Tomorrow is Michaela’s birthday. I have struggled mightily with what to do with this day since she has been gone. For some years, I had a group of friends who came to my house, and we would sit in a circle and remember Michaela. But time and tides ended that practice. For years after that we would have a family remembrance, with a birthday cake. Then one day I went to pick up a birthday cake and I just could not do it. The thought eating that beautiful gooey sweetness while Michaela was not here, while she might be out there suffering, became anathema to me. And since then I have honored Michaela’s birthday primarily with blogs and posts and letters.
Amazingly enough, this year Michaela’s birthday is easier. If you read my last blog, you will know that as I have leaned into this new reality of Michaela being the victim of a serial killer, I have for the first time in 32 years allowed myself to feel Michaela’s presence in my life. Just yesterday, when I was driving home from a medical appointment an hour away, I had tears running down my face and occasionally broke out in sobs. Then I felt Michaela there, in the car with me. I felt her wrap her arms around my neck, and rest her head against my shoulder, like a small child, but offering comfort instead of receiving it.
I don’t have to worry anymore. I don’t have to be concerned that Michaela is alive somewhere right now, that she is suffering right now, that she needs help right now. Instead, I know that although her suffering was intense, it was short lived, a blip in her eternity. She has spent more in the next world than she did in this one. Instead of me worrying about her, I know instead she is worrying about me.
My youngest daughter is also in a relationship with someone whose birthday happens to fall on the same day as Michaela’s! So there will be cake tomorrow, and I will eat it, and I will feel Michaela, and I will know that as difficult as life seems, as much pain as I hold in my heart, ultimately everything will be okay. Sometimes, in fact, you have to experience the worst things in order to get to the best things. You can’t get to heaven without passing through the valley of the shadow of death. Michaela has become my comfort on my journey.
So, happy birthday, Michaela. On this day 42 years ago, you came into my life and transformed me. You continue to transform me still.
I love you forever,