Home > Family, Love > The happiest 37th birthday there ever was

The happiest 37th birthday there ever was

I turned 37 today.

I share(d) my birthday with my mom, who died of cancer five years ago.

At 33, I wrote about how my mom would have been 54, if only she hadn’t died first.

At 34, I wrote about how my mom would have been 55, if only she hadn’t died first.

At 35, I wrote about how my mom would have been 56, if only she hadn’t died first.

At 36, I wrote a letter to my mom, and finally thought more about my mom’s life than her death.

This year, I barely thought about my mom at all. It doesn’t mean I didn’t feel her with me; to the contrary, I feel her every time I smile, laugh, cry, and sit or read or run with my kids. She is with me in how I live, so that her death doesn’t really seem final to me the way it used to.

Her body perished, but …

So what?

Is that what mattered about her: the flesh that housed her wild brilliance?

Nah.

So today, today I worked through the morning. I juggled kids and school responsibilities. I drove to Legoland with my sister and my two boys.

birthday boys

At Legoland, all was well. My older son clung close to his auntie, and shared his rides with her, while my younger son carved dirt with sticks and tried hijacking his older brother’s discarded boots. These moments were simultaneously ridiculous and everything.

My younger son awakened and screamed when I stopped for gas on the way home. I translated his screams as, “Why did you stop my magic vibration machine?!?!” My older son tried to plug his ears. “Make him stop, Mommy! Make him stop!” he urged me as he tried to find his way back to sleep.

My sister helped wrangle them into the house. The littler one tried falling asleep on the couch, but I whisked him away to bed.

The big one was harder to whisk away, so I left him be.

My sister left as my husband returned from a long workday.

He brought me beer, enchiladas, and his trademark willingness to play with my hair for four hours just because.

And it was perfect.

It was perfect the way my bridal shower/bachelorette party was perfect: I prepared for my wedding with my sisters close at hand. That’s it. Nothing wild, nothing loud, nothing that cost money. Just me sitting with people who loved me and could appreciate how strange and wonderful it was that I was, all aversions aside, Actually Getting Married.

Like my bridal shower/bachelorette party, today’s perfection wasn’t in the what or the where but in the who:

My sister, in person;

My sons, in person;

My husband, in text;

My siblings, in missed calls; and

My mom, in spirit, forever

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Categories: Family, Love Tags: , , , , ,
  1. October 31, 2015 at 12:56 am

    A very happy birthday to you.
    Each and every year.
    I hope it continues to be filled with the important things. Love and laughter are the very best of gifts. And don’t require storing or dusting.

  2. October 31, 2015 at 1:04 am

    Happy Birthday 🙂 Glad it was a great one 🙂
    And FOUR HOURS???? Wow 🙂 *jealous*

    • October 31, 2015 at 5:08 am

      Thank you! I conked out shortly after I posted this. My husband occasionally apologizes for this or that (work hours come to mind); I typically say, “Whatever. Keep playing with my hair and we’re all good!” :p

  3. October 31, 2015 at 2:16 am

    Birthday post. Happy Birthday honey. X

  4. October 31, 2015 at 2:30 am

    That indeed sounds like perfection. I hope as many future birthdays as possible find you equally at peace.

    • October 31, 2015 at 5:10 am

      Thank you! I hope so, too. Indeed, part of my annual birthday celebration involves updating my “About Me” page to reflect my hope the next [number of years equal to those lived so far] are as unpredictable and full of love as were the same number of years lived to date.

  5. October 31, 2015 at 3:06 am

    Happy Birthday!!!! 🙂

  6. October 31, 2015 at 4:59 am

    Growing up would have been cool to have the sane birthday as your mom. Now that your mom is gone, the reminders would be the very opposite, and I am very sorry Deborah.

    Thank you for sharing about your birthday. It was busy and full of life from your loved ones in your family. And I know your mom’s spirit was indeed present there.

    Take care, and thank you for sharing! 🙂

    ~Carl~

    • October 31, 2015 at 5:15 am

      It felt such a joyous thing, for so many years! But, as you suggest, the revelation we’d no longer actively share it made me wish we’d had different days; one of the thoughts that went through my head over and over the day Mom’s diagnosis was confirmed was this exact thought. Now I am back to thinking it a gift … but there was a stretch of years where it saddened me deeply. I thank you for your well wishes and gently shared insights.

      • October 31, 2015 at 5:35 am

        You are very welcome Deborah. It makes me happy that this birthday journey is going full circle. May your mom’s life spirit continue to be with you!

  7. Deb
    October 31, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Happy Birthday!

  8. October 31, 2015 at 6:35 am

    Happy birthday, Deb! I hope it’s filled with tons of laughter, light, and love.

    • November 1, 2015 at 5:12 am

      Thanks, Darla! It was, in a way that’s gonna keep my heart overflowing for days at least. ♥

  9. October 31, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Happy (belated) birthday!!
    It sounds perfect.

  10. October 31, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Happy Birthday! Sounds like you had an awesome day!

    • November 1, 2015 at 5:13 am

      I did! Still smiling about it this morning. (It could be that I’m also smiling at J’s insistence on sharing the dog’s bed with the dog right now.)

