Happy Birthday

The funny thing is, I can picture Terry at 47. I think he would have looked pretty much the same, but just a little rough around the edges, like me, not the sparkling young things we were then. He was a gorgeous man. Oh, that smile.

Astrologically, Dr Lennox warned that during this Venus retrograde a past love may re-enter our lives to teach us something. I don’t think anyone else is going to pop out of the woodwork…a crazy fling or two whose names escape me now…maybe my boyfriend from year three who dumped me because his brother said I looked like a monkey?

Maybe not. There’s no one else; Michael is very much in the now and Terry was my only other love. I am a very lucky girl. Two great loves. Two lives, really.

So if I think today, on what would have been his 47th birthday, what did I learn from loving him…and losing him?

Terry taught me that life is for the living. He really believed in enjoying the simple things in life; to enjoy each day on its own terms. He was a happy guy and did I mention that smile? He made everyone around him happier.

He taught me to take care of myself and my body. He was a good looking guy and he enjoyed exercise and buying new clothes. He liked to look good. He taught me to live within my means, to follow a budget, and we planned together to expand our means. We had dreams. He liked to save for a rainy day, and I taught him to save for a sunny one too. We learned together that having dreams was one thing, but to put them into action is where the juice is.

He valued friends and teammates and loved his family. He was as uncomplicated and joyful a person you could ever hope to meet.

I thought the sky should rip open and the world should come to an end when he died. In a way, it did because I certainly couldn’t live the way I had with him in it. I don’t know why things happen the way they do. I reject the idea that things happen to teach us lessons as much as I reject the idea that life has no point at all.

How could I believe that his life ended so those who loved him could learn something? Or worse, that it had no meaning at all, that it was simply his ‘time’.

Is it true that only the good die young? He seemed to have life pretty figured out; be kind, enjoy yourself, play, work, smile. Isn’t that what life is all about at its essence? Was it his time? I don’t know, but by sheer dint of the fact that I am still here, it clearly wasn’t mine.

I heard on the grapevine that some people in our acquaintance had suggested it should have been me.

Obviously I was wildly popular. Not.

I still consider myself unlikeable. I was socially awkward. I asked too many questions. I was misunderstood, mostly because I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about or who I was and his death made my questions all the more pressing. 

On the day of his funeral, I decided I had to keep searching until I understood it all. I think I will probably live forever because I still have a long way to go.

Happy Birthday Titch, Ter-bear, Tezza, Ter, Terrence.

The quote below was the original featured image for this post. I swapped it out for the wedding photo later, when I’d gathered up the courage. There is so much unresolved shame around this time in my life. Yes, shame. I was 22, I’d grown up very sheltered and was not in any way equipped to deal with the shit storm that my life had become.

Unless I focus on his face and really force myself to remember the nice parts of this day, this wedding photo doesn’t bring up happy memories. I remember that I had been unhappy about my hair, the hairdresser hadn’t used hairspray on the little curls down the side of my face and the curl had dropped on one side. I remember Terry tucking it behind my ear but I also remember scowling at him; it was supposed to be down the side of my face, not behind my ear. Unfortunately, the videographer captured this little moment of frustration and even less fortunately, his mother did too.

His mother hated me and this little scowl was all the evidence she needed. She mentioned it many times over the confusing weeks that followed our wedding and used it against me after he died.

I use a term that I may have coined, but correct me if I’m wrong. Unconditional rejection. This is what I received from his family. I could have cured cancer and they would have hated me. I could have gone and had the plastic surgery his uncle had recommended (a boob job, of course) and become the kind of girl they all thought he should have married and it still would never have been enough. I had taken their boy from them and that was unforgivable.



      1. melcat76

        Apparently, there’s a saying in Arabic: Unlike people, grief is born huge and grows smaller. To that I would add that some griefs never get smaller past a certain point, and we never ‘get over’ but rather simply learn to live with them.

  1. melcat76

    Apart from my abiding sorrow that such a devastating thing should have ever happened to you (and to say nothing of my horror at the loss of Terry so ridiculously young), there are two main things I want to say about the above post:
    Firstly, I’m so very sorry that there were people in your orbit that would ever a) say and b) repeat such a revolting thing about another person, let alone at a time when their grief was so raw.
    Secondly, I just love and so agree with your existential sentiments: “I reject the idea that things happen to teach us lessons as much as I reject the idea that life has no point at all.” Just because we don’t know what the fark this life is all about and have a human drive to make sense of it all, doesn’t mean that either of those extreme positions are a healthy place to land. Good for you for continuing to search when so many others stop there <3

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