My Mom would have turned 62 today. My son is turning 14.
If she were still here, she would have called him as soon as she woke up this morning and sang him Happy Birthday.
The two of them once shared this day. He was born on a Tuesday morning, the day after Memorial Day. I'd graduated from law school just three days prior and my parents had been down for that celebration. They'd left the morning before he was born, only to get a phone call that prompted them to get back in the car.
They didn't make it in time to see him born. No one did. The doctor almost missed it, in fact.
He was swept away to the NICU, connected to a ventilator and more. She was overcome with joy and worry as were we all that day.
He, obviously, endured what he needed to, weaned off the ventilator and then the CPAP, was allowed to go home after the longest nine days in my life.
His first 11 years after then were spent celebrating this shared birthday with her, whether in person or over long distant phone lines.
When he was old enough, they sang to each other. At the same time.
This day in 2013, she was in a hospital somewhere in California, again. I didn't know where she was at the time, though I tried every day to find her. I called a phone that had been disconnected, again, hoping that she'd pick up this time. She didn't sing to my son that day.
A few months later, she was gone.
Time doesn't really heal like they say it is supposed to. I wonder sometimes if the people who insist time heals have ever truly lost someone, if they have any idea what they are talking about, or if they're just placating us with words that sound right even when there isn't much truth to them at all.
Either that, or they just feel compelled to say something to make it seem better.
It's okay to be sad. Honest. It's part of life.
Time doesn't make it hurt less, for sure, it just changes how we interact with these days on the calendar slightly from year to year.
Last year was the first one since her death, the first birthday that had been shared and wasn't anymore. I know that my son isn't quite sure what to do with all the feelings that accompany this day. He is glad to celebrate his milestones, for sure, but he misses her. More than that, though, he remembers her. He is old enough to have memories of who she was before the great unraveling. He remembers what she was like when he was a little boy and he remembers what happened in the years more recent. He remembers the things that occurred, the choices made, the pain involved. He remembers it all.
He misses her, but I think we both know that he misses who she was before all that. Before he came to me and quietly asked if it was okay if he didn't want to go see her alone anymore, before he realized that she had become unhinged, before he absorbed the things that he saw, before all that.
When she left, just after the last birthday they shared together, he asked me if she'd be happy now that she was leaving, if she'd find what she was looking for where she was going.
I told him the truth - that I didn't know, that I hoped so.
Between last year and this, he's grown up so much. He still doesn't understand why things happened the way they did - nor do I - but he has begun to understand her more. He knows that she wasn't well, that she was doing the best that she could given the circumstances, that she didn't mean to hurt us, to hurt him. He knows all that now. Perhaps he even knew it then.
And now, he just misses her.
So do I.
If there is one thing that time does seem to accomplish, it would be that time seems to dull the anger, dulling and dulling until it has almost completely vanished. Once you accept you'll never have answers to the questions you ask, you stop asking them.
Once the anger dissipates, the love is what remains.
Happy birthday, Mom.
We'll miss you today.
We'll be spending this day celebrating him. He's turned into a young man and I think you'd be pretty proud of who he is.
I love you.
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