Celebrating your Mom’s birthday after you lose her.
(A comedic post. Kidding.)
I wrote this a few days ago, on what would have been my Mom’s 67th birthday. After she died, I’d write and wait a little while before I’d post what I’d written. I needed some space between the feelings. The same is true today. All is well here, dear friends. Hug. – Ky
This morning a rainbow made its temporary home on the white walls of my bedroom. It beamed through my fancy-for-me “crystal” desk lamp that I ordered from JCPenney.com in 2006 when we moved to Cabo. The rainbow was right at my eye-level, placed just so I could see it.
When the girls and I were doing our pre-virtual-school morning rush, I stood at the kitchen sink and stared past the windowsill overflowing with my collection of dormant, yet hopeful orchids to the clay pots beyond and saw one lone, blooming rose the color of a fresh piece of paper. The sun was shining on her and she was reaching her chin up totally saying, “Do you see me? I see you…”
Then, an email in my inbox from my soul sister. The same friend who paved the way for me, walked beside me and held me up when my Mom died eight years ago. She wrote: I read this book… I thought of you… she sent a gift to my kindle… but more than that, a gift to my heart.
On this day.
Today is my Mom’s birthday.
And for the eighth year in a row, I can’t call her or squeeze her or sing Happy Birthday to her or tell her that I love her…
Yet, she seemed to tell me that she loved me all day today.
Ya’ll, the gentle touches and reminders are pockets of grace placed at just the right moment for a reason. And, if our eyes are open and our hearts will allow it, these little reminders will bring peace.
(I’m smiling. If you would have told me about “pockets of grace” the first year I had to face my Mom’s birthday after she died I would have un-friended you (subtly, of course, and barfed) and that would have been that. I’m 21 years into losing a Dad and 8 years into losing a Mom, I’ve got some time on my side… and the fight in me has waned…)
I’m 41-years-old and I sit cross-legged all the time. I know I’m pressing my luck, but I still do it.
I sit at my desk with my legs crossed and my feet tucked under my knees completely engrossed in my work for long stretches of time. Then, when I go to stand up, to release my legs back to the floor, there’s an ache that was never quite there before… it’s like my knees are reminding me that I’m not 9-years-old and that I should sit like a grown-up. Then I stand up… and it takes a minute to make sure the blood is flowing to my feet before I take that next step.
This is where I’m at with grief and mourning at this point in my life.
I’m comfortable with the loss.
I can sit with it for long stretches of time.
…when it’s time to stand up… to do something… to go… I feel it.
It’s a simple reminder that once was is no longer.
And that… my dear friends, and I sigh as I type this, is ok.
What once was is no longer.
I was wondering today if it would ever be possible for the calendar to announce my Mom’s birthday, January 25th — Christmas in January — without the bottom dropping out. Without my heart aching.
I can only speak for what my heart and brain have experienced and here’s the answer: the loss is now part of the day.
The unthinkable now rests peacefully alongside the celebration of her life. What was THE defining line of demarcation in my life, her death, has now woven delicately into my story. It wasn’t the thread I would have chosen… and I would have given anything to unravel it and try again, but, here we are.
And, I have no anger. That chapter has been written.
The Niagara Falls of emotion that would appear out of no-where like a toddler’s tantrum in the days and months and years following her death have been replaced with an occasionally heavy heart and eyes that randomly well-up to overflowing at her memory.
Life… and I cry as I type this, has gone on.
Vivienne’s birthday is the day before my Mom’s. And it’s always so bittersweet to celebrate the VIBRANT life that is my ten-year-old sprite of a child and then wake up the next morning and remember that my Mom isn’t here.
This, dear friends, is the paradox of life that so many write about.
THIS is the paradox that we all feel.
This is what unites us.
My Mom was hilarious and cool, but she was also painfully pragmatic and sensible. Right around her birthday or at Christmas, she’d email me a list of potential gifts she’d like, complete with sizes and color preferences and sometimes web addresses. I’d roll my eyes and silently thank her for making my gift-giving so easy.
What I wouldn’t give for that random list of kitchen gadgets and book titles.
But, I’ll take what I can get and be grateful for the moments that warmed my heart today. For the moments that invited me to pause and remember that my Mom lived and that today was the day she was born.
The celebration remains, it just takes a different shape.
Much love to you all,
Read all about the loss of my Mom and other tales of grief and loss here.