[This is pretty long, and it’s really personal. If you’re not into that in an SL blog, then you can stop reading right now.]
I was born the day before my oldest sister. My parents always said that she got a baby sister for her 15th birthday. I’m sure her 15th was all but forgotten that year, but she never seemed to care. For all of our lives, we celebrated our birthdays together, with mine usually being the main attraction. It wasn’t that I was the favorite, it’s just that I was the youngest of three, the family’s “angel.” To this day, my aunts believe that if I pray for them, it’s from my lips to God’s ear. My aunt had pneumonia a couple of weeks ago and swears that it’s because of my prayers that she recovered. You know how family can be.
Anyway, for as long as I could remember, my sister and I celebrated together. Birthday cakes usually had both our names on it. Sometimes we even received matching gifts when we got older. It was just the way it was. She was more of a mother to me than a sister, and I fought with her like I would have fought with my mom, if my mom wasn’t 5’1 of Latin fury.
In 1999, 4 months and 3 days after her 36th birthday, my sister died. It was a surprise. We’d had no time to plan for it. We didn’t know there was anything wrong. She had not been close to the family in a while, and had been living with friends after fighting with my mom for the 97,000th time in her life. I had talked to her just that day, and attempted to see her, although she would not open the door for me. I thought she had a cold. She’d asked me to bring her some Gatoraide. I had kind of been mad about it. I was working at the time, and finishing up a semester of college. I had a new boyfriend. You know how it is when you’re 22. I was young and spoiled. I had lived through many things, thought I knew it all. Nothing prepared me for someone coming to tell us she was gone. To this day, I still remember the knock on the door, and how my mom and I had been laughing over ‘Father of the Bride’ just a few minutes before. You never know what’s going to change your life. For me, it was that knock on the door.
I changed that day, as anyone would. I became the rock of the family. The caretaker. I blamed myself. I fought with God. I became anxious, scared, exhausted constantly from not sleeping. I worked 12 hour shifts. I went back to school and promptly started cutting classes. I cut my hair short, I got contacts. I cried a lot when no one could see me. I became terrified of death. At one point, months after she had died, my mom looked at me and said, “I’m waiting for you to break down.”
The break down didn’t come until about 8 years later. It was a slow decline into it, but when it came, it came at probably the worst possible time. But, that’s something that I had to work through.
So about 5 years after her death, I started wanting to possibly, maybe, get back to a more normalish life. It’s impossible, of course, once you have lost someone you loved that much to do it, but I wanted to try. The one thing that really started to get to me was the birthday thing. My birthday had become “The Day Before Her Birthday.” There was no celebrating like there once was. Oh, my boyfriend and my best friend always made sure to try to do something, but what I wanted was for my parents to acknowledge it again. I wanted them to remember that it was my birthday too. I had given a lot of things up for them. I had done a lot of things for them.
In short? I was being kind of selfish. But I’ve always been of the belief that everyone can be a little selfish on their birthday. It’s the one day out of the year that is for YOU. It’s all yours, the one day where you are celebrated because you are special and alive and here.
My birthday wasn’t like that anymore. I put up with the November depression every year. I had put up with my mom no longer wanting to celebrate Thanksgiving, or Christmas. I had put up with my other sister basically leaving the family. I didn’t think that I should have to give up MY day.
So, very quietly, I picked another day. I picked it for me. A day where I could celebrate myself. I could do something nice for me, I could eat anything I wanted, I could have fun and not feel bad about it. I chose the 4th. It seemed like a nice day, and no one else in our family had it. It was MY day. I didn’t tell anyone else about it and I was happy. I AM happy with it. I’m perfectly happy now to celebrate the 4th as my birthday in Second Life as well. No one in my physical world has made the kind of celebration that my SL friends have made over my birthday in a long long time. It makes me feel special, and the memories wrap me in warmth when the November depression comes again.
I expect this year will be different. My parents are doing well, and my mom has already talked about cake on my birthday. My RLBF, bestie, and her husband have already made plans to take me out a couple of days before my birthday. It feels like August is really my month, and I love it. I am so much happier right now than I have been in a long time. Having 2 birthdays might not make a lot of sense to some people, but hopefully now that I’ve explained, it makes sense as to why it’s the best plan for me.