Today I’m thinking about ‘firsts.’ Some things that fall into that category are good. Like the first time you ride your bike without training wheels or a helping hand. The first day of school, following the summer vacation you couldn’t wait for in January, but that got kind of boring after the first month.
That first date, when you can’t tell if you’re more thrilled or nervous because you’re afraid you just might throw up. That first driving lesson because it means you’re growing up. That first paycheck. On one hand you can’t wait to cash it and spend every hard earned cent. On the other, you kind of want to frame it because you’re so proud of it.
And then you have kids. The first time you hold that baby in your arms. Nothing will ever be as special no matter how long you live. Until the grandkids come around anyway. You’ll never forget seeing that first smile or the first wobbly step. The expression on their face the first time they see a snowfall or a puppy. The first time they shout, “I hate you!” but come and give you a hug a few minutes later because they’re sorry.
When she was about three years old. A while ago.
Some firsts aren’t quite as nice. Losing that first tooth-or having it yanked out by a dentist. Breaking a leg or spraining an ankle. Having your cat leave a hairball mess for you on the floor (never, ever gets better). Having a flat tire on a dirt road in the country in the middle of the night…with no cell phone or strong guy around to change it for you (voice of experience here!).
Some are really bad. Losing family members ranks right up there near the top, but we’re not quite there yet. Grandparents, parents, a spouse, other relatives. Divorces and losing your job fit into this category, too. Nowhere near as traumatic, but very painful anyway.
And then there’s the worst kind of all. Losing a child.
My other daughter died this past December, following complications from surgery. And I’m discovering all kinds of firsts. First Christmas without her. First new year that I’ve only had two kids instead of three since before my youngest was born. My first Mother’s Day with only two.
And today. Today is her birthday, and it’s been a little tougher to handle than I thought it would be. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it completely sucks. I’ve spent every minute since waking up this morning going from tearful, to depressed, to angry, to doing everything in my power to think of anything but that. Mostly I’ve succeeded at it, but not as much as I’d have liked to.
It’s a first I’ll be glad to put behind me. But somehow, I think that seconds, thirds, etc… aren’t going to be a whole lot easier. It’s just one of those parts of life that you wish you hadn’t got to experience firsthand.
Happy Birthday, Kerry.