Yesterday C.J. would have been 20! Crazy to think that he would already be that old. Even crazier to think that he’s been gone for 20 months.
It was a great day though. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a few breakdowns on my own. Once on the way home from church as I was thinking of all the things I needed to do as I drove to pick up balloons. The second time, late last night after everyone had left. I was sweeping the floor and cleaning up after his party, and Andrew was playing the piano. The last song he played was, “Happy Birthday”… I lost it.
Some people probably think I’m a lunatic for having a birthday party for my dead brother. But I can’t help it. We did it last year, too. It was awkward to explain to the lady who blew up 20 yellow balloons for me that they were for my brother when she asked Elizabeth if we were going to have a happy birthday party for her uncle. I replied with, “yes” of course… but I also commented that it wasn’t necessarily a happy birthday since he’s been gone for the past two. I guess I shouldn’t have said anything at all, but I too often speak before I think.
My perspective is a lot different than most peoples, I guess. You see, I’d rather celebrate the 18 years and 3 months we had with him than mourn the whole day. I’d rather be surrounded by his closest friends that remind me so much of him and allow me to feel him even closer than to miss him for another second.
I say all of that to say that it was a great day. Several of his friends came and a lot of our family came. It was just your average summer cookout. Simple and plain, yet oh so special, just like C.J. And there were firecrackers. Lotsandlots of firecrackers. In true C.J. fashion, the boys spent the evening blowing stuff up (what is it with boys and fire?) and stuffing their faces. For a few minutes, among all the loud booms and seemingly loud boys, I actually quit missing him.
We ended the evening with icecream cake and hugs. There’s nothing that makes me feel him more than a tight hug from his friends. That may sound crazy (as I’m sure this whole post does), but something about his friends, that are close in size and age to him, hugging me makes me feel him.
Apparently, Elizabeth could feel him too. She hasn’t been around his friends very often, and regretfully never met C.J., but she was allover his friends last night. She doesn’t snuggle with me the way she snuggled with them. She climbed right into their laps several times.
It was a great day.
Happy 20th Birthday, Clifford James. I love you more than I ever told you. And I miss you more than you could ever know. I can hardly wait to see you again some sweet day.