The 30th and 31st years were hard.
A dear family member lost to suicide. My mother lost to cancer. A baby lost to miscarriage. And a father lost to old age. Three funerals, one casket, two large urns, one small. One family caught in the middle, surrounded by heartbreak, tear stained cheeks because we can’t just catch a moment to breathe between sobbing fits.
In February of my 30th year I sat up in bed in the middle of the night, I screamed and rocked back and forth over the phone call from my mother informing me of my cousin’s suicide. When his sister walked in, his sister, my cousin, my best friend, she melted into my arms and she said words and I don’t remember what they were, just that they were true and it was horrible and how do we fix this…how do we survive.
In August of my 31st year I smoked cigarette after cigarette, rode wave after wave of grief and anxiety, then walked through an empty cemetary to lay dirt upon the ashes that were once my mother. For six months afterwards I went to therapy and counseling and journaling and tried to find some closure in her life and in her death and what it all means and still came up empty.
The following April of my 31st year I dropped to my knees and banged my fists on the ground, demanding grace and answers from a God I sometimes struggle to believe in because wasn’t it enough we lost two people already…why did the baby have to go too…what did the baby do. What great purpose did forcing my brother to lose a cousin, then a mother, then his baby serve? Why them, why his wife, his beautiful, gentle, wonderful wife who’d born all my sorrow over losing my mother with me, only to go through this…why.
Urns and prayers. Psalms and cigarettes. Dark clouds of grief hanging over and a closet full of black because it feels like death walks with this family. One family. The same family. And all this loss. All at once.
Today I begin my 32nd year. Today I ask not for wealth, or beauty, or fame. I ask only for life. I close my eyes tight, inhale deeply, and blow out all 32 candles, wishing and praying we can make it through one year alive and with life. I’m praying for one year of grace. I’m wishing for one year of kindness.
Happy birthday to me. I hope the 32nd year will be a good one.