I have never been a fan of those “[person] would be [x] years old if they were alive today” posts, because they’re not alive and what does it matter how old they’d be?
I’ve stopped being able to remember how old Phil would be on his birthday, because I’ve stopped thinking about how old he was when he died. He died, he stopped living, he grows no older, this gets no easier, every year the grief is the same.
He is often memorialized as “youthful”, a word we sometimes turn to when we mean “always imagining and inventing a better way”, and because he died at one of those ages where the response is always, “oh, he was so young.”
Yes, he was, so were we all. We thought we had so many more birthdays ahead of us, so many more picnics in so many more parks.
Because he is not here anymore to remind me, I remind myself to keep imagining, to keep inventing, to keep going, to not lose a sense of wonder and possibility, to always say yes to one more cup of tea, to go for the walk, to appreciate the music, to dare and to dream.
I love you always Phil. Happy birthday, however old you’d be.
In a dream I meet
my dead friend. He has,
I know, gone long and far,
and yet he is the same
for the dead are changeless.
They grow no older.
It is I who have changed,
grown strange to what I was.
Yet I, the changed one,
ask: “How you been?”
He grins and looks at me.
“I been eating peaches
off some mighty fine trees.”
—from A Meeting by Wendell Berry