Yesterday was Sam's birthday. He would have been 14. It would have been very easy to dwell on all the things that he is missing, all the things he was yet to achieve, but we did actually manage to have an OK day.
Thursday night was probably the hardest, when I started to think about the day I had Sam, and all those things I mentioned above. I had a little cry and felt better. Last week I talked about how I'd heard that the week leading up to the birthday is harder than the day, and I think that's true. I'm very glad we went away, because I would have been cranky and emotional. That's not a bad thing I guess, in small doses, but if we hadn't escaped to the beach, I don't think I would have liked myself very much.
On a side note, thinking about the beach, I mentioned to Anthony that I always feel like I'm going home when I go to the coast (he said I probably grew up there in a previous life). I've felt that much more strongly the last couple of times. I think I mentioned in an early post that my first instinct when Sam died was to pack up and run. That feeling faded a bit, but I can't shake the feeling that I should be somewhere else. I love my house, but more and more lately I'm feeling like I won't live here much longer. I really wish I could move to the coast. There are practical reasons that we can't of course (hard to get teaching work there), but I feel like I really need to work towards it. I think I would actually give up teaching if it meant I could live down there. I know they say that you shouldn't make big decisions for at least a year after this kind of traumatic event, and I won't, but more and more I feel like I'm in the wrong place, and if losing Sam has taught me anything, it's that time is precious (something to mull over for another time
What do you do on a day like this?
The first thing I did when I woke up yesterday was post to Facebook. Sounds weird I know, but it's only because I can do that without getting out of bed (I love my iPhone!). I put a happy birthday message up there for Sam. Then I actually did get out of bed and went and said happy birthday to him (well, to his ashes). I know some people hate Facebook or think it's a waste of time, but I do love that you can share things with people on your on time, on your terms. We got lots of lovely messages on there, from people who we just wouldn't be able to see, and that was really nice. As were the text messages that I got from some lovely, thoughtful friends.
Our usual birthday routine is (was) a lot like what I used to do with my parents. We'd all sit on our bed and give the presents to whoever was having the birthday. Possibly a little cheesy, but nice. Then we'd go to work/school (or somewhere exciting if it was the weekend/holiday) and have dinner somewhere nice in the evening. There was usually cake and then a 'family' celebration on the weekend closest to the day. Lots of food, cake etc.
I spent the morning painting the wall. We put in a new window in the lounge room just before we went away, and I was making it look all pretty. We wanted to test a colour for that wall, as when Anthony builds me my new kitchen (YAY! Can't wait!), we are also going to redecorate our long neglected lounge/dining area. The wall looks quite nice now. It's certainly given us a jump start, got us excited about renovating again.
I'm not really sure why I chose this to do, but it was good. It kept me busy and I wanted it to be done before anyone came over.
The boys and I then went to Bunnings and, after a fair bit of dithering, chose some blinds for the window. Anthony has one up so far, and they look great!
We went out for lunch with my parent and Jezz, at La Porchetta. Not Samuel's all time favourite, but there's no Sizzler in Canberra any more. He liked La Porky's too; we'd had a few birthday dinners there and he, Olllie and I had a nice dinner there when we went to Melbourne together a few years ago. It was a nice lunch, good food, good conversation, a little bit of missing Sam, but not too bad.
Then I went grocery shopping. I had intended to do it the night before but was feeling too low. In hindsight it probably would have been better to do it then because I wouldn't have been rushing it (it's funny how many unnecessary items you buy when you're rushing - a very expensive exercise!), because I raced in at almost 3, and not long after that people started turning up. Actually, when I turned the corner in the car I said to myself 'please don't let anyone be there yet', but there were two cars in the driveway. Luckily it was Dallas and Sally, mine and Anthony's best friends. And they're more like family anyway, so I didn't feel as bad that I was running late. But it did mean that I was running to catch up and the house wasn't quite the way I wanted it, but it didn't matter in the end. And it's not really that unusual. While I'm fairly organised with food when we're entertaining, I'm almost never on time.
When we asked people to come around and help us celebrate Sam's birthday, we weren't really sure what we would do or who would turn up. I must say I was surprised when at 3:15pm about 12 of Samuel's friends from school turned up. It was so great to see them. I gave them coke and chips and sent them into Sam's room, and they seemed to be OK. It was really great to see them and talk to them. What a great bunch of kids they are, but then again we didn't expect anything less from Sam, he wasn't really the type to hang out with idiots.
Samuel's closest friends Jake, Ryan, Patrick and Harry all came over, and we also caught up with their parents. That was great. It's always nice to hear stories about Sam from other people. Patrick's dad Bob brought around some great photos of the boys (they have been friends since Samuel was 3. Actually, Jake and Ryan have been Sam's friends since then too). Ryan was able to solve the mystery of something we had found in Sam's room (and had no idea where it came from) and show us some text messages. It was really nice to talk to Ryan, who has always been a bit shy around us.
The McLauchlan clan were around too. It was very nice to see everyone together (and get to hold baby Ashaan, only 3 weeks old), and we even talked to Tim and Rach (Anthony's brother and his partner, who live in Queensland) on the phone. They bought us some board games (naughty of them, but a nice gesture) and promised to come and play them with us. We used to have lots of games nights: Risk, Settlers of Catan, even Monopoly or poker sometimes, but hadn't done that a lot lately. That will have to change I think. We all played Uno occasionally, and the boys played a few games together, but we haven't had a good games night for a few years.
We ate a lot, as we generally do at those sort of things. We had most of Sam's favourite foods going: fairy bread, chocolate, sweet chilly philly, twisties etc, and Aunty Sue made a lime cheesecake that we enjoyed immensely (Sam loved Sue's cheesecakes), along with mouthfuls of whipped cream pumped straight from the can (another of Sam's loves).
We didn't sing happy birthday or blow out candles, but we did say happy birthday and shared funny memories of Sam, and talked until late at night (Ok, 11pm, but that's late for me!)
All in all, a nice day. Only one thing would have made it better, and that thing's not going to happen. But in the absence of my beautiful Sam, I couldn't have asked for a better day. It's always going to be hard celebrating the birthday of someone who's not with us, but I'm so glad people acknowledged it.