I was at the grocery store today with Isaac doing the week’s shopping. In anticipation of Gianna’s birthday this week, we bought cake mix, ice cream and a (kind of tacky) princess balloon for her grave that Isaac picked out. (I wanted to get her some tulips, but figured they would still freeze at night. Flowers will have to wait for summer.)
Peter’s first birthday fell on our first night of grad school, and the day itself, which I expected to be some sort of deep, reflective moment, turned out to be a long string of hectic errands. And by then, I was already pregnant with Gianna. I kind of had the idea that it was okay that God took Peter, because now we were getting another chance. We face Gianna’s birthday with no idea of what is ahead for us on any front. Plus, I just miss her. I was so looking forward to celebrating with her here. So, without her I don’t much feel like celebrating.
So, why go through the pretense of celebrating? Why make a cake and invite people over to eat it? The grief books would seem to say, “do whatever makes you feel good” on anniversaries. If you want to lock yourself in your room and cry all day, do it. Well, I’m sure I’ll cry, but I also feel compelled to celebrate. One reason is Isaac. Cake is what you do for birthdays, and Gianna is his sister and it is her birthday. But more than that, I have been reflecting on what a birthday is and means. So, I really hoped Gianna would be born healthy and live a long happy life. But she didn’t. She got sick and died. Does this mean that we should not celebrate her? Does she not deserve to be honored just like the rest of our family on account of the fact that I might cry in front of our closest friends? Are we to celebrate only those things which make us feel good?
We said from the very moment we thought we might be pregnant that we were grateful for Gianna’s existence. She is not here with us to get covered in icing for the obligatory photo op. But she exists, and will for eternity. If we had let our fear rule us, she would not. I have to believe that from where she sits now in heaven, Gianna is certainly glad for this fact. I’m sure she would be chowing down on cake if she had her glorified body back to eat it! So to celebrate this occasion makes sense. Even if it hurts like hell.