goodbye 39.

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Tonight is my last night of being 39. Tomorrow I will be 40. Oh, this birthday. This was going to be a special one. In a way, it was going to both our birthdays. We were really looking forward to spending this time together. This celebration was gonna be extraordinary because it would set the tone for this new phase in life, one marked by all the Hope and Possibilities and Dreams of a life that we were stepping into together. We would move to Alaska. We would live a life of good work and big adventures. We would start a family. We would learn and grow in a million ways. So many challenges of the past were finally going to be put behind each of us. And Carl, he was ready as ever to make sure that I would have a positive start to all of it. That man believed in me. And I believed in him. Somehow he made everything in the world feel possible, and maybe I did the same for him. We filled in the missing parts of one another’s once singular lives. Goodness grew in places where we didn’t even realize that something had been missing.

Not to mention, that guy made me laugh SO much! Wow, we laughed hard. Carl made me laugh more than anyone. He loved happiness. He thrived on it. He wanted to share that happiness and, asking nothing in return, he was genuinely committed to making sure I was happy, too. My niece took this picture of us somewhere at the edge of the universe along the Gunflint Trail. She was laughing as she took it. Carl was being a goofball and I was, of course, loving every minute of it. Oh, that smile of his! It lit up the world.

It’s been one month since he’s been gone. How can that be? I find it amazing that I am only just barely beginning to comprehend how to walk and talk and breathe without him in this world. He’s still here, but wow…this requires me to learn an entirely new language. It’s like learning sign language in the dark. Blindly, I try to make sense of this untouchable brail. But, miraculously, it does happen. Even if only briefly. I’m still such an infant in this new way of being and so getting through each portion of each day remains nothing short of a challenged phenomena. How is it possible that so much time has already passed between us? I’m finding that healing comes in increments smaller than the finest grains of sand. Even that feels too generous. I’m still upside down.

Ok. But tomorrow is going to happen and when Carl was alive he told me that, although he didn’t know a lot of things, the one thing he knew for sure was that he would be with me on my birthday. I’ve already done my fair share of crying today and maybe I will tomorrow, too. I heard the difference in his voice and I trusted it. And you know? I guess that trust is still worth everything.

And so–for Carl, for my birthday–here is a poem from a very beautiful book gifted to me by a friend…

“For Celebration”
Now is the time to free the heart,
Let all intentions and worries stop,
Free the joy inside the self,
Awaken to the wonder of your life.

Open your eyes and see the friends
Whose heart recognize your face as kin,
Those kindness watchful and near,
Encourages you to live everything here.

See the gifts the years have given,
Things your effort could never earn,
The health to enjoy who you want to be
And the mind to mirror mystery.

~by John O’Donohue :: To Bless the Space Between Us

I love you, Carl, my beautiful smiling man. Thank you for helping me to see the beauty, laughter and light, even when I don’t think it’s even remotely possible. You will always make me happy.

{originally published Dec 8, 2014}

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