My birthday is almost here again, and while I’m happy to be celebrating another one, for some reason I feel old. I haven’t felt like this since I turned 30, and this one isn’t even another major milestone. On March 13 I’ll be 38 years old, but unlike that guy from the Tragically Hip song, I have in fact kissed a girl. That’s not old by any measure, unless you live in biblical times, or you’re talking to one of my kids, or the babysitter. So what is it? It’s a day just like any other… right?
Well, there is the whole anniversary of Ryan’s death. That was understandably the shittiest birthday in the history of birthdays, and the two that have passed since have been varying degrees of happy and sad. Happy because I have so many wonderful people in my life that wish me well and with whom I genuinely enjoy spending time, and sad because my birthday is now an annual reminder of what’s missing.
The thing is, it would be a rare occurrence if more than two days went by where I wasn’t reminded of him, and what a big void that exists now that he’s gone. That wasn’t a fat joke Ryan, not completely at least. My birthday is a day just like any other… right?
Last week I was cleaning out the file cabinet and I came across our will. We still haven’t changed it. Ryan was to look after the kids should something terrible happen to both my wife and I. That day wasn’t my birthday. What about when I came across my snazzy new orange shoes (orange was Ryan’s favourite colour)? My first thought was that he’d thoroughly approve of the choice, but be surprised if I actually bought them. That day wasn’t my birthday either. None of the other couple hundred days in the year where something like that happens were. So why does this one day have to be different from all the others? It’s a day just like any other… right?
You’d think if anything it would be better, what with all the birthday wishes on Facebook and Twitter, the cards, the phone calls, and the now annual steak dinner out with friends. In that sense it is better. At a minimum I appreciate everything and everyone I have around me more and more every year, but it’s not a “better” day, it’s different, and it’s not just like all the others. It’s one that’s frozen in time and it stands out, not just for me but for the hundreds of people that knew him.
Honestly though, with as many reminders as I get all year, having one that’s not just like any other is fine with me. Ryan wasn’t just like anyone else and our memories of him shouldn’t be like any others either.