Unexpected Birthday Shock.

I’ve always been the one to over celebrate every holiday, especially birthdays, my birthday was always my favorite day of the year. I guess you could only imagine, waking up on your birthday to your mom in shambles. I don’t think I had ever seen my mother cry before, so I didn’t really know how to comfort her. I had no clue what was going on, and I had no idea how to ask. I was the only other person in the house awake at the time (maybe around 7 am). I just knew it was something serious, I knew it was something that I didn’t want to hear.

My mom had just got off the phone with her parents. Her younger brother had just suffered a massive heart attack. As expected, he had to be transported to a hospital that could actually save his life (he was in a small town at the time). Unfortunately, it was too late. In a matter of what felt like minutes, he was gone.

I grew up in a pretty tight family. My mom’s 4 siblings have always been a huge part of my life. I have 8 cousins (last I counted), that were my best friends growing up. We have been lucky, we hadn’t really experienced losing a family member this close before.

It was my 14th birthday and everyone was mourning. Nobody really knew how to react. We didn’t know what to do, or say, it was really awkward. I actually wanted to change my plans to another day, but my mom didn’t want me to. She didn’t want my day to be ruined. My sister and my godmother made sure I could at least enjoy part of my birthday. It was pretty chaotic, obviously nobody was prepared for this.

We tried to make the best of it, but it wasn’t easy. My birthday party was becoming a vigil. One room was filled with rambunctious teenagers, and the next room was filled with a ton of grieving adults. It was confusing. It was traumatizing. As much as I wanted everything to be about me, it wasn’t. I knew that my birthday would never be the same. My birthday would never be a “happy” day because it was the day we lost a piece of the family.

I had avoided thinking or even talking about my uncle. I had remorse, and yet for some reason, I felt guilty. December 5th wasn’t about me anymore. I was selfish, I was wrong. I just couldn’t accept the fact that we lost him on that day. I felt like nobody would even want to celebrate my birthday anymore because my family would be grieving.

For the first couple of birthdays after his death, I felt like everyone was constantly reminding people that he died on my birthday. I know it wasn’t to intentionally bring me down, but it did. I just didn’t know how I was supposed to feel. I was inconsiderate, I didn’t really think about how his death affected other people (my grandparents, my cousins). I only really cared about how it made me feel like I couldn’t celebrate anymore.

I knew his death was not my fault (obviously). It took a few years to actually enjoy my birthday. Once I learned how to balance (celebrating both of our lives), it was easier. Every year on December 5th, I always take a moment to appreciate the time that my family did have with my uncle. I know I am thankful for him. As I get older, I become more selfless. Over the years, I began to learn what was important in life. Family, love, and celebration mean so much to me. Losing my uncle was hard on ALL of us, and I wish I realized that sooner. Every year that I avoided thinking of him, was regretful. I was an insensitive teenager, what do you expect?

Now that I am 20 years old, I’m starting a new tradition on my birthday. Every year, I will listen to the music that reminds me the most of him. The music that brings nothing but positive memories. From Alicia Keys- No one, to Trick Daddy- I’m a thug. He was amazing, and I am so lucky that he was a part of my life. He will forever be in my heart. I look at my birthday now as just another reason to celebrate, celebrate the life of my Uncle June.

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