He shall not grow old…

So today, which is now yesterday, would have been Matt’s 49th birthday. Another first has come and gone, and I have used every tool at my disposal, and then some, ill advised or otherwise, to get through it. It wasn’t easy.

The first two thirds of the day were basically pretty hideous, as I sat on my own outside for hours and hours on my shaded seat looking out at the sun, and counted the minutes by, and basically kept as busy as possible doing nothing of any importance, as long as it kept my mind focussed elsewhere. Which wasn’t that successful, considering the breakthrough episodes of crying that would just hit me when my thoughts stopped skirting around the issue and accidentally bumped into it head on instead. And those episodes would kind of scare me because I wasn’t sure that having started I’d be able to stop and I knew I had a long day to get through, and I didn’t know if I could make it feeling like that. But I guess I did. Here I am. And as the day passed, thanks to Facebook amongst other things, I’ve had some lovely messages from friends and family, and also directly in reply from Matt’s kids, who I contacted because I wanted them to know I was thinking of them all today. Well, we all knew what day it was, even if most of the world did not. How could we not? When someone is alive, it’s quite easy to get busy, and distracted, and to forget someone’s birthday…but once they’re gone? That date suddenly shines like a beacon, and you can see the fateful day coming from weeks away. And man, once you get there, the pain… Grief hurts SO much; it curls you into a ball around yourself because it hurts so much, it leaves you literally unable to stand up straight. Every first, especially this one, rips the scab off again. And it’s not like there’s been much scab lately anyway, more of an raw open weeping wound… Once again I have not been coping well, and I’ve ended up in some, now sadly familiar, very dark places several times. I know I need to find some additional help somehow, somewhere, whilst not really believing that there’s anything that can help, so what’s the point?

If the whole day had been like that, then… But it wasn’t so let’s not go there. The final third of the day was improved by Austin bringing Tash home from uni. Obviously I knew this was happening, so I knew there was something at the end of the day to look forward to. I knew I couldn’t just take to my bed and hide there until it had gone away. And it helped to know I wasn’t going to be without support all day, which I usually am. Duly home they came, and the three musketeers are finally back together, it’s us against the world again, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have Tash home again, having not seen her since January. We got take out, we drank fizz, we toasted Matt, we toasted Tash’s return, and we watched films, and we were together. And if I cried, nobody minded, it’s not like they weren’t expecting it after all.

But…

Every year since I met Matt, we have celebrated his birthday together. And to be celebrating what should have been his birthday without him? Well it’s neither a celebration, nor a birthday is it? It’s just a day when the dark cloud over you feels that much more oppressive, and the loss feels more acute again, because his absence is brought glaringly and sharply into focus. It’s another “should have been”.

I can’t believe he’s not here to be 49. That he’ll never be 50. That he’ll never age. To paraphrase; “He shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old”. And then there’s the fact that one day I will be older than he ever was. Than he ever got to be. It’s just wrong. I still can’t believe he’s gone, and I just can’t get my head around the unfairness of it, the waste, the loss… I don’t think the human brain is actually capable of properly comprehending it. It’s just too big, too much. I do know that however life moves on, a part of me will always love him. Right now, that part is still all of the me that’s left around the massive gaping hole he’s left in me.

Two years ago I had these made for us for his birthday. Two separate pieces of a puzzle that just fitted together perfectly, because that’s what we both always said, what amazed us both – how we just fitted. He loved them, and he wore his pretty much all the time, and I wore mine much the same. These days I wear them for both of us but they are now separated, bizarrely yet oddly appropriately, by the last gift he bought for me on our last beach break away together. We may not have had that wedding, and said the things we wanted to say, but sadly we were together until death did us part. And there death sits now, separating us one from the other. Maybe one day, someway, somehow we’ll get to fit again, when my turn comes. In the meantime I wear them, and feel just a little bit closer to him, and I’ll take that any day of the week.

I couldn’t get to a beach today, and I couldn’t face climbing the long road up the hill on my own yet again. I just didn’t have it in me. I’m drained and exhausted and weak at the moment. But I did make it to the res with Kevin, in socially distanced fashion, and we raised a glass (well ok, a can) to him there instead, one of many that have been raised today. Matt would most definitely have approved.

And so here we are. The day loomed, arrived, hurt like f*ck, and is now done. Another first has been marked for him, without him. There will be more, but this one was probably amongst the worst. It’ll take me a couple of days to recover, put the pieces back together. But I made it through. I just have to keep doing that, one day at a time.

Just in case you were in any doubt, I love you, my eternally young, beautiful, birthday boy. This one’s for you. Happy Birthday wherever you are {{{hugs}}} xx.

“The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long,
and you burned so very, very brightly.”

💔

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