This morning, when Beth asked “What are doing for your birthday?” I told her the truth: “Lowering my expectations.” Just last year I was so delighted when Carlos said, “Happy Birfday, Mama.” I had a day filled with special kindnesses and sweet surprises.
It’s been two weeks since my dad died. This year, I don’t want my birthday to be right now. I don’t want to think about the call I won’t be getting. Maybe in a few months, I can declare a do-over. Right now, I still need to write thank you notes for kind condolences. There’s not much that can make me happier right now.
Except maybe cake. I mean, when I’m sad AND there’s cake, it’s not as bad as being sad without any cake. And the same goes for friends too. Sad with friends is usually better than sad and lonesome.
One lesson I’ve learned from sadness is that you have to take care of yourself. Not just survival mode–you also have to take time to delight yourself. So today, I booked myself a massage. I ordered a big box of books and music that no one else would know to buy for me, stuff like Edwin McCain, Radney Foster, The Leftovers novel, and Mary Karr’s book about memoir.
I said yes when Bryn offered to bring over dinner tomorrow night. I said yes when Nicole asked me to lunch. I told G that I couldn’t think of anything I wanted right now but maybe an adventure. I emailed the Cool Kids and set up a brunch date for this weekend. I ate one of Katie’s chocolate chip cookies with a glass of wine and a crossword puzzle on the deck. I played bongos with Carlos. I watched a few minutes of “Best In Show” and I laughed about that damn Busy Bee.
And after all that, I was still sad.
But if I turn to look over my shoulder, back over today, I can’t help but see a few bright spots. And that makes it so much easier to turn my face back to the road I find myself on.
My birthday present to myself? I keep going.