Today is the birthday of our nephew who died suddenly four years ago at age three. Each year we take a trip to the beach with Hubs’s family and it seems to always overlap his birthday. It’s really quite fitting because this beach is the place I spent the most time with him and the place I last saw him. And he LOVED the beach!
He really loved everything natural, though, especially animals. On a trip with my family to Minnesota, we saw two bald eagles and a black bear, and I felt him in the spirit of those animals. Last year on his birthday, we blew bubbles and sang on the beach and a pod of dolphins came and swam in the waves right offshore. My sister-in-law (his momma) snorkled in Hawaii last year and right before they got out of the water, four sea turtles swam right up to them, surely a hello from our sweet buddy.
Our Mexican neighbors celebrate Día de los Muertos each year in early November, where families and friends gather to pray for and remember deceased loved ones. A few days of eating, drinking, crying, laughing, and celebrating seems wonderfully cathartic and profoundly helpful. I think there is a stigma in the United States against remembering family members and friends who have passed away, which feels unhealthy to me. Some people demonstrate obvious discomfort when someone mentions our nephew. While I know their reactions have nothing to do with me, I want to help them understand. By talking and remembering, we’re not wallowing in our grief. After plenty of counseling and time passing, grief is only a tee-tiny part of what I think of when I think of him. No, by talking and remembering, we’re celebrating all the awesome things about his life.
So happy birthday, sweet darling boy! “Awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters.” (C.S. Lewis)