Today is my birthday.

Birthdays with having Michael Shroyer in my life were nothing short of too… much… “happy!” Truly! From his meticulously planned, extravagant mall scavenger hunts to the year of the 33-everythings. From the time-challenged, elaborate reality show venture to the evening with friends packed full of themed all-to-my-liking art activities and word projects… I mean. The years were special.

Always.

It’s funny that this music release has timed out to perfectly land during this exact week — this was totally unintentional on all of our parts! I’m not that forward-scheduling or organized! In fact, it feels to me much like another elaborate “Happy Birthday Surprise” that Mike would have had up his sleeve for me.

Last year I was on the phone filling my brother in on what was happening to Mike’s body, telling him of our fears and frustrations, of struggling to be seen and heard by the doctors who would believe us – who would want to get us off of this train-wreck Mike was traveling. In hearing my fears, Jeff lightened the mood: “Ami, this all just seems so unreal. In fact, I know exactly what this is: this is Mike’s most complex and extensive birthday surprise for you yet! He’s actually pretending all of this, and he has an entire hospital in on it! Any minute now, someone is going to jump out from behind a door, surprise you with just the right gift, and send you off on the trip that Mike planned for your romantic getaway!”

THAT was a much more enjoyable thought to imagine as I listened to the idea while staring at Mike, who was lying in a hospital bed – almost in a perfect flying Superman pose – wearing a bracelet that read “fall risk.”

Yes, Mike’s extravagant birthday surprises. If only.

Twenty years ago today, Michael even turned our rehearsal dinner – the night before our wedding day – into a “let’s-all-celebrate-Ami birthday party!” From before our wedding day, throughout our marriage, and even within his writings, Mike made a wholehearted commitment to me to “always protect your smile”… and he did so quite lavishly. I can honestly say that this man lived every day together on mission to protect my smile.

At the Jonatha Brooke songwriters’ retreat, she shared one of her unrecorded songs with all of us. Everyone there now knew my story and of the grief I was passing through, and once into her song, I could see her realize the words that she was singing and how they must be hitting my heart. She made it through with a few choked up phrases, and many were in a puddle of sniffles at the end of her performance. I sat in my seat frozen – listening, and thinking, “I’m not gonna lose it. I’m not gonna lose it. I’m not gonna fall apart in this circle.”

She used a specific word that Mike and I held special with each other; it was the word, ALWAYS. And as I listened to Jonatha sing her song, it was as if she had drawn this song straight from our hearts and poured it out into the still room. How she had overheard our exact conversations was simply beyond me!

Over the last 2-3 years, I have asked Mike many times, “What if tomorrow doesn’t last for always? I love you so much and I love you more every day. The years go by and my love becomes deeper, richer, better. I never want to be without you… You’re my Champion.”

He would smile his reassuring smile over me, and hold me in his big strong arms; and as any worrisome thoughts fell away, my mind would again fall in line with the “happy” rhythm of our lives.

Once Jonatha finished singing her song to us, I went up to thank her. She gripped my hands, saying, “Ami! This is YOUR song!”

So I started to ask her if I could record it, and her response was an emphatic, “YES! Please! You have to record this.”

This is a high honor to be singing a song written by a songwriting hero in my life — a song that tells our story from a place that is deep, wide, and yet so very simple. As if it were carefully crafted and created with our love story to tell.

I don’t need to add anything more. Her song says it all so well.

You can tell from our kids, from our shared moments through the years, from images, and from music…. that Mike was the protector of ALL of our HAPPY.

After his unreal passing, I felt for several months like I was living someone else’s life; I wondered how we would rediscover such profound joy. But, guess what? Because we lived together with moments overflowing this too much happiness… we are able to draw from that superabundance that we find in every memory. It’s well-deep within who we are, and bubbles up in who we are becoming. The “too much” was actually just enough, because now, it spills into every corner of our inside spaces. And joy brings with it strength. Oh how we need that!

So today… on my first birthday with Mike on the other side of this earthly life, I hold onto this “Happy Happiness Birthday,” knowing that somehow, Michael is still active in protecting my smile. I don’t have to go far to find it. My memory is full of the “too much,” and I like it that way.

Enjoy this beautiful song.

And thank you, Jonatha Brooke, for allowing me to share it.

Happiness…

Too much?

Always.

Full Song Lyrics

Too Much Happiness – Jonatha Brooke

I’m lost without you here – desperate when you’re far
Nothing even matters when I’m not where you are

It’s too much happiness, my love true
Too much happiness, too much happiness
And too little time with you

I swear my heart explodes each time that you’re near
I’m still weak in the knees when you whisper that you’re here

It’s too much happiness, my love true
Too much happiness

You say don’t worry, you say don’t fret
But I say I can’t get enough of you yet
You say tomorrow will come what may
But what if tomorrow doesn’t mean always?

Life’s too short for this much love
So I swear it on the stars
I’ll be here forever wherever you are

It’s too much happiness, it’s breaking my heart
Too much happiness, right from the start
Too much happiness, too much happiness
Too much happiness, and too little time
Too little time with you