I’m fifty today.
I can’t tell you why I’ve returned to writing today but I can tell you why I stopped. My last post was on my third Father’s day without Elena. I wrote about my family and about the losses of two friends of mine. Someone commented within days that he was disappointed in me because he felt that I’ve “yet to reach the stage of pure acceptance, and willingness to move on. I was looking for the entry that essentially said that you have come to terms with your grief, and finally realize that the fact that you have a child who died makes you no different and no more special than anyone else. Death doesn’t define the person who has to go on living, or at least it shouldn’t.”
Well I don’t think having a child who died makes me more special than anyone else but I do think it makes me different. It colors everything I experience. Today is my birthday and I love the time I’m spending with friends and family. But every time someone asks me what I want for my birthday, I think “I want my baby back.”
This is as unrealistic as when I was younger and wanted James Earle Jones’ voice for my birthday. I stopped at least half an octave short of that dream. I still have a voice I’ve come to be at peace with and occasionally even like.
Similarly, just because I can’t have Elena back doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the people and things that surround me. I’ll never say “This is C N N” and I’ll never again see my two girls together.
It’s my birthday and I think it’s yet another milestone Elena never lived to see me through and one she never lived to experience for herself.
I accept that she’s dead but I’m not sure what a willingness to move on would bring me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend my days immobilized by her death. I don’t think I’m a drag to be around. I don’t think I’m depressed or prone to mope. But Elena’s life and death remain with me and define as much as my marriage to Kim and my being Maggie’s dad.
When I got married and again when we adopted Maggie I got a glimpse at what “forever” means. When Elena died I lost track a little bit. At first her death was like a sprint. I carried it with me with pain and intensity that you can only endure in a short run with a clear goal. Over the first months it turned into a marathon. The pain was still there but it was pacing itself for the longer race. But a marathon still ends and the irony of Elena’s death is that it helped me realize that you can’t run through life as if you are heading to a finish line.
So if moving on means living my life and trying to get the most out of it—then I’m there. If it means not thinking of our loss or my little girl then I’m comfortable knowing that I never will be.
Fifty feels like the Popeye years are beginning. Some of you may be disappointed in my lack of growth or progress with respect to Elena’s death but “I Yam what I Yam.” Others may complain about the shallowness of my writing. I’m ok with that too.
I woke up this morning with so many things I want to accomplish. You are welcome to join me or not. I love having you along, but I’m writing these pages for me.
I think I’m going to love being fifty.