It Is Not Just the Birthdays

It is not just the birthdays.

Pulling on a warm, cozy sweatshirt from the dryer on a winter day can do it. Sunshine on my face. A Jeep Wrangler passing me by on the street. The sound of laughter, far, far off in the distance. The color of Cool Blue Raspberry Gatorade. An ordinary Tuesday can do it.

Pepper, who was her dog first, can do it. Does it most days these days, now that she is fifteen and her health is failing. Bug barking at the FedEx truck idling in front of the house can do it. Can do it despite never knowing the girl I lost. Can do it because she will never know the way that girl loved animals.

It is not just the birthdays.

The old days and the new days can do it. Joy or longing. The known or the unknown. The love or the loss can do it, and the yet to be found will do it, too.  

Everything, anything, and nothing at all can breathe a memory to life. And every memory has the power to undo me. Or to soothe me. Or to bring me peace. No particular time, setting, or frame of mind makes me more or less susceptible to the undoing or to the soothing. And goddess knows my grief has never followed any rules to bring me peace. 

It is not just the birthdays. 

But it is the birthdays.

The birthdays and the death days and the holidays. Milestones are a cumulative burden upon the hearts of the grieving.

On March 17, 2023, the day Mackenzie would have turned 29, I face another milestone. Another birthday, another her day, another Mack Day. And all I can do is lean the way the memories make me. All I can do is surrender. Bending is so much easier than breaking.

Maybe this year I will be lucky. Maybe this year the memories will arrive gently, possessed with the kindness to soothe me as well as the grace to bring me peace.

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