I was thinking a few days ago about my sadness over Leif's approaching birthday and how hard it is to think about him not being there to celebrate it, not spending it with us or off on some date and texting me about having a good time, not making his favorite food or taking him to a favorite restaurant, not getting a present for him, and for remembering that last sad birthday he had here.
I was thinking about a friend who celebrates her dead daughter's birthday by going to the cemetery with cake and balloons to celebrate. I liked that idea and that spirit, but it's not something that would be either possible or appropriate at Bay Pines National Cemetery. It would look very strange to take a lawn chair and sit in front of the wall of a columbarium with cake and balloons. There's not even any real place to leave flowers. I could sit somewhere quite a ways away and eat some cake, but that seems completely artificial in that setting.
But thinking about this I had a sudden idea. Rather than doing nothing on that day but be sad and go to the cemetery, we SHOULD celebrate his birth, celebrate the gift that he was, by doing something he would have enjoyed and would be glad to see us doing; go out to lunch or dinner, go to the beach, go to a movie, have a beer, do something fun, something new.
We have always combined trips to the cemetery with other more enjoyable things to do in the St. Petersburg area, but only once with the idea that we had once been there with Leif and were doing it in his memory. Now I think we will plan something special on his birthday each year and raise a glass of beer or wine in his honor.
it won't stop me from missing him, and I'm sure there will be some tears at some point during the day, even if they just well up in my eyes for a minute or two, but I will feel better that we are doing something positive he would have liked and celebrating the day he came into our lives and into this world.
Peter W. took this photo of me and Leif at a temple somewhere in Japan in the fall of 1980 when Leif was five-and-a-half years old. I don't know where it was and there's no notation on the photo. He was so darling at that age.