Birthday Blues

Birthdays kick my ass. Apart from the angelversary, birthdays are the toughest mile stones for me since Jonny's death. There's something about celebrating our lives continuing on with him gone that just really, really blows. Obviously. Every birthday since he's died I've, at the very least, cried, and at the most had a complete widow break down.

Last year, I turned 26. I talked about how difficult that was for me, officially "outliving" my husband. I went to Golden Corral with my family, an old family tradition, and I started crying at the table. How pathetic. Right? I was 26, outliving my husband, getting older, sitting in crappy Golden Corral, not unlike the Golden Corral we were at when we found out he was deploying... it was bad and silent tears slipped down my face as the realities of my life hit me. It wasn't that bad though. A bit of moping the week leading up to and the week following and my birthday was over. For 27 this year, I was with my best friend in the world in Chicago. I had a really fun birthday. We went out for dinner and drinks, there was great conversation and a ton of laughing. We got back to my friend's house and I laid in her lap and cried until I passed out. Sobbed. Getting older sucks.

The baby's birthday is even harder. In fact, I'm pretty sure that every one of her birthdays has lead to a sobfest post festivities. Her dad should be here, watching her grow. I distract myself with throwing a grand party, making sure she has the best day possible, going all out with invitations and decorations. But as I've learned along this grief journey, there's only so long you can hide, only so long until the distractions are over before it's time to face the overwhelming sadness and pain that we have celebrated every single one of her birthdays without him.

Four years ago today I was told by my OB at my 38 week check up that I would probably be having a baby today. She told me to go home and eat because they won't feed me once I'm checked in to L&D and then head to the hospital in an hour or so. I was 4cm and 100% effaced and Ariana was banging on the doors to get out. Three hours and a Mario marathon later, my mom was practically dragging me out of the house telling me it's been far longer than one hour. We checked in to the hospital and began the wait for her arrival. A lot of strolls through the halls, forcibly broken water, stolen McDonalds fries, and several hours later Ariana Ralyn graced the world with her presence at 1:44 in the morning on January 15. Jonny was on the phone, present for her delivery. He was beyond happy for her arrival. He was the proudest dad I had ever encountered. He just couldn't wait to be a dad and it was finally his time, all he had to do was get home and meet her.

Fast forward four years. It's the third party I'm throwing without him. The third cake we'll be eating without him. She'll blow out the candles surrounded by our family and friends, she'll be happy and excited and the party will be awesome. And a little piece of me will break away, as it does every year, every birthday without him. It's just not fair. And it sucks.

I keep myself with the thought that even though we miss out on him, he's not missing out on us. He'll be watching and he'll still be the proud dad he was. He'll know how hard I tried to give her the most awesome birthday possible. He'll be proud of how I've done, even when I feel I'm barely treading water. He'll be routing me on and I must focus on that fact, to keep from drowning in the sorrow of his absence.

Now, I will focus on the party prep. I'll go above and beyond, more than you probably "should" for a four year old's birthday party, but it will keep me focused, and moving, and partially happy. Not grief or sadness free, but if I have a purpose and can make it good for her, it can be mostly good for me. I'll celebrate as hard as I can, and I'll probably cry, too. It doesn't get easier. Grief just doesn't go away. It gets different, it gets "normal" but I wouldn't say it gets easier. But each year, we deal, we move forward, and we do the best we can.

Today, I'm reliving the day I went into labor. I'm missing Stink and I'm missing my tiny little girl. I'm also reminded of how far we've come since this day four years ago and I am proud. Proud of my own achievements, proud of the awesome little girl I have, and proud that through the pain we continue to live.


  1. You are such a strong woman. Your courage inspires me. My sister is a widow with three little girls and her oldest turned 8 yesterday and her twins will turn 7 in 12 days. He'll have been gone 6 years this February and I can see it in her face that it doesn't get easier but you're so lucky to have your little girl. Their sweetness keeps you holding on and that's what makes it worth it (:

  2. This breaks my heart. You have come a long way. You truly are an inspiration. Wishing you happier days in the future.

  3. ((hugs)) God had you my mind a lot this week, now I guess I realize why.

    You have every reason to be proud of yourself. You are an awesome mom and a wonderful person. You've used your pain to reach out to and help others. You are one of the strongest women I know. I am very, very proud of you.

  4. You seem so strong and it is amazing that you can put such beautiful words on your situation and feelings. I tear up when I read what you write. My husband of almost twenty years (also a military man) left me and the children. Our girls were 8 and 12 at the time. We have been griefstricken ever since and I feel very much like you describe at the girls birthdays and Christmas, first communion etc. Oposite to your situation, in our case he has made the active choice not to be there which is terribly hurtful and devastating. IN addition we have been treated like garbage by the military since it seems to be the case that if he does not want us, they do not want us either. So I guess my situation is totally oposite to yours in many ways, but I still recognize myself in many of the things you write. Many warm regards to you and your beautiful daughter. Anneli

  5. As I am reading on your post, I feel that your situation is really hard but you are a strong mom and you are a military spouse. You can do it, you have a wonderful child the keeps you strong. I know there are people that who are looking up for you.

    Military spouse

  6. This post made me tear up. I'm so sorry he can't be there to give his little girl a birthday hug. Ariana will be so proud of you when she is old enough to realize how much you fought through your own sadness to make her birthdays special. You are a great mom! Sending thoughts of love and peace to you. Happy birthday, Ariana!

  7. Hey girlie. You don't know me, but I have been checking in on your blog about once a year for four years now. My oldest daughter is 4, and I was once married to her dad who served in the Marines as well. I don't have anything amazing to say, but I just wanted to tell you how glad I am for you that you are surviving. I don't know why I think of you every now and then.. I don't even remember how I came across your blog all that time ago. But I do think of you, and my heart aches for you. Thank you for being a good mother to your child and for keeping your husband's memory and influence alive in you and your baby's life. Many hugs and prayers your way. You'll meet him again someday and the reunion will be sweeter that the depth of pain you have experienced from his departure. I solidly believe this.

  8. While I do not know what it's like to lose a husband, I have lost a child, shortly before his fourth birthday two years ago, and read the posts where you share your grief and have some semblance of understanding.

    You're in my thoughts, for what little that does.


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