I began planning the blood drive, while also completely avoiding thinking about my birthday. When well meaning friends would offer up a suggestion of how I could spend my birthday I would either 1. Cry, or 2. Change the subject. It took me weeks to stop obsessing over it. Once my birthday was about two days away, I finally came up with a plan.
My husband, Frank, took the day off from work to spend with me. I knew that I wanted to go for a walk and out to breakfast. When the day came, I decided I didn't want to go for a walk, I just wanted to go out for breakfast. And so began me just sort of taking the day minute by minute. We came home and I decided to spend a few hours watching trashy TV on the couch. We went to the Halloween parade at our little boys' school. I baked cookies for the blood drive. I took a breath, then another, then another, until finally the day was over.
I was so relieved when the day was over.
It's so hard not to relive the day she died over and over as my birthday progresses. It's hard not to think, "At this point of that day, we were driving to the funeral home to make the arrangements." or "At this time, we were telling the kids their mom was gone."
It was the worst day of my life. And I don't know how to handle it yet. So I just go through the motions and white-knuckle it until my birthday is over. Honestly, I kind of hate having a birthday now.
But! The next day was the blood drive. I was busy all day with preparations, then running the drive, then cleaning up. I got to see so many wonderful and kind people. So many people care enough to either come to donate, or come to visit during the drive. I feel so purposeful during the blood drive. I feel like maybe some good has come out of Sue's death.
We collected 35 pints of blood, saving up to 105 lives (and as I know from Sue's situation, we could also be prolonging the life of many people's sisters--this is my favorite thought as I watch the blood bags fill up). We had 4 first-time donors, and we collected $225 for a donation to the Red Cross in Sue's name (raised by a silent auction of my mom's quilts).
I made it. I lived through another birthday/anniversary of Sue's death. I ran another successful blood drive in her memory.
This is starting to feel like something I can conquer, year after year.
|Sue, meeting my youngest for the first time, 2009|