Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Happy Birthday, Little Ninja

What do you do with two years of grief? How do you package it into a carefully wrapped birthday present? I have tried - and failed - to write this post for about a month. Everytime, I can't find the right words. I want to be inspirational and positive. I want to wish my little girl a happy birthday and I want to mean it. I want to feel better about February 25th than I did last year, but I don't.

I think it's natural to think of grief - and really all things in life - as linear. Everything has a starting point, an ending point, and a forward moving progression between them. Right? No! In reality, the only thing in life that is actually linear is time - and even that theory is simply still a theory. Nothing is linear. Nothing progresses from start to finish in a logical order. Relationships are intermingling paths that constantly criss-cross between intimacy and estrangement. Learning requires a back and forth weaving of information, interaction, and experience. Even career paths progress in tangles of work and opportunity that often double back on themselves and omit steps altogether. Life's start is birth and its finish is death, but the inbetween is anything but linear. I don't know why we keep putting this stipulation on grief of all things!

I think we need to stop thinking of life and all things in it as something to progress through and start thinking of it as something to simply experience. We have to stop putting judgements on ourselves and others regarding where we "should be" and just take time to focus on where we actually "are". We aren't ahead or behind. We don't need to slow down or catch up. This straight line we keep trying to keep ourselves attached to doesn't even exist. Life isn't a straight line. It's a jumbled and knotted string, and as we live it, we will return to the same point many times. We will skip over other pieces entirely. We will loop through and twist around. We will loosen knots in some places while tightening them in others. We will do all of these things in the order that makes sense to us. Sometimes, we may need help and other times, we might need to work through it on our own. But, however we decide to wade through our life is the right way, and someone who is frustrated with the way you have decided to untangle your string is simply trying to distract themselves from their own knots.

I'm tired of judging myself and of where I am "supposed to be" by now. I am tired of giving myself a hard time for still being sad sometimes. I'm tired of other people assuming they understand my knot when we clearly have different textured string. So, I'm done. I refuse to bend to the Linear Theory. This is where I am. This is the point in my string. I am untangling as best as I can just like everyone else.

Today is Kenley's birthday. She is two years old. Two! She's not a baby anymore. I don't even know how I am supposed to picture her. I am still completely devastated that she is not here to celebrate her birthday. I still cannot bring myself to "celebrate" this day where I make a cake and sing "Happy Birthday", and I am not going to let myself feel bad about that. I'm not going to spin myself into a cloud of self judgement because I have been made to feel that things should be different by now, that I should be different, that my grief should be different.

Happy Birthday, Kenley Evelyn.   

"I'll love you forever.  I'll like you for always.  As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."


  1. Happy Birthday Kenley. You are absolutely right. I've ceased thinking of grief in any static or finite terms long ago. I wish others would do the same to stop inadvertently (or not) judging and advising and measuring us against an unseen pedastal model. I can be difficult sometimes to navigate the "should be's". We place this unreachable expectation on ourselves harsher than those outside our sphere do. The ones inside, we know better, but we're our own worst enemy sometimes, and it is FRUSTRATING!
    Birthdays are a day of remembrance, and you have accomplished that and you have chosen to share it with us, so for that I thank you- who needs a cake to prove that the child you love was born. You are a mother, you remember (everyday). Its terrible that she cannot be there to celebrate with you in person. Hugs to you, and here's to figuring out how to untangle.
    -Stacey (from tangerine owl)

  2. As sad as I am that our babies share the same year birthday, its comforting to have someone who I can relate to. This May will be Carter's second birthday. I'm sorry that we share this experience, but thankful to have gotten the chance to meet him, just as I'm sure you feel similar about Kenley Evelyn. Much hugs