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Still here

Another trip around the sun. 

Another year where I cherished memories of you but I was denied the opportunity to create new ones that included you. 

Another year in which I felt blessed in so many ways and yet, somehow, still felt some emptiness. 

This year, we took some brave steps as a family. We grew. We welcomed someone else into our world. Sometimes it's challenging but mostly it's a joy. 

You are still a part of this.
Forever four. Forever in my heart.
Since you left us in 2010, I have struggled each year with what feels like an "appropriate" way to acknowledge your birthday. It's not a celebration but sitting in a puddle of tears doesn't really work either. Almost every year, it's a largely private affair and the buildup to the day is almost always more difficult (emotionally) than the day itself.

Even though I know that there is no correct way to handle this strange thing called grief, there's a huge part of me that thinks I should find a "right answer". It's either a lesson in futility or a Zen practice. Maybe it's a little of both. 

It helps to find comfort in friends and family who understand (sometimes). It helps to have many other things that compete for my attention. Healthy distractions are, well, healthy. People ask what they can do to support us.  They mean well and I appreciate the effort. I just don't know the answers myself.  Sometimes I don't even know what I need so I just go with the flow. There we are back to Zen again.

I am eternally reminded as I move through life that you are forever four and the rest of the world keeps turning. While others change their profile pictures with the seasons, sharing new family photos filled with joyous memories, I'm stuck with pictures of your first four years in heavy rotation. I'm making new memories with Kiddo but I can't really share them. It's a strange existence in terms of the way we live our modern lives in a social community. 

Over the past few years, I have described this grief process using different analogies. I will be the first to admit that I'm not a complete original. Others have also found similar ways to describe the grief process.

It's like surfing the waves
It's like developing scar tissue over a wound
It changes your perspective. 
It burns and flickers like a candle.

I think of all these analogies as I honor the day of your birth.  It helps me to remember that there is no wrong answer. Four birthdays with you. Five birthdays without you. I'm still your mama. I'm still on this journey and I know that in a small way, you are still here too. 

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