Here's the break down of this subject: For the rest of my life I will be celebrating the fact that I am still alive on the very same day that I am remembering the awful day of her death.
Every year it will be one more year of life for me, one more year dead for her.
Could there be a clearer recipe for survivor guilt than this?
How do I even begin to process this? I don't have the foggiest idea.
I have been given many suggestions: Have a low-key celebration. Have a huge celebration. Don't celebrate. You should make the most of it and have fun anyway. You will probably not have a very good day. Just try not to think about it. Do what she would want you to do. You can't let that ruin your birthday.
I am having a milestone birthday this year, I'll turn 40.
How do I do this?
I am more grateful than I can express that I am alive, that I get to turn 40. I am healthy. I get to continue to raise my kids. There seem to be no signs that point to me having anything other than a long life. I want to honor the gift that is my life. I want as many opportunities as possible to celebrate all that I have, and feel all the joy that being alive for another year has brought me.
She will be gone a year that day. That day looms ahead of me as a reminder of all I have lost. It represents so much pain. The day holds the pain of her kids and husband, my mother and sister and kids. Her friends, her cousins, her aunts and uncles will all remember that day as an excruciating sucker-punch from hell.
If I could call her and we could discuss it, it would most likely degenerate into a laugh-fest of horrible suggestions like, "I could have a coffin-shaped cake made with a little cake person inside with a thought bubble saying happy birth/death day to us!" or, "Too bad they don't make cards that say Happy Birthday! Sorry your sister is dead! But have a great day! Even though it will be awful!"
I'm working on this. I might be working on this for a long time. I need to be able to find joy in the celebration of my life while also honoring hers.
I can do this.