Today is my husband’s birthday. It’s the fourth since he’s died and the first that I’m “celebrating”. I made a cake. The same cake I’ve made dozens of times and the one he made for me the week he died. It is fail-proof and ridiculously simple and yet it sits on my counter, sunken, misshapen and tilting precariously. I think where I screwed up was in my self-consciousness. I was acutely aware that I was making a cake for my dead husband and wondering how crazy that really was. I thought all this while crying and stirring. The crying didn’t prevent me from eating the disaster, mind you.
There’s a major snowstorm today in the northeast and it’s not the first time that has happened on his birthday. I’m reminded of a time we had to abandon the car on a hill and hitchhike home after seeing a band in a dive bar. We found some vegan restaurant workers with a van that reeked of bong water and found our way home through darkened country roads to our snow covered home and 9-month-old Bichon. We moved to the city years ago and I know exactly how we’d be spending this birthday. I would be making his annual “peanut butter & jelly” breakfast (challah french toast, layered with nutella and warm preserves, topped with berries and maple syrup) and we’d spend the day seeing Harry Potter on Broadway. He would’ve loved it. I would take him to an old school restaurant for dinner (we had been making our way through all the classics; 21, Four Seasons, etc.) and fall into bed.
This is the first year I have indulged in any birthday celebration or fantasy. Part of me resents this experience. It’s bad enough I have to get through every other holiday and milestone; NOW THIS?! But I also am reveling in this private time between me and my memories. I miss him so much. My life is different now, as am I. I don’t think I’m living in the past. But oh what I would give for one day back in time. I’d even go back to that disgusting van filled with stoners if it meant sitting by his side. Together we were so much better than we ever were apart.
I can’t go back. Life is not a movie. But I can spend today thinking of him and remembering what it felt like to have everything I’d ever wanted and needed. Happy Birthday, Husband.