It rhymes. Handy, that. It helped me remember Samantha's age as well as her birthday. It's amazing what personal data of hers is still floating around in my head. I can still recite her driver's license and Social Security number, which seems weird to me now. Maybe it's because I had over 20 years to learn it, and she's only been gone for 4.
Sam's birthday has come and gone four times since she took her last breath in 2005. Each time, the kids and I have observed it, celebrated it. We go out to dinner, and we get a cake and put number candles for her would-be age on top. We celebrate a life ended far too prematurely.
I can't speak for my kids, but this year is different for me. Not because she would have been 42. This year, there is someone else in the picture. A partner. A fiancée. A mom-to-be. And it's got me in a weird place.
Let me be perfectly clear: this is all my own neurosis, my own baggage. Raechelle is totally supportive of celebrating Sam's birthday with the kids and me. She suggested continuing the ritual as per usual, with no deviation simply because she was now present. She completely understands missing someone I was with for over half my life, and although I do not put my relationship with Sam on a pedestal, reason dictates there will be days when the loss will be felt more acutely. The woman's birthday is one of those days.
As I said, any guilt I feel for being happily in a relationship on the birthday of my late wife is of my own manufacture. And I'm really working on making it go away. And Raechelle, bless her, is incredibly helpful by lavishing her love upon me and reminding me that Sam would want me to be happy. And she's right. I am fulfilling Samantha's last directive by finding a loving partner and remarrying -- for myself and for the children. And I'm very much in love and full of all kinds of hope for the future.
On the surface, it's a no-brainer. I'm incredibly happy and satisfied in my relationship with Raechelle. I can intellectualize it until the cows come home. But there's a hint of sadness and weirdness in my gut today. Understandably so, I think.
Perhaps it's just another milestone.
One of the last firsts.
And I know Raechelle gets that.
Slàinte, Sam, wherever you are. Happy Birthday.