Today is the birthday of my life mate/soul mate. I suppose I should say “was” the birthday — he’s been dead for more than three years. We never celebrated our birthdays, and for some reason, that seems sad to me now. I never told him “Happy birthday,” never made him a birthday cake, never gave him a birthday present.
He didn’t believe in continued life after death, and yet, when I went through his “effects” a couple months after he died, I found a quote he had saved: “Life is rather a state of embryo — a preparation for life. A man is not completely born until he has passed through death.”
Did he believe those words? Did he want to believe them? Or was the quote something that caught his attention once upon a time, and he kept it whether he believed it or not? Still, I wonder — if he continues to exist somewhere, does he celebrate his death day as his birthday? Or does he still not believe in celebrating such rites of passage?
We were alike in our disinterest in such celebrations, but ever since he died, I’ve been making a point of celebrating life’s moments. So today I got the birthday cake I never got for him while he was alive. (And hey, if he doesn’t want any, then there’s more for me!) I will watch one of the movies he taped and remember when he used to sit by my side and watch with me. I will think of him, not as he would be today, 67 years old, or even as he was at the end, but as he was when we met — young, radiant, and be-coming.
I will give thanks that he shared his life with me.
And I will say those words I never spoke before, “Happy birthday, Jeff.”
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.