Last Saturday, June 7, would have been my father-in-law's birthday.
Yes, a week before Father's Day.
Yes, we have now forged through Easter, my niece/my birthday, Mother's Day, my mother-in-law's birthday, Memorial Day, his birthday, Father's Day, Flag Day...you name it.
Yes, they all are bittersweet. (By the way, I am beginning to hate that word, but unfortunately that crappy word sums up life these days.)
Websters says the definition of bittersweet is "pleasure alloyed with pain."
Want to know my interpretation?
We are choosing to live. We are choosing joy. We are choosing love.
But, it still just plain sucks.
And have you ever tried to deal with grief in a multi-generational setting? Quite the challenge.
But in a way, having these children around, having them know what happened to Pops, talking openly about Pops, remembering fond memories of Pops, and having them see our emotions on both good days and bad, has helped us all.
So, with that being said, on a day that we knew had high potential for being sucky, we decided to have a birthday party.
Brooklyn helped choose the menu, based on what she remembers Pops loving....shrimp and s'mores. I added in ribs and slaw, because I knew we all loved that.
Jake drew a picture.
Claire smiled and entertained.
There was swimming, there were balloons, there were laughs (even from the adults), and there was love.
God, it still sucks, though.
I could have painted a pretty picture for you, you know. A post filled with happy, smiling photos of the kids and some great Instagram-ish food pics. But that was for Facebook. Here, on this blog, you all deserve to know the story behind the pictures.
We are still hurting. We are still mourning this loss, and we know we will for a long, long time. Like a forever long time. We feel blessed with what time we did have. But we feel cheated, oh so cheated, for the times that will never come. We are lost many days. We find ourselves staring blankly at a recliner...at tile work...at a homemade train table...at pictures. We sometimes feel, out of nowhere, like someone just punched us in the gut. We call them "waves." Sometimes we can talk openly about it. Sometimes we can't. I see prayer requests on Facebook and in emails, and do you know, I pray extra hard these days for those requests? Because I know that your prayers for US are the only thing that gets us through these times.
Life changed March 18. Chad and I admitted this week that there are now two parts to our life. The days before March 18 and the days after.
Time can soften the blow, yes. (The waves do come less frequently the more time that passes.) Prayers can offer comfort and peace and rest, oh yes. But loving each other and spending as much time with those you love and making those times count, that's what ultimately gets you by.
So, on this day, at this birthday party, we loved. We laughed. We ate and drank. We released balloons. We remembered. And then we loved some more.
Happy, happy birthday, Larry.
God, I miss you.
You were so loved by many. You were loved by many because of who you were. You were so loved because of how you loved others. You gave freely of yourself. You were 100% genuine. You gave hugs that could take your breath away. You called us on the phone "just because." You found things to build and fix just because you could and you wanted to. You listened, but you also really liked to talk. You reminded us to slow down in life and enjoy every second of the ride. You were relieved when I finally admitted that I wasn't Superwoman. You bought me as many crab legs as I wanted and loved the fact that I could eat as many as you. And you showed us that the people in your family included way more than just the people that shared your DNA or your last name.
Family was everything to Larry. Once you were in, you were in. And if you weren't in, it wasn't because he didn't want you in.
It was just because he hadn't met you yet.