Last Friday, July 29th, was Natalie's birthday. She would have been 6 years old. This marked the fifth birthday we have had to endure without her. It seems incomprehensible that five birthdays have come and gone now without our beautiful little girl. I found her birthday extremely difficult to get through this year. Unlike years past, when the days leading up to the birthday were hardest and the day itself was relatively OK, this year was just really, really hard. I kept thinking how Natalie was born on a Friday and this year her birthday was on a Friday. Six years have come and gone since I gave birth to her in such a quick, joyous delivery that I actually giggled when she came out. Six years, my goodness.
My brother Bob was here visiting us this year and so he and Gabriel and I went blueberry picking to honor Natalie's birthday (Roslyn was at camp and Chris was working). We picked over 12 pounds of berries and enjoyed each and every one of them. Gabriel had fun reaching and grabbing them off the bushes from the backpack. It was an overcast day and perfect picking weather.
I wanted to make a cake for her birthday - blueberry cake, of course. I spent days searching the internet for a recipe and searched through what seemed like hundreds of them - cheesecake, pound cake, regular cake, this cake, that cake. I couldn't decide. I was frozen with indecision. It was like I was paralyzed. And so, I didn't make any cake. Grief manifests in different ways and for me, this year, that's how it came out. We ended up having fresh blueberries over ice cream. Chris helped me make peace with my indecision by reminding me that that's how Natalie liked them best - just plain, pop 'em in your mouth and enjoy. He is right. We lit six candles but did not sing "Happy Birthday." It is not a happy birthday when your Birthday Girl isn't here anymore. How can it be? Instead, we all had a moment of silence, a moment to remember, a moment to cry for our beloved Natalie Joy.
Today, now over a week later, I wanted to pick more berries to build up our winter's supply in the freezer. We went back to where we picked last week on Natalie's birthday, but they were closed - "all picked out," the sign said. I was so disappointed having driven all the way up there. Gabriel was getting antsy in the car. The only other place I could think of to go is Rocky Point, but that's in Warwick, quite a long drive from Franklin, MA, where we were. Then I noticed directions we'd printed out to Harmony Farms in Greenville, much closer and on our way home. So we drove there and I was amazed at the abundance and fabulousness of their blueberries. It was even better picking than last week! Clusters of huge, sweet, perfect blueberries. I let Gabriel out of the backpack and he had a blast roaming up and down the rows of bushes, picking his fill, falling down, getting back up, being the amazing little boy he is. And, Roslyn was my wonderful helper, my big girl. We had a good time. Harmony Farms, we'll be back!