Birthday reflections – by Simone
It was my birthday this weekend. Since Bella died, birthdays for me have been hard. She died 3 weeks after my 34th birthday and so it always felt that that specific birthday marked the last time I innocently went on and celebrated life, completely oblivious to what was to come, how much our lives were going to be completely changed forever. How my heart was going to be shattered into a million pieces and how hard it was going to be to paste it together again.
My first birthday after Bella died, Thomas had also just died and I was completely broken, mentally and physically. I refused to celebrate my birthday at all. I didn’t take calls, wouldn’t do anything to mark the day, and just pretended that it was a normal day. Birthdays for me have always been a time to take stock of where I am, and to really celebrate the year that has passed. That year there certainly didn’t feel like there was anything to celebrate at all. Year 2 and 3 were still hard, tainted with a lot of sadness, broken dreams, fertility issues – generally just a feeling of not having a huge amount to celebrate, like life had just been really really hard. And it also always marked for me the fact that 3 weeks later we would be marking the day that Bella died. I always find this day, and the build up to it very hard.
But some how this year, the 4th birthday since she died, I felt okay about my birthday. I felt like it was possible to reflect on the past year and to celebrate me and what I had achieved. Because I feel like I have come a really long way in the last year. In finding my “new normal”. I was going to say in finding myself again, but I know that I will never be that person I was before Bella died. But I feel like I have come a long way in figuring out the new me, the one that not only exists after all the loss and trauma, but that can actually thrive again. I know that I will be forever changed, but that doesn’t mean that I am a worse version of me. A different version yes, but a version I am working on being proud of. One that isn’t totally defined by what has happened to me, but rather that shows that I can thrive again.
This year I have done a lot for me. And I have got some closure on things. I feel like the Resilience Retreat that I went on last year at the end of August really marked the beginning of this for me. I have focused on getting my body stronger and more physically able to cope with things. I ran the half marathon I committed to doing and have continued to exercise at least 5 times per week, getting stronger all the time. At the Sweat1000 class I went to on Saturday I felt strong and great, rather than feeling like I was going to pass out like 9 months ago when I first started going to Sweat. While my leg is still really my “achilles heel” I refuse to let is handicap me or limit what I do. I have (mostly) come to terms with the fact that we won’t be having any more children, and I have made peace with the fact that we really did try everything possible. I am in a better place mentally and I have done a lot of work in this regard. My sleep is still awful, but I am trying to work on that.
But most of all, I am just so so grateful for the life that I do have, for being able to love it to the full every day. For James and Murray, for the chance to be the best mom I can be to our child on this earth, for the family and friends that I have, the work environment that I get to participate in and the fulfillment I get from it. For the privileged life I really do get to live, the beautiful home we live in, the opportunities I have every day. And I am grateful that I get to continue to impact on others lives in some way, through our blog, through my speaking, by reaching out to others who are grieving to help to give them hope and shine a light in their time of darkness.
Dear Simone,I always read your writing with such mixed emotions-
such sorrow for all you have been through in your life
Such gratitude for all the love you get from James and Murray
Such admiration for you for the way you cope and how you have grown
Such amazement for the way in which you help so many people
I could go on and on. I think of you so often and these reflections on birthdays reminded me of something…. we were in America one year in July and in a museum shop I bought a book for you for your 10th birthday about a little girl who went to Paris with her gardener friend. When we returned home I realised it was too juvenile for you so never posted it. I still have it and at least my grandchildren all loved it.
Take care and lots of love to you,