  11. October 31, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Happy Birthday! What a great day!!

    • November 1, 2015 at 5:17 am

      Thank you! It was. Some of my favorite moments were on and around an enormous play structure. D and I helped J climb up to the second level on a long mesh tunnel, after which we climbed up a net to a third level. J went down a long tunnel slide and just squealed with delight while D waited for him at the bottom. It was such a delight that we sent him down a much longer tunnel slide. Aaaaah, the sound of those little boys’ mirth! Then, just sitting around its base watching J play in the dirt … in that, I almost felt like little girl me was playing in the dirt with all her siblings thirty years ago. Just lovely, all of it. ♥

  12. October 31, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Love heals.

  13. October 31, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Happy, happy day, my friend! Happy times, happy family, happy memories — happy friends on the blog, happy for you!

    • November 1, 2015 at 5:18 am

      Thank you! Still so thrilled how full of love (and, awesomely, not full of traffic) was the day!

  14. October 31, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Happy birthday, Deb. I’m glad you were able to share your special day taking your boys somewhere they loved. That’s one thing I like doing, too. When LM asked what I’m doing for my birthday next month, I told him I wanted to go player laser tag and arcade games with him, which made him so happy!

    • November 1, 2015 at 5:21 am

      So awesome! The boys’ laughter was absolutely the best present for me. Getting to talk with my sister when the boys crashed in the car on the way back was dessert. We’ve both been so busy lately, we haven’t really gotten to talk for months. I ended the day just … feeling so great, I’m getting choked up trying to describe it now. But I know you know. ♥

      • November 1, 2015 at 8:01 am

        You’ve managed to make my eyes mist over trying to describe it ❤

  15. November 1, 2015 at 5:03 am

    Happiest of birthday to you, Deb. Glad you had a great day.

  16. November 1, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Belated happy birthday 🙂

  17. November 1, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Happy Birthday and what a perfect post to show the amazingness that happens each day in just the simple and the familiar! Sounds like a great day to me. I lost my mom a few years ago too and you described exactly how I feel about her now- she’s in all I do and crops up in our everyday life over and over.

    • November 8, 2015 at 5:05 am

      It’s a joyous thing to realize that transformation has occurred: that there’s still sadness, sometimes profound, but that there’s also presence in ways you couldn’t imagine in those early, heartbroken days. ♥

  18. November 1, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Happy happy birthday. A perfect post to document a perfect day.

  19. November 2, 2015 at 2:57 am

    Happy Belated birthday! I spend my birthdays doing family things too. They make me happiest and what more could I ask for right?! I’m glad y’all had a great day!

    • November 2, 2015 at 4:21 am

      Thank you! D may not have loved the treats in the trick-or-treat line, but everything else really was a treat. :p

  20. November 3, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Way to appreciate the lovely special in the everyday ordinary. Happy (belated) birthday to you, Deb!

    • November 8, 2015 at 5:06 am

      Belatedly, thank you!

      Yesterday, D told his visiting Auntie Rache that we’d need to go to Legoland since she didn’t come to his September birthday celebration. Nice try, kiddo. 😉

  21. November 3, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Happy belated Birthday. I hope you believe in the adage better late than never, if not, then I hope you can forgive me for being tardy 🙂

    • November 8, 2015 at 5:07 am

      Thank you so much! Outside of work, I now pretty much live by “better late than never.” 😀

  22. November 3, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Happy happy day—and happy happy year! I appreciate every year I get older, not just because the alternative is less ideal, but because I feel more and more like myself. Hugs friend!

    • November 8, 2015 at 5:10 am

      I’ve really enjoyed blogging for many reasons these recent years. One of the most prominent is reading birthday posts from some of the older women I follow. Through them, I can see how the greater comfort I feel in my skin now compared to three or four years ago (and certainly eight or nine years ago) will only continue to grow. That’s an exciting thing to see growing outside myself and, in so doing, recognize growing within myself.

  23. La Sabrosona
    November 4, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Felicidades! I got a few more crows feet from smiling so wide. Sounds like such a lovely way to spend your birthday. xx

  24. November 8, 2015 at 3:58 am

    Happy Belated Birthday! I missed this, for reasons I’ll explain in a comment on the Nov. 8 post- both (all of your posts) resonate deeply within in me and add context to thoughts and issues in my own life. Here, I also experienced a diminishing “birthday” sadness each birthday after my mother died. My mom was my birthday champion- the only person I could count on to remember it and the person responsible for it! Like you, I am buoyed by feeling my mom in all of the things I do and feel throughout my day- she is on my shoulder and in my heart! Thank you for expressing these feelings and bringing such warmth to a sad fact of our lives.

  1. October 31, 2015 at 1:53 am
  2. November 1, 2015 at 3:43 pm

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