You were never too impressed with birthdays. “It’s just another day” was your mantra. But today is your birthday and it is my second one without you. Although it is “just another day”, that takes on an entire new meaning when this day is here, and you are not.
We will gather tonight to honor you just as we did last year when the wound was fresh and the pain palpable. The ones who love you and miss you have created ceremonies to honor you so that you are always significant in our gatherings. We speak you name. We pray with you. We laugh about your funny quirks. We cry because we miss you and the absence of your presence fills the room with sadness and emptiness. You are physically gone, but you are not gone from the family we created together,
I hope that you are proud of us. We have done what you asked us to do. We have carried on as a family and continued to honor you. It has been, I must admit, the challenge of our lives without our compass to guide us. Your sons and friends have done what they promised you that they would do. They have taken care of me. I pray that you are watching over us and that you are happy with what you see.
Days like today are supposed to be accented with celebrations. Now that you are gone, the celebration looks very different than before. It took us a long time to be able to laugh without the guilty feelings that a moment of happiness might bring. You would hate that. Now the celebration is about honoring your life and the things that you held of value. Patriotism. Integrity. Loyalty, Friendship. Family. The celebration will find me standing with the ones who love you and seeing the same traits in them because they were modeled by you. You demanded it by your actions and your expectations were high. Some could not reach that bar of excellence and those people will not join us tonight. Shame is expensive.
With a new definition of celebration, we will gather tonight to honor you on your birthday. Of course, we will have cake and tears and maybe a few funny stories. Your essence will be there because you always are there. I pray that your spirit and your soul join us as we honor you and all say how deeply you are missed. I want to feel your presence with us tonight knowing that you never really left us. We never left you either.
Your family loves you and misses you. Happy birthday, my love.