I sit down at my computer to begin writing and my notifications begin popping up. There it is, your birthday. It’s not that I would ever in my lifetime forget your birthday, not unless I also forgot mine. Because by some strange coincidence we were born on the same day, so many years apart. Today, my computer tells me, you will be 65.
But you won’t.
Because what my computer doesn’t know is that you’ve been gone now for two years. My computer doesn’t know how aggressive your skin cancer was. My computer doesn’t know that we stayed up late with you in your last days, that we stood over you hand in hand praying, that we whispered into your ear “it’s okay, now, let go.”
My computer doesn’t know the agony we felt those February days, nor the pain we processed through in the months to follow, nor the pain that we still process today, it strikes at the strangest moments, and I find myself missing you like crazy. It doesn’t know that I was pregnant with my daughter as we paddled out in Turtle Bay on our joint birthday. We released your ashes into the swell. We said one final good-bye. After I sat on the shower floor scrubbing sand off my feet and out of the coral induced wound on my heel weeping.
That day was my birthday, our birthday. And it was the first birthday that I couldn’t pick up the phone and dial you expecting the hear “Happy Birthday Rachie” on the line.
My computer doesn’t know that we spent our last birthday together. We had dinner in San Diego and you ominously said “well I made it another year.” I remember the face you made, the way you rolled your eyes. Something was off, and even though you hadn’t been diagnosised yet, I think you knew.
You knew. You knew we would never paddle out again, nor holler your joyous “yippy” as you snatched the wave I’d been waiting for. The grin on your face from ear to ear. I think you knew it would be quick, even through you didn’t want to admit it. I remember the day I came to visit you after you were diagnosed, you tried so hard to be you, shining blue eyes, but they filled with tears as you told me that if you died you had lived a good life, you had loved well, and been loved well.
Isn’t that what really matters? To love well, to be loved well?
My computer doesn’t know what love is. It doesn’t know how deep our bond was. It doesn’t know that I regret to this day not putting you into the car and driving you to the ocean, but you were so sick, in so much pain. We couldn’t move you. I know that you don’t want me to hold on to this. I know it. You know it. But my computer doesn’t.
My computer does know, however, to remind me to wish you a happy birthday, an alarm I’ll never remove as just seeing your name makes me feel good, sad, but good. So today, a happy day, a birth day, I receive phone calls and cards, well wishes and blessings and I think of the gift you gave me, the important one, the love. The love that you didn’t owe me, but you gave so freely. The friendship, the long conversations, the smoothie dates, and the chopstick lessons. You were one of my best friends, in my heart you’ll always be.
Happy Birthday. Until we meet again.