I turn 27 this week. And it’s been a tough one.

For me, birthdays have always been something to celebrate, not dread. I love celebrating my own birthday and the birthdays of those I love, because it is a way of celebrating them–their lives, their accomplishments, their passions, just simply who they are. A way of acknowledging my own life, my accomplishments, my day-to-day living that I rarely take the time to do.

When I was growing up, before the big birthday dinner, my family would all go around the table and thank God for something about the birthday person. It was a beautiful way to celebrate the things we love about each other, and to thank God for giving us each other. It’s a tradition I hope to continue with my own children someday.

But this birthday…it just isn’t so celebratory. I’m trying to be happy, and I am, or at least part of me is. My mom is coming to town, which is wonderful because I haven’t seen her in seven months–and visits from family are always something to celebrate, especially as they become more rare. So there will be plenty of laughter and good conversation to be had, I am sure.

But is something more sobering that permeates this birthday.

Michael was 27 when we lost him last fall. Had just turned 27. We were celebrating. His birthday. His life. His self. Him.

I was never supposed to be older than my brother-in-law. Never. And now, I will be. Because I will turn 27 and live through it. He didn’t. It’s sobering and hard and sad. I’m amazed at how piercing our loss is, and I wonder when the ache will ease.

Maybe next year’s birthday won’t be so difficult. When it’s been longer. When the number is 28, not 27.

Sunset at Northwest River Park

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