Happy birthday, I say in the dark, to the man no longer here, to the man I shouldn’t still care for but do, despite my best efforts, despite the attempts to drown him in drink or the skin of another or leaves on a patio and soft moonlight, all of the thousand distractions I have concocted to make the truth less true, that he wounded me and then left without a word.
Happy birthday, I say in the dark, to the man no longer there. You made me cry. You made my son cry. You withheld the kindness of even a single word, of any kind of goodbye, left me fumbling around in some nowheresville, wondering if one of the people I cared for most saw nothing in me to value, why was I so convinced there was?
Still, I remember the way your laughter lit up a room, your children’s hearts, maybe too, even mine for a time. So happy birthday, I say in the rain, say in the darkness, say from the porch alone, say from the depths of me, happy birthday.
I wish you joy. With all of my heart, I wish you joy.
Someday I’ll stand on the patio and it will just be October 2nd, not a date worth remarking at all. Just early fall, leaves on the ground, chill in the air, pumpkins and tree branches and dreams of winter around the corner. It’ll just be October; it’ll just be ordinary. And it won’t occur to me to miss you at all.
I think I’ll grieve that most.