Since my parents passed last year, my family has been through a number of “firsts” – first Mother’s Day, first anniversary and first holidays. When my Dad passed in September, we were hit just a couple of weeks later with his birthday. Our feelings were still so raw at that point that I’m not sure how different our grief was on that day, than any other since he had passed.
Tomorrow is my Mom’s birthday. She would have been 75. She has been gone 10 months now, and while I miss her every day, the daily pain of that loss has lessened somewhat. Yet today, as I think about her birthday, it is like that wound is being reopened a little. Exposing the rawness of our loss and reminding me that she is no longer with us.
It has been many years since I was able to see my Mom in person on her birthday. Living a distance away, and with her birthday so close behind the holidays and in the midst of winter, we just never made the trip to visit. Though each year I would make certain to have flowers delivered and I would call later to see how her day went and how they had celebrated! She always seemed to love those deliveries and our phone chats! It was an annual tradition!
I will miss doing that with her this year!
I recently read an article titled “Celebrate you more, Mourn you less.” In the article, the writer talks about the years following the death of her father and how she had spent them in dread, grief and isolation. One particular year, while feeling very emotional and overwhelmed, she realized that while she had been having these emotions for years, she had never truly dealt with her feelings of loss and how very much she missed her father. A friend suggested that rather than spending the day in sadness, she should throw her father a birthday party. Not a party with balloons and streamers, but a day filled with things her father would have done, like watching a favorite movie, planning a favorite meal or enjoying a favorite activity. She did exactly that and ended the day by inviting her friends for birthday cake and sharing special memories about her father.
She ends her post with this…
“When the day was over, I was filled with peace beyond explanation. I had never felt so close to my father in the nine years since he had died. I knew that I needed to continue to honor him in this way, and that finding joy in celebrating his memory is exactly what he would want me to do. For the past few years, my dad’s birthday has become an entirely new milestone for me. Rather than being one of the “hard days,” it is now a day that I look forward to, and get excited about. His birthday has become an opportunity to share memories with people in my life who never got to know my dad, as well as those who did. One of my dad’s favorite things to do was eat great Italian food at a table full of people he loved. Tonight, I am going to celebrate his birthday by doing just that.”
~ Elizabeth Sullivan, HelloGrief.org
It has not yet been a full year for us. We still have “firsts” to make our way through, followed by seconds and thirds. It took Elizabeth many years to learn to celebrate the life and memories of her father, rather to continue to mourn his loss. I pray it will not take my family that long!
A running joke in our house has to do with my Mom being notorious for burning biscuits. My husband has even enjoyed a few overly baked goods with my family since we’ve been married! For years, we have called it “Caroling the rolls”! It wasn’t something my Mom was proud of, but most of the time she could laugh about it! We probably gave her the worst ribbing when she actually “caroled the kitchen” – of course after we confirmed everyone was ok!
I think tomorrow I may just leave the biscuits in the oven for a few extra minutes to give them a proper Caroling!
Thinking on those memories, I can’t help but laugh. In my sadness and in my tremendous grief for my Mom…I can still laugh. God works in our hearts in miraculous ways!
Thoughts of all the things she loved to do, all the things she taught me and all the things I loved about her will fill me until I see her again!
I pray that I will find ways to celebrate the memory of my Mom, not just on her birthday but any and every day of my life! Her birthday will certainly be a sad day for me and my family! Yet I pray each of us will find that one thing to brighten our day on January 29 – in honor of our beautiful Mom, Carol!
Happy Birthday Mom! I love you!