Anyone who ever met my Mom would walk away from that meeting knowing two things: That she was one of the funniest women you have ever met and that her birthday was on January 24th. She was all about birthdays. Let me tell you something about having her for a Mom. It was an amazingly fun home to grow up in when it came to birthdays. It was all about the birthday. Just a day to celebrate? Forget it! Birthdays should last at least a week. In fact, we always had contests to see who received the most birthday cards each year. (Trust me when I say there are many, many people who are looking at their calendars knowing that today must be a holiday of some sort, but they just cannot recall what it is.)
This is the first year since I went to college when I didn’t call my Mom and sing happy birthday to her. (I did sing it to her today. How could I not? But it isn’t the same without the phone call ritual, but hell if I know her new phone number.) I knew today would be hard, but I had no idea how hard it would be. Before today came, I imagined in my mind the beautiful and eloquent things I would write about her and for her today. They all disappeared as soon as I began to think of how much I miss her and still need her. I called my Dad to make sure he was doing okay. That resulted in my crying uncontrollably for about 30 minutes to him. Guess I wasn’t such a good choice when it came to giving moral support today.
I have felt so helpless not knowing what to do to honor her. My Dad took her flowers to the cemetery. He and my sister went out to dinner in honor of this “family holiday.” But being here away from there I felt lost. So I baked a cake. A cake that I neither wanted or needed. (But have had no problem thoroughly enjoying!)
If she knew how much I have cried on her birthday, she would be the first one to tell me to knock off that silly nonsense and to laugh about the good times. And I will. And for a few minutes today, I did. But really, I just had no idea it would be this hard. No idea at all.
But for my Mom I will smile and remember how many people–friends and strangers alike– that knew that January 24th meant something, that it was a day they were supposed to remember but may know know exactly why. Many, many people who love her do know that it is her birthday and they are toasting to her today.
Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you. I miss you. And I will eat that last piece of cake. In honor of you, of course.