick out their own cupcakes. I knew that this would mean that Mr. Howard and I were going to have to pick out a cupcake for Cole and for obvious reasons, this seemed to overwhelm me. But, after work, as I stood at the counter, looking at the adorable man who was helping us with cupcakes, I felt oddly at peace. We picked Cole out the cutest cupcake with oreo cookie crumb dirt and a gummy worm, which seemed to perfectly fit what a five-year-old would love. I got in the car and felt total peace. "Maybe, just maybe," I thought, "I would get through the entire day without any tears."
And that's why grief is so strange.
Because, later, as we lit the candles (which we've done ever since year since he was born), and blew them out (which we've done ever since he was born), I burst out into tears and just couldn't do it. I can't really describe it, other than to say I felt like I couldn't breath and there was absolutely no way I could blow out the candles on his birthday cupcake. It took everything in me not to crumple to the ground. And as each child took turns looking at my quiet husband to ask, "why is Mommy crying?" I continued to sob harder.
It isn't fair that he isn't there to blow out his own cupcakes. It isn't fair that, as a Mommy, I have to be here without him. And it isn't fair that people won't ever get to know him. (In full disclosure...I took this photo on the 18th, since I was sobbing on his actual birthday, and in no place to take a photo).
I take comfort in knowing, however, that we are showered in love and blessings. I can't tell you how many text messages, facebook messages, instagram messages, and hugs I got on his birthday. Every year I wonder if people will be thinking, "Gosh. When will she get over it?" and am blown away repeatedly by how many people wrap us in loving thoughts that day. It is because of all our friends and family that we not only survive the day, but have moments of laughter, light, and happiness in spite of our sadness. I know we are not alone in grief and, somehow, that makes it feel bearable. After all, "grief is the price we all pay for love."