My Grandpa Tom and I share the same birthday, July 6th. Growing up we would often celebrate our birthday together, and while not everyone would like to share their birthday with someone else, for me it only made it more special. It felt like we were the only two members of a very exclusive club, one that no one else in my family could be in, no matter how hard they tried.
Every year on my birthday, my Grandpa would take me out shopping and then we would go to lunch. I would look forward to this day all year, when I got to spend time with him all by myself. He would let me pick where we went for lunch and I would always choose Marie Callender’s and order the chicken strips. Then we would share a piece of pie and say “Happy Birthday!” to each other and chuckle a little when we did so.
When he passed away, 3 months before my wedding, I felt like a piece of my world had caved in. He was such an important person in my life, there for so many major life events. I learned how to ride my bike out at his ranch, he would carve the turkey at every holiday dinner, he was my birthday buddy, he was there when I first got my ears pierced, and he was one of the people most proud of me when I graduated from college, having himself dropped out of school after the 5th grade.
After he died, everyone told me that he was still here with me in spirit, something that I have no doubt told others when they were grieving for a lost loved one. I remember feeling so angry one day because I couldn’t feel him anywhere, no matter how hard I tried. He was gone and everyone was full of shit. I couldn’t feel him, I couldn’t see him in the clouds or the wind, there was no magical sign that he was watching over me.
Last weekend my Mom threw me a baby shower in my hometown with my friends and family. When it came time to open the presents, my Step Grandma told me that there was a story about one of her gifts that made it very special. I opened the box and found 2 cute baby onesies and a book. The onesies had little animals on the butt, very cute, but nothing out of the ordinary about them. Then I noticed another small lump in the tissue paper, it was a little stuffed bear.
She told me that my Grandpa had bought this bear for me before he had passed away. He bought it for my future baby, his great grandchild, and for the last 3 years my Step Grandma held on to it for me. I think I may be the only person who has broken out into sobs at her own baby shower, but at that moment I was completely overwhelmed with a fresh wave of sadness mixed with joy. Sad because my Grandpa who I loved so dearly will never meet his great-grandson, whose middle name is for him, but so happy because at that moment I felt that he was there with me, reminding me that no matter where he is, he will always love me.