Birthday Boy


Robert would be 80 today. His birthday was always fun,though it took a few years for him to admit that he was looking forward to it. He had a favorite colleague, Ted, who shared his birthday and would always send us a message. Bless his heart, Ted continued that tradition after Robert’s death, obviously writing to me instead. I hope to hear from him today.

But, you never know. Life changes. Robert and the life we shared is gone. This photo for example, is of Christmas dinner in 2010. It shows Robert’s younger son Edward, his daughter Tracy and two of his grandchildren, Moses and Zachary. I never see and rarely hear from them any more. Now you may be thinking well yes, dear, you moved to France. But really, psychologically, the distance between France and their homes is no farther than the distance between their homes and the Berkeley hills, where we used to live. Would I see or hear more of them if I were still in that house? I doubt it.

I thought that this year I would shift from writing about Robert on his death date to writing, if I do, on his birth date. Death is so depressing. Birth, new beginnings, all that life, that’s better. As I sit here, wondering what to write, all I can think is that I should have made this shift last year. This year whatever new life I may have going is well established.

My life has more or less been shaped in chapters, usually marked by a significant death, one that sends my life in a completely different direction. Always before I was glad for the change. This time, no, I wanted the old life to go on forever. Too bad. Think again.

No question, though, this is a new chapter. I hope it won’t remain as bumpy as it has been. We shall see. I am blessed to have a few good friends who have made the transition with me. Friends that I have made since I moved to France are delightful, valued more than they may realize. I think when I look back the bumps will not seem so serious — still no completed house, for example, but completion is bound to happen, some time — and I will be able to focus on the many blessings that I have received.

Recently I read that in most traditions the belief is that the spirit moves from earth to the spirit realm, whatever a given society believes that to be, by the end of three years. Could be less but rarely more. My life has had that feeling to it. I could call up Robert to help solve a problem, help me fall asleep, face a difficult issue, whatever. Toward the end of three years, that feeling faded. Robert was never one to stick around unnecessarily or have any trouble adapting to a new situation. I think he’s on his way now. If a major issue comes up, can I call on him again, bring him back from wherever? I don’t know. I sure hope so.

So happy birthday, to someone who is now outside time, to whom a birthday has no meaning. You are loved and missed, every single day. When days and birthdays no long mean anything to me, I hope to see you again.


6 thoughts on “Birthday Boy

  1. What a beautiful post. I think you are right about the 3 years, there really is a point after which we feel we can no longer ‘reach’ them for the help we used to. I felt the same sort of timescale when I lost my first husband. It’s sad, but it’s also the only way we can move on at all. I admire that you have switched your focus from the anniversary of his death to his birth, because we all need to remember that love is in the living and not the dying. Thinking of you and hoping you have happy times just ahead


    1. Thank you. Thanks largely to my life with Robert, I have a lot to look forward to.

      Time doesn’t heal, really, but it has allowed me to layer some experiences over those of our life together. That in itself is a big help.


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