Joey's 30th birthday is on Monday, and we are gathering on Sunday --to what? celebrate? honor him? grieve together? I'm not sure. For the past week, every time I think of that birthday, I mentally run and hide. It feels how I feel when I see violence on the 6:00 News and quickly turn the channel. I just don't want to think about it.
In losing Joey, I also lost myself. I lost my ability to function at capacity; my ability to enjoy life; my ability to engage with the people and events around me. Now I often just feel like a body going through the motions of life without the e-motions. If I were hooked up to one of those hospital machines that reads heart beats, I think it would register an emotional flatline.
I can't bring Joey back, but I'm trying really hard to bring myself back. For my grandchildren. So they can have their Nana back. So life isn't so sad and grim for them. So their hopes and dreams don't die under the weight of sorrow, before they've even emerged. We've all lost our sparkle. I look into the faces of every family member, from the oldest to the youngest, and there is something gone there. Something's missing from the little faces that I hope will one day re-light.
So I'm trying for them. And I do okay on a day-to-day basis, though sometimes it feels like I'm just barely on my feet, pushing myself to walk. But with any big Joey anniversary coming, it knocks me off my path. I go a little crazy inside trying to find a resting place. I lean on my faith that God has Joey and he's safe. I remind myself that there's a new world coming where we will truly celebrate again. I thank Jesus that he is the Resurrection and the Life. That gives a bit of rest. Thankfully.
But I can't help but think about what would have been. Certainly my son's 30th birthday would have been a big deal. After all, he was our baby. We always knew that after everybody else had celebrated a milestone, Joey's were still to come. That was exciting for us and kept us young. We know his 30th would have, at the very least, entailed a poker table. Maybe even a trip to Vegas with Rachel and JR and Theo and the Abrahams. Maybe Kevin and Molly and his whole Second Family would have joined us, and Uncle Don and Auntie Viv. Maybe bigger than that: a family trip to Italy. All I know is, it would have been big... and fun... because he was the master of fun.
So now it's neither big nor fun. It's an obstacle to get over. I desperately search for a way to redeem these days for something good, but I haven't found the way to do that yet. I guess for now, I will have to be content to just survive them.