It’s your birthday.
You would have been 45.
In my head, your birthdays look like this:
Why did I wear a halter top if I felt compelled to fold my arms across my stomach? I look uncomfortable. You look beautiful, as always.
Do you remember that Halloween that we put on costumes and went to the new mall? Lisa dressed like a reindeer.
Halfway through the afternoon, we ran into some boys you knew from school. I felt important to be noticed by them. Looking back, I know they weren’t noticing me. They were noticing you. And maybe the reindeer.
When my dad came to pick us up, we each gave those boys a quick kiss. I had never kissed anyone before and, more importantly, my dad had never seen me kiss anyone before. I can only imagine the conversation between him and my mom that night.
I’d love to have a conversation with you.
Shhhh. Don’t tell anybody, but sometimes I talk to you anyway. I figure it’s worth it, because maybe you can hear me from wherever you are. Maybe you even have some way to respond.
Today, I told you that I feel overwhelmed by the challenges with my son. He is home from school again and I am teary and mad and teary and mad and teary again and madder still. And sad. Maybe you would listen to that.
Maybe you would also babysit now and then to help me keep my sanity. I could use that today. A lot.
“Lot” is one of my son’s high frequency vocabulary words this week. I can’t get school off my brain. There’s always some dilemma with school.
Yesterday, there was a series of minor mishaps in the classroom. My son was not to blame, but I guess his routine was a bit derailed by it. Today, he doesn’t want to go back.
Talking about it distressed him so immediately and completely, that I couldn’t even stay in the room. I went to the garage and cried in the dark. I needed him to go today.
I needed him to go because this post was supposed to be about you, not him.
When I had stopped crying enough to think for a moment, I decided that home needed to be as boring as I could possibly make it. I came in from the garage and wrote some rules.
If he stayed here, there would be no television, no toys, no legos, no computer, no open snack choices, no store, no friends, no outside. There would be nothing fun. I would bore him out of staying.
He would sit on the couch all day and eat only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for his lunch and all snacks. Surely he would choose to go to school, right?
Wrong. He is home and we’re both going crazy. And your lovely birthday post has been hijacked.
I have successfully managed to keep the child on the couch with no real activity for about an hour. He is bored out of his mind and he wants something to eat that isn’t pb&j. What do I do? Is this what I wanted? I hate it. What would you tell me?
A few minutes ago, he got up from the couch and just as I was about to direct him back again, he said “Thomas hug a Mama?” Of course we hugged. And now I am possessed by guilt. And tears. Great.
Another hour has passed and we have gone to my friend’s house to walk her dog. I mean your friend’s house. I inherited her from you. That was a very nice gift to leave behind. Thank you.
Now the little boy is doing everything he can to push the boundaries of his circumstances. I am standing firm to the rules I wrote out for him this morning. But he is getting agitated, so what do I do? What would you tell me to do?
Maybe I wouldn’t listen to you. Maybe I would even get annoyed if you threw in your two cents before it was solicited. Maybe.
He wants to play on the computer. He sees me in my computer chair. He sees that I am typing something and he wants to do that too.
He doesn’t know that I’m having a chat with my departed friend. He thinks I’m playing. He doesn’t know that it isn’t the least bit fun for me to only wonder what you’d think.
I can’t make my autistic child sit on the couch all day. Heading for Plan B. Are you coming with me?
Okay, crisis averted. Crisis of autistic behaviors. Crisis of conscience. Crisis of parenting without my friend to see me though it.
Back to you. And me. And us.
Do you remember when nerf balls first appeared and the only thing we ever thought to do with them was stuff a couple under our shirts and pretend to be Dolly Parton? Here’s you with two:
Everything was funny to us. There was a shorthand to our humor. I miss that so much sometimes. It’s not just anybody’s broken bone boredom that could get me to do this:
Happy Birthday, my beautiful friend.
I love you.