Today is not the day I envisioned when Abby and I were sipping drinks in Hawaii charting out the rest of our post-cancer lives. On that day in late 2015 I was already considering how we would celebrate her 40th birthday…
…Alas, I won’t be throwing her a surprise 40th birthday at her favorite neighborhood spot, nor will we pack up the car and head to our favorite mountain town, Mazama, for a long wintery weekend with the kids. Today will be different.
Today will be different, because it has to be different. Life had other plans I could not have predicted or controlled – the headline of my personal journey these past nearly 20 months. During these many months I’ve thought a lot about today. How different it will be to celebrate a big birthday without her. I’ve had lots of feelings about it in these nearly two years, maybe you have too, and I want to share where I am at today and give you an opportunity to meet me there and celebrate Abby in a most awesome way together – wherever you are.
Nearly two years on from Abby’s death, I feel more than ever that life is profoundly beautiful – a beauty so deep it’s hard to fully comprehend. Every day is a gift. It sounds so cliché, but when you live life with this mindset it’s anything but. Today I’m evermore fortunate I get to be here and with a community that shows up for me through it all.
There are still lots of times I am sad. After losing Abby I was sad for myself, but today my sadness comes from having a moment of joy; realizing that Abby cannot be here to experience it with us. I’m sad she can’t be here to watch her life’s work, Jaren and Miri, grow and thrive. Life will be tragic and heartbreaking, hopeful and heartening all at once. Just as a black frame punctuates the photo or artwork it surrounds, losing someone special makes the love and meaning and joy in everyday so much brighter.
Today, as I reflect on Abby’s 40th birthday, she is popping out of the frame. Her smile is so much bigger, her laugh more vivid and her curls even more perfect. I hope you find a moment today to reflect on Abby and her love for you and those unforgettable moments you shared. Tonight, on the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat), Abby would want her people celebrating life with each other – feeling joy and happiness even amid our sadness.
Please join me, her family, and her vast community of friends tonight in lighting the Shabbat candles, or any candles that may have meaning to you. Feel her light and warmth. Share it with someone you love. Today will be different. It has to be different. But it will still be a gift.
Happy 40th Birthday Abby! You are loved!
Love & healing,
5 thoughts on “Happy 40th Birthday Abby”
So beautifully written, Justin. My thoughts are with you – thank you for sharing. Sending love to you all, Jules
So much love from our house is pouring into yours, Justin. This is such a beautiful tribute to beautiful Abby. Her memory continues to be a blessing to everyone who knew her.
Sending so much love. Your words are perfect and lovely.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful tribute and once again, pearls of wisdom to help others experiencing loss of love