Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Delayed Reaction

Frankie celebrated his twelfth birthday last week. For those of you that have been following us for a while, you might remember that one of the things that Tim did before he passed away, was to write birthday cards for Frankie until he turns 18. Tonight, Frankie and I read his card together.

But here is the thing. We just read it tonight. His birthday was the eighth. That was twelve days ago.

I was talking on the phone to a professor from one of the colleges that is going to book me to speak at one of their interdisciplinary training days. During that conversation, I remembered the card. Frankie was camping with his aunt so that brings us to the late date in reading it.

At first, I was quite distraught. I felt horrible and guilty for not remembering the card on the day of his birthday. What does that mean? Tim is still a part of our lives every single day. A few days ago, my friend and I were playing Yahtzee and I came across one of Tim’s score sheets. I recognized his perfect handwriting immediately. I showed it to Frankie and then I noticed the date was 1998. That was two years before I even met Tim. It caused me some teary eyed moments. It always gets to me when the reminder is unexpected. My friend told me later that she saw my face and was worried that the night was going to be ruined for me. But it was a few minutes and then it passed.

The point of that story, was that seeing his writing didn’t jerk my memory about the birthday card either. It wasn’t until the phone conversation I had later.

When I sat down with Frankie and the card, I asked him if he was upset that I forgot about it earlier. Of course, he had forgotten about it, too. He was not upset with me. He liked the card. I think I saw a little mist in his eyes, but it was a good shared moment.

I’ve been processing all of this. I’ve seen the look on a face or two when I’ve told the story. A couple of people looked like I was feeling- surprised that I had majorly screwed up like that. But it did start to occur to me, that maybe this is a positive thing. We love Tim. We miss him. We think about him every day. But maybe we are also starting to move on, just a little bit further. Maybe it is good that we are not hanging on in the same way. We are remembering him, but are also living in the present. Frankie agreed with me. Rather than being angry with me, we shared a moment of being thankful for Tim’s incredible thoughtfulness, but felt free to be moving on at the same time.

Or maybe I’m just rationalizing a major screw-up.

But I don’t think so. It was a good night.