Time sure flies. It’s my birthday again today!! Never in my life have I looked forward to a birthday as I have this year. Being born in April has its share of good and bad. I remember my birthday always being in the middle of my exams when I was a kid. The likelihood of my birthday falling on Good Friday or Easter was very high. Birthdays were never lavish or extravagant but I guess they were significant. As a young kid in my sixth grade I still remember getting a bicycle as a birthday gift, my husband surprising me with a birthday party, a family drive to my birthday dinner with my husband and 2 sons, where we shared what we meant to each other. I have also had the joy of donating the money I got for my birthday celebrations as a teenager for a cause close to my heart and of course how can I forget how I was pick pocketed and lost my birthday allowance that was kept to treat my friends.
With so many memories I remember 2 years back it was just 2 weeks after burying my son I had a birthday. Now do I celebrate or grieve? What can a birthday mean after you bury your 7 year old son?
Well thankful for my family that supported me. Yes, there was no big party but 2 years later when I look back God did make it significant. I remember the weekend before my birthday Nathaniel, our elder son, wanted to go out to one of our families favorite restaurant. Well I didn't want to go as I would miss Neville but I also learnt that I could not deny Nathaniel the joy of going out with family. Nathaniel in his own way must have gone through a tough 3 months, during the time his younger brother was sick. I remember my parents finally decided to take us, I remember my mom telling me "Sherene I know we are in no mood of celebrating your birthday yes we don’t have to even remember it or think of it but it can be your birthday lunch". We went out the weekend before my birthday which happened to be Easter, which was not the best day to go to that restaurant because of the chaos and crowd of Easter but it sure helped us move forward.
Incidentally, on my birthday, my parents had planned to go to Vellore (the place I grew up) for some work. My husband and me decided to tag along and try and finish up some pending work with my drivers license as I guess we did not have anything particular to do as my husband had left his Job in Semerang, Indonesia and it was to soon to decide "what's next"?
Well my parent's work took them near my school ‘Ida Scudder school’, Vellore. It was the ideal time to visit the school, as despite the kids being on Summer vacation, the teachers were still working but was I in an emotional state to go actually ? No. Not wanting to let go of this opportunity my husband and me went and met a few of my teachers as many had retired. The teachers who encouraged and guided us when we were in school did encourage me that day too and it sure brought healing. Of couse that night my mother –in- law had prepared a tasty meal which we all had together. It was nice to have both parents and my parents-in law with us ofcourse the birthday was downplayed as parents we were grieving the loss of our son, while our parents were grieving the loss of their grandson but they also had the task of supporting their son and daughter and another grandson coping with the loss and I’m sure Nathaniel had his own set of worries.
Need to mention, having finished my formalities with my driving license that day I was able to apply for my international driving license by chance a few months later, which allows me to drive in Indonesia. 2 years later the birthday I did not want to celebrate has become significant in helping me moving forward and also yes I can look back and it brings me more joy than the actual grief I faced at that time.
Fast forward one year, that’s one year back I wanted to really get back into the mood of celebrating. Well I really did not plan anything but it was planned by God but I remember the weekend before my birthday we went to a Safari nearby and it was our first day out sightseeing once we moved to Jakarta, Indonesia. I was invited by the mothers of Nathaniel’s classmates, for a lunch which I was not sure what I was getting into but has helped me develop new friends and what started that day has significantly changed my life. Ofcourse since I met them for the first day I never told them it was my birthday.
Well I decided to cook Indian food for the church fellowhip we were attending that day. Neville and birthday cakes go hand in hand. Yes for our kids' birthdays we ordered cakes but for my husband and our parents I would bake a cake and the boys would help me decorate it. Always wondered if I would ever get over that. Took it as a challenge and baked my birthday cake last year and Nathaniel helped me decorate it. My husband on his part wanted to surprise me with a cake. Ended up with 2 cakes - it sure has helped us move forward.
When I look back at these memories I wonder how was I able to move forward, where did this strength come from? I can confidently say it is from the God who created me and still cares for me. He taught me how to handle my grief. He challenged me to do things I was not sure I wanted to do. When I obeyed I was filled with a joy and peace unexplainable. He brought into my life people who went through similar situations and also took similar decisions and it sure encourages me.
2 years later I can say when the God who created me and cares for me fills the vacuum created by the loss of my loved one( easier said than done), life becomes worth living and there is in life a purpose which is beyond what meets the eye. We need to willingly let go and move on. Letting go is not to assume it did not exist or brush it away as a bad incidence but it is when the negative emotions associated with a person or circumstance is replaced by positive emotions, Only God can bring out this change in us if we allow him.
This Year looking forward to celebrating my birthday with my twin I should say - I'm happy I finally found somebody born on the same day and the same year in another part of the world. For all these years I would celebrate my birthday with my cousin who was 1 year 1 day older than me. Today its with a twin with different earthly parents but we have the same Heavenly father. Looking forward to this day...