Today, May 24th, would have been Carlleena’s 39th birthday. Something that goes unmentioned often in public is the realm in which you should honor or celebrate a deceased spouse. Like…what is acceptable and what is not an acceptable form of honoring. What time frame should you continue to honor? Everyone’s route through grief and mourning is different because the relationship to the deceased is unique to each person that knew her. For me, I will always honor Carlleena in some way on the day she passed and the day of her birth. There is no right or wrong way to honor someone who has passed and there is no time frame. Some might think you should only maintain that gesture for a few years or until you’ve moved on with a new love. You may feel differently, but that’s not so in my case. My belief is that while yes, Carlleena, is no longer here in the physical, I still feel her presence and I think of her daily. She and I were part of each other’s lives since we were in the 8th grade! We grew up together and grew in love and learned how to navigate life together. I honor my mom and my nephew on their birthday’s also, so why wouldn’t I continue to honor Carlleena?!
That is not a relationship that just ends and is forgotten about since she is gone. Some might wonder how my husband, Philip, supports my honoring her life and passing. Does it make it uncomfortable for him? No it does not because he knows me, he believes in our love, he honors the symbolism and the woman I am because of my relationship with Carlleena. The relationships I entered after Carlleena passed were met with a preface of, a picture of Carlleena will always be displayed, her art will always be displayed and her family will always remain my family. If you can’t handle that now or if you have an inkling at any time that it may make you uncomfortable, then this is not going to work out. I know some people who are in similar situations as me and it creates discomfort for the new love for pictures and memorabilia to be displayed after a spouse has passed. Why would someone be jealous of a deceased spouse? I know everyone has their own way of grieving and moving on, but there should be some honor displayed for the life that was created, nourished, and shared. I am grateful to have reconnected with Philip. His compassion and love are beyond amazing.
Carlleena loved strawberry cake. She had it most years when she was a child and long into adult hood. I never actually made Carlleena a strawberry cake for her birthday because her mom would often come visit around her birthday and would bring that strawberry cake along with her! That was always such a heartfelt sentiment. I remembered something from this day 6 years ago when we were preparing for Carlleena’s Celebration of Life. I was in the kitchen that morning making Carlleena’s birthday cake! I had the strawberries cut up, the flour in a bowl, eggs, and all the other baking necessities covering the island, making a mess. About 15 minutes into Linda (Carlleena’s mom) watching my madness, she said “Marcy, what in the world are you doing?” I responded with “I’m making Carlleena’s strawberry birthday cake.” She said “you make it from scratch?” and I questioned her back with “you don’t?”…we both busted out laughing at the realization that I thought she made that dang on strawberry cake from scratch all these years and come to find out that she often made a box cake. It was a good, heartfelt laugh in the midst of a devastating, chaotic moment wrapped with love.