I've had a birthday this week.
My birthday has long been a bittersweet day. My first husband's mother died suddenly and unexpectedly on my 24th birthday, nine months before we got married. He rang me just as I was getting up, and I knew as soon as he spoke that something was wrong. That was the first death close to me.
Roll on a couple of decades, and Tim and I married on my birthday. Everyone sang happy birthday to me at the reception. It seemed like a lovely thing to do at the time. But after Tim died, this left me with two milestones on one day. A birthday in September is associated with a change of the seasons, and I think my brain and body subconsciously mark the approach of the date with the smells, sounds, temperature and day length of oncoming autumn, even before I realise that the date is approaching.
My birthday rolls into the milestones. Tim's birthday in December. Christmas, which was often a time just for the two of us. New Year, where we saw the people we've partied with since our early twenties. And then his death date, 24 February. And so, I find this time of year tough, and often have to surf a wave of depression around now. Which means I need to try to take my own advice. I'm going to be kind to myself. Sit through the grief attacks. And know that the depression wave will lift.
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I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.