It's Maggie's birthday. She would be 22 today.
I woke up very early - like 4am - and everything just felt heavy. My limbs were like weights, the blankets were like iron and even the air was like lead. It's less of a sadness in the tears and weeping kind of way and more of a heaviness of the reality of her being gone.
Maggie's birthday was always a big celebration around here. We had many parties at school over the years through elementary, middle and high school. There were Pinapple parties, because that was her favorite word then, dance parties, Mardi gras parties and more. Then we had a giant 18th birthday party in a rented hall with 100 people. That was wild fun.
Maggie knew this was her day (and really what day wasn't?) and she relished the attention.
Despite the revelry, Maggie's birthday always had a touch of sadness too. Like many parents of kids with disabilities, birthdays are a reminder of what other kids her age are like and what she would be doing if life were different. Especially in the early years when every year in a typical kids life is so different from the last. You also can't help but remember the day she was born. That day was the second worst day of my life. The child you expect is gone and you have a different child. In time you learn what to do and how to do it and you accept and relish the differences, but at first you are just terrified and sad. The day your child is born is supposed to be happy, but that day was not. It's a bit of a harbinger to let you know that everything will be measured differently.
If Maggie were still here I would be angsting over 22 because that would mean it was time to transition to the adult world. We would have to leave the school district and find a program that would work for Maggie going forward. I would have worried about nursing and all of those things and they would have been very real concerns.
How I wish I had to do that today.
But Birthdays are happy! And Maggie was happy! And remembering that makes me Happy. Well, happiER anyway.
Happy Birthday Maggie May. I hope there are dances and pinapple and Mardi Gras celebrations for you.
I miss you every minute of every day.