Today would be Andrea’s 41st birthday.
That would be difficult enough, like every first holiday without her, but this was the day I’ve been dreading since she passed away.
You have to understand, Andrea’s birthday was the day I never seemed to get right, some of it because my job had me forced to work late almost every birthday, and a lot of it because I just screwed it up. That’s a hard legacy to live up to.
I have to admit, there were times I don’t think I could ever have gotten it right. Days that she asked, even begged me to stay home all day. One year, that was her only wish, wanting me to stay home and be with her . . . even admitting at that point she wanted me to be home to entertain her. Andrea had a horrific fear of being alone. I work in television news so November, even today in the daily monitoring world, the most important ratings period, the one that sets the biggest ad rates for the year, is November. It usually starts on a Thursday, the last week of October and goes until right before or after Thanksgiving.
The way I avoided most of the holiday problems was to work as an investigative reporter. The payment you have to make for that is the fact that you end up working every book and guaranteeing that every story for the opening of the book gets put together right.
But it’s more than that. I never got it right. I’d tell her I’d do my best to be home by 6 or 7 and be late. I’d try to get her the right present and we’d be out of money or would start looking too late.
In the end, I just never got it right.
The inevitable arguments ensued. I’d see the disappointment in her eyes, the smile in that photo you see disappearing. Now, that’s all I see. I’m sure there are a number of birthdays – in early years – that were just fine. I managed to get other holidays, even our anniversary right. I just kept messing it up.
That makes this day so much harder. We all felt this coming, handling it differently. Hannah wants to go to the cemetery. Sam doesn’t. We all want to celebrate, but what do you do? It’s hard to celebrate the birth of someone who will never age. She lives with us, in our hearts, attached to our souls.
The best I can accomplish is to just celebrate it. We have a cake – a fancy one, I made and decorated for Halloween.
So I’m doing the only thing I can think of. I’m making Andrea’s birthday our own holiday.
It’s not huge, but I got the kids each a present. We made a cake. I’m going to make a nice dinner, something Andrea would love. It’s not an effort to buy my way out of things, if that’s what you’re thinking, because that would never work. Especially for MY kids. Instead, I want to make want to make this day a celebration of their mother. A day that we take to think about her, do the things she’d love, and just think about what she brought to us.
It’s my only way of trying to make up for what I did wrong for so many years. This is my only way to make this right.
Today is her birthday, and she’ll never see it. I loved her so much and only wish I’d done this right all these years before. I’m making up for it . . . but to the kids and myself since she’ll never know it now.
Happy Birthday, Andrea. You’ll live on, a little stronger this day, the one you deserved when you were with us. I got it all wr0ng, but maybe this time I might actually do something right.