Posts Tagged ‘birthday’


Mixed Days And Negative Feelings

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality

October has been a busy month of anniversary days and feelings to match.

On the 1st I celebrated my 10th anniversary of working for Hewlett-Packard. Well, sort of. Back in 2000 I left Coca-Cola to accept a job with Bank of America. I was with the Bank for a little over two years, and then they decided to outsource my job to Electronic Data Systems (EDS). EDS was very gracious and rolled over my service time with the Bank. About five and a half years later EDS merged with Hewlett-Packard, and again my service time was rolled over. So, while 2010 technically marks my 10th service anniversary with HP, I have physically worked for them only two years. It seems strange to think that my time keeps getting rolled over from one company to the next…what would have been nice is if back in the beginning Bank of America had counted my time worked with Coca-Cola (about 12-1/2 years); then I would be in my 22nd year with HP instead of my 10th. But, it really would not mean very much in the long run…to recognize my “special day” my manager wished me a happy anniversary and I received a certificate (via e-mail) from the CEO of the company thanking me for my years of work. It felt somewhat underwhelming for the occasion, but given the state of the business world these days I am grateful to have a job.

Last Friday (the 15th) was another sort of anniversary, marking four months having passed since Stephen’s accident. I no longer count the weeks; they are becoming too numerous to keep up with. I will probably stop counting the months as well once the first year or two has passed. It reminds me a lot of when he was born…first we counted his age in days, then weeks, then months until he was about 2, and then we counted years after that. It feels strange that once again I am counting time like this for one of my children; I had not expected anything like that to happen until my children started having their own babies sometime in the far future.

Today is yet a different anniversary – my 48th birthday. It is another year older for me, which I really do not mind at this point in my life, but it is also another “first” because Stephen is not here. I am sure my wife and younger son will do something special this evening to celebrate and my friends will offer their best wishes throughout the day, all of which I greatly appreciate, but I am certain I will still feel somewhat empty inside because Steve isn’t here.

Underwhelmed, strange, and empty – all negative feelings, even for the days that should have been positive. I do not know what significance, if any, could be tied to that. Any thoughts?


19 and (Still) Growing

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality, Yesterday's Memories

Tomorrow is my daughter’s 19th birthday. It’s the first year she will be celebrating it away from my home and the rest of our family. She will be with friends, who I’m certain will make sure she has an enjoyable day, and there is a remotely possible chance that her mother and I may get to speak to her for a few minutes.

This occasion has given me mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am sorrowful she will not be around to celebrate the day with us; on the other, I am proud to see her trying to move forward and trying to be more like the adult she has become. But, being proud of her doesn’t mean I have to like all of her choices; in fact, I’m not pleased with most of the ones she has made over the past six months or so (on which I will not elaborate here, other than to say she has chosen to take up permanent residence elsewhere). However, I do respect the fact that she is being the independent young woman we tried to raise, and she is making her own choices.

As a result, she is also learning what it truly means to live with the consequences of her actions. Because she has chosen to live elsewhere she is no longer considered a member of my household; among other things, this makes her ineligible for medical coverage through my employer’s health plan, and she must get her own policy. The same is true with her car insurance (she doesn’t own a car, but she is both licensed and living in a household that has one, and under Texas law she must have coverage or she gets points put on her driving record). On top of it all, at last word she did not have a job, so it’s uncertain to me how she plans to pay for any of that. It’s hard for me to know whether or not she has taken care of all these things; she has communicated very little with any of us in the last few months. But, from what I do know about her character as I watched her grow up, I am certain she will stick with it until she has everything worked out.

There have also been changes in the rest of my family as a result of her decisions. One of my sons spends a lot of his time in her old bedroom, where his computer is now set up on her old desk. Financially, I have one less mouth to feed (although my sons are quickly filling that gap), and there will be one less dependent to claim when my wife and I file our taxes next year (this is a fairly fresh one on my mind since yesterday was Tax Day). It’s also one less person for me to worry about taking to the doctor when she’s sick, or the dentist when she has a cavity, the eyeglass shop when she needs new contacts, or the pharmacy when she needs medicine. All of that burden is on her now.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, all of this change has hurt me greatly. I’ve tried my best to put it all in perspective by looking back at when I was her age, but the comparisons aren’t quite the same. Aside from the obvious difference in gender, when I was 19 I was living away from home as well, but my parents had been divorced for about 18 months and my three brothers were split up living with one parent or the other; my family today is intact and all living under one roof. She has had tremendous financial support for her college education; I was working two jobs and paying for my college classes out of my own pocket. Any way I cut it, it’s just not the same situation.

I don’t know if she will ever read this blog, but if she does I hope she comes to realize how difficult it is for me to watch as she heads down this road, knowing what lies ahead but unable to get her to believe, or even listen, to my experience-filled voice. It had been my hope that I could have helped her avoid going through the School of Hard Knocks, but it appears she decided to go there anyway. I have come to conclude that it must be a rite of passage for all of us at one time or another, and the cycle will likely repeat itself when she becomes a parent and her children head out into the world.

I do know that she’s very bright and very deep-minded, and I believe someday she’ll figure out what I was trying to tell her now, and come back and say “you were right.” I just hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

Happy Birthday Michelle!