It's past midnight now, which means that I made it through what would have been your birthday. A day that was once full of lemon cakes, bouquets of flowers and laughter has morphed into a day of profound sadness.
I baked you a lemon pound cake. You would have loved it. You could have eaten it without a fork, just picked up thick slices and sat on the front porch with a glass of Dr. Pepper. I baked it using your mixing bowls, your silver measuring spoons and your cake stand. I even used the orange bundt pan that you had hanging on the wall in your kitchen. I had hoped that the baking process would bring some sort of peace, but I admit that it just made me sad.
I don't know what to do to make me less sad. I keep thinking that this will get easier.
I got a job. I said, "yes" to every sport or activity that the kids wanted to participate in. I volunteered to bake cupcakes, make costumes, be the room mother and work extra shifts. No matter how many activities that I find to fill up the hours of my day, I am still sitting here at 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning with too much time to think.
I went to the Alzheimer's support group. I sat there on my metal folding chair soon after you were gone and listened to people speak about the spouses and parents that they had lost. I felt that my grief wasn't large enough in comparison to what they had lost. I felt inconsequential and shallow.
I can't talk to Brad because just one month ago he lost his dad. His pain is so raw and too fresh. I can't add to his sadness. He didn't get to say goodbye.
I got to say goodbye. I was there. But when I should have been letting you go, I was instead holding on tighter and tighter. I can't let you go. I can't seem to get around this huge, gaping hole that I am finding every time I turn around.
Until I learn how to live around this sense of loss, I will continue surrounding myself with the things that brought you joy because they bring me moments of joy. I planted zinnias and two beautiful hydrangea bushes. I set my dinner table with the plates and bowls that you always used. I tell the kids all the stories of our many adventures so that your love will live on in them.
Happy Birthday, Nan. I love you. I miss you.