Tomorrow would have been...should be...A's 60th birthday. He's missed 5 birthdays now. He only got to be 55 for a few months before he passed, though we (and by "we," I probably mean "I") had great fun teasing him about his official senior citizenship. Now that he was 55, we were going to enjoy that nice 5% discount at Jack in the Box when next I visited, among who knows what other untold discounts he might be eligible for. We were going to be on high times, me and my senior discount sugardaddy.
I never got to take advantage of that, though, because my next visit was scheduled for 2 weeks after he died.
Yes, I still feel cheated.
While I'm always a little sad around his birthday, this one has loomed in my mind for a few weeks now. I think it may be because it's a milestone birthday. 60. While I felt like 55 was still firmly in middle age, even if it was at the tail end of it, 60, to my mind, seems to be the gateway to actually being old. It's at the youngest end of old, but it's old nonetheless, and it's kind of a big deal. I would like to be giving him crap about that now; when we addressed our age difference at all, it was mostly to tease each other about our age and youth, respectively, although he tended to comment on how old I was. He would've had a field day when I hit 40 this fall. And I would've reminded him he was still a helluva lot older than I, and a grandpa, and then there was the matter of his bifocals. Game, set, and match to moi.
Only he's not as much older than I as he used to be. The gap has narrowed, from 20 to 15 years now, and it will only get smaller. I may well surpass him, albeit later than a lot of my other young widowed friends and acquaintances who have already dealt with that personal milestone. And I don't like this. All these markers of time passing just remind me of what I'm (still) missing, what he's missing, what isn't happening.
I have been particularly annoyed by these new American Cancer Society "Happy Birthday" commercials, where they style themselves the "proud sponsors of more birthdays." A didn't die from cancer, and I certainly don't begrudge anyone more birthdays if they can manage them. It's just that someone I love isn't having anymore birthdays, and that fact is especially front-and-center for me at the moment, and dammit, I just don't need Celine Dion (who is oddly creepy to me, anyway) reminding me of what I don't have. It's a little of that early grief tenderness and self-focus on the emotional side, even if I know better on the intellectual side. I KNOW the American Cancer Society isn't doing anything on purpose with the intention of hurting me. However, as far as I'm concerned, they and the statin commercials can do me a favor and go far away from my TV set.
I'm not even that upset...it's just this heavy, poignant awareness that, shit, he's still dead. I'm still at it without him. I still miss him. Situation normal...for whatever that's worth.
It occurs to me that, had he not died when he did, his heart disease might've gone undiagnosed throughout these 5 years, and he could've had that fatal heart attack anytime. I could've lost him any minute; there is no guarantee I would've had these 5 years; clearly, the odds were against it. And though it wouldn't have saved me one minute of widow pain to have one more year, one more week, one more day, one more hour with him before he died, I still wish I'd had it. It'd never be enough, but it'd be more. And while I'm almost certain that being able to let go of that impossible desire for more of him is what could end this ache in my heart, this longing for what can't be, I don't have the first notion of how I would do that, or what it would cost me if I did.