January 7th was Matthew’s birthday. He would have turned 38. The anticipation I felt leading up to the day was just like ocean waves. Sometimes my emotions would hit me hard and take my breath away and other times they were small and I was able to feel the emotion retract as quickly as it came in. Since before moving back to the States, I lived in Sydney, as you all know, with that brings double celebrations since they are a day ahead of us. So on the 6th I received many messages and Facebook posts wishing him a “Happy Birthday.”
The pain I felt that day was paralysing at times. But in those moments I felt love. So many people took the time to reach out and let Matt know, wherever he is, they were thinking about him and they missed him. It is my biggest hope that Matt’s name, the type of man he was, is never forgotten. It lifts me up to see and hear how his friends keep him in their hearts. I obviously know where I stand every day when I wake up in terms of my love for Matt, but sometimes I wonder how other people are carrying him along with them. I don’t need our friends and family to constantly validate their feelings with me in order for me to continue my progress forward; but to know he is not being forgotten creates warmth around my heart.
So anyway, back to Matt’s birthday. Since we were use to celebrating his birthday in the summer time in Australia, it was a change of pace this year. It happened to be one of the coldest days in Georgia thus far, so being outdoors was a challenge. Nature or exploring was a favourite tradition we use to have. Often times we would get “lost” seeking out new neighbourhoods to admire or finding out where a windy road would take us. As much as I was hoping to get lost some where, it was not in the cards. So instead the kids and I sought out to do some of his favourite things.
It started in the morning. My mom and I packed the kids in the car and drove out to a new little coffee shop that I was told makes coffee much like what we had in Australia. I ordered his usual cappuccino and tried to enjoy some what of a peaceful moment taking in the weathered hardwood floors and hipster vibe the place had going. After the kids had lost their patience trying to sit calmly, I know wishful thinking for a 2 and almost 4-year-old, we headed to a party store to buy 7 blue balloons. Seeing as we were already out and about and had hours to kill before the kids took a nap, we ventured over to the mall. If you know my husband the day wouldn’t be complete without a bit of shopping and well I took one for the team and bought new boots (or maybe 2 pairs of new boots). I know he would approve.
On the drive back to the house, we made one last stop at Baskin Robbins. Side note, Baskin Robbins are hard to come by in Australia but we knew of two. Almost every year Matt would talk about getting an ice cream cake because they were his favourite and so finally one year we accomplished that dream. Ordering this cake in Oz was harder than one would expect. Once the person taking the order finally understood what we were ordering we drove about 30 minutes to get it. Well it turns out, sorry to say this Australia, but your mint chocolate chip is not quite up to par. So Matt was left disappointed. But I digress..
I ran inside Baskin Robbins and immediately saw 3 cakes and one of them was mint chocolate chip and as an extra kicker, it had blue frosting. I grabbed the cake and headed home. So now on to the balloons. When we arrived home I asked Kaden what he would like to tell Daddy if he could send him a message. Immediately he responded with, “I love you Daddy and I miss you.” So with a sharpie I wrote every message we came up with on the balloons. Once the balloons were covered in our loving words we went outside. I had the kids take the balloons and release them up into the sky to let the wind carry them on to their Daddy.
**We released blue balloons as well at Matthew’s celebration of life in Australia, so it was very symbolic.
Fast forward to the evening…
One last event I had planned was to go out to dinner at a lovely Mexican restaurant. But before I left for dinner, I took the cake out and lit 7 candles, Scarlett then proceeded to blow out the candles right before we could sing. So my mom light the candles again and we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Matt. Then my mom and I were off to dinner. At the end of the dinner I had a celebratory glass of Clase Azul tequila in Matthew’s honour.
Overall, despite the rough moments the day before his birthday, I felt as if it prepared me for his actual birthday. Having a day all about Matt and what he enjoyed helped keep me focused and allowed me time to devote completely towards him. I have yet another “first” I can cross off my list and another day I can truly look at myself in the mirror and say, “I survived” as a smile parts my lips. You are loved Matthew.