Saturday, April 17, 2010

Birthday Wishes

This is my mom (and my nephew). Aren't they beautiful? This is one of my favorite pictures of both of them.

Today would have been my mom's 51st birthday.

It's hard for me to really think about my mom without being very emotional. Day to day, I'm much better with her death. I completely accept (and have since almost the day she died) that God has much bigger plans for her than I can ever understand, and that he must have really needed her in Heaven. This is a concept that is bigger than I am, because I KNOW we still needed her here on Earth, more than words can even say. Thank goodness for that faith; it helped me be calm the days she spent in the hospital, make the decisions I never wanted to make, get out of bed the days following her death, and get on with my life in the weeks and months since then.

It's the big picture that gets to me. The things she's missing. The things about her that I miss.

I was staying with my mom in the months before she died, getting ready to move into a place of my own after a very hard time in my life. I distinctly remember her telling me, after I got off the phone with a friend, that it was good to hear me laugh again. During this rough patch in my world, I didn't have a lot to laugh about, and it took me some serious time and healing to get back to a place where life was full of more smiles than frowns. When she told me that, it struck me as something I would always remember. Now that I can see children in my future, I can sort of imagine what she meant - it must be a joyous sound to hear your child laugh, especially if they haven't done it all that often lately. Because I carry those words with me, it makes it possible for me to be happy, even when I'm missing her terribly. Because I know she'd much rather hear the sound of my laugher than see my tears.

One of my biggest memory failings in life (and I don't have many...I have a ridiculously sharp memory) is whether or not I told my mom that I loved her as she went to bed, the night before she went to the hospital. I won't really go into the story of her death, but whatever it was I said to her in the moments before she went to bed would be the last conversation we had. I'm 99% sure that I did tell her I loved her as we were saying goodnight, because I always did, but my memory is failing me. I should at least tell you that she was in perfectly good health when she went to bed that night...it wasn't even a glimmer of a thought in my mind that she might not wake up the next morning.

That is the one lesson in life I'll take with me everywhere. For the rest of my life. Tell people you love them. You just never know. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough to people who've never experienced the unexpected loss of a loved one. Mike and I don't leave the house without telling each other, "I love you." I don't leave my family without a hug and an "I love you." Same goes for the pets...I send Molly off to play in the yard, and she knows there's a rule that she has to hug me before she goes. It's just part of my life that I take opportunities to express my love when I have them. Until I don't have them anymore. And even then, I still do it.

I talk to my mom, all the time. People probably think I'm nuts, and I really don't care. I have long conversations with her. I really miss her talking back, laughing at my ridiculousness, telling me everything will be okay, getting excited about whatever bargain I found at Target that week. I miss my best friend.

I'm crying as I type this. Because that's what I do. I try not to, but then I think, that's not natural. I try to not think about her death, but instead her life. Her death was one day, her life was 47 amazing years.

So, happy birthday, Mommy. Thank you for being part of my life, every moment of every day. You are the best gift I could have ever been given.

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