Above all else, Charlie loved birthdays. It didn’t matter whose birthday it was, Charlie would be pumped to sing Happy Birthday and watch/help blow out the candles. Once was never enough. We always had to sing at least twice whenever we were celebrating someone’s birthday. Witnessing Charlie’s love for birthdays made me appreciate them more. It was just one of a million things about Charlie that made me love life more.
I remember the week before he died we went to a 1 year old birthday party. When it came time to sing Happy Birthday to her, Charlie grabbed my hand and led me to a spot where he could see all of the action. Instead of watching the birthday girl, I watched Charlie throughout the song. He belted that song out to the back row as he hopped from foot to foot to the beat of song. At the end of the song, Charlie took a breath so deep it came from his toes. He then unleashed his breath to help blow out the candles. . . from seven feet away. He lustily clapped when the candles were extinguished thinking he factored into it and shot me a look that looked like he had just participated in the best rendition of Happy Birthday ever. My man talked about this birthday party for weeks before it was scheduled and I saw all of his pent up excitement and joy come to a head at the end of that song. I’ll never forget watching him sing and trying to blow out the candles from afar that day. I can picture it perfectly in my mind right now.
Charlie would talk about his impending 3rd birthday often in the weeks preceding his death. Actually, he would talk about everyone’s birthdays. He would tell anyone that would listen, “My birthday is March 30th. Daddy’s birthday is May 27th, and Mommy’s birthday is July 3rd.” We would practice singing Happy Birthday to the toy shark in the tub. We’d talk about what kind of party he wanted. He was all about Spiderman, Diego and Dora, and Buzz Lightyear at the time. He said he’d like to invite all of them to his party.
I wonder who’d he invite to his birthday party this year. I wonder how he would sound when he talked. I wonder how much more advanced his vocabulary would be. I wonder how tall he’d be. I wonder if he and his brother would get along all of the time. Danno and Char are complete opposites when it comes to some things. Charlie would calmly immerse himself into books, puzzles, or building blocks at 19 months. Dan takes those same items, bashes them together while screaming, and then throws them as far and hard as he can. I find myself laughing, and crying, thinking about what Charlie’s reaction to Danno- whom I now call “The Shark” b/c he’s in perpetual motion seeking to destroy- would be.
We got a birthday card from Toys-R-Us for Charlie last week. We cancelled it last year but I don’t think the people in the marketing department give a shit that he’s no longer alive. They just care that they sent out a certain number of mailings. Seeing this in the mail gave me a bolt of that pain I felt the night I he died. The tangible pain of the void in my soul. I’ve been weepy all week. I can’t go anywhere without encountering an emotional trigger. I can feel the stares on the train to work as I wipe tears out of my eyes before they fall down my cheeks.
I’ve said before that all days are painful so the days around anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays aren’t any different but this one is feeling differently for me. Just further proof of how unpredictable grief is and how it affects me. I remember how much Charlie loved birthdays. I don’t remember too much of his birthday from last year. I was still in shock. (I sometimes think I still am in shock, to tell the truth.) I remember having a hard time letting go of my balloon last year. When we sing Happy Birthday to my son who is not here and release balloons to him up in heaven; I will feel that void in my toes. I’ll take a deep breath from my toes and try to blow out the candles on his cake. . . no matter how far away I feel from Charlie.
Happy 4th Birthday! I wish you could be here with Mommy, Danny, and Reese so we could sing Happy Birthday to you today. I miss you more than anything in the universe. I feel your absence every second of everyday. I would do anything to hold you again. My love for you will never fade and I’ll always talk of you proudly. I love you and Mommy loves you.
Here are a couple of birthday videos with Charlie:
This was the first time we sang Happy Birthday to Charlie on his 2nd birthday. This was with my side of the family.
This rendition was with Vanessa’s side of the family.
This was Charlie singing and helping me blow out my candles. He was 2 years and two months in this video. You also get to see me lose my temper with my Mom for a moment before realizing on I was on camera.