School started for my older children a few days ago. Weeks ago, my wife and I sat down with our Fall calendars and began to offer collective sighs as we began to feel the exhaustion set in before it even started.
Fall is always a busy time for me. Four of the five of my immediate family members have birthdays within a three and a half week period. If you add cousins and grandparents into the mix, add another four weeks, there are seven additional birthdays.
Once upon a time, there were eight additional birthdays…
My mom would have been 77 years old today. A friend messaged me the other day to check in on me as she knew that the day was approaching. I had gone silent on social media and she was concerned. Having experienced her own share of losses, the impending dread around certain dates was familiar to her.
I started thinking about this day at least a month ago. My thoughts weren’t necessarily thoughts of dread, they were just reminders, preparing myself, bracing myself, maybe, for what could potentially hit me as the date approached.
This is the fifth time that I’ve had to pass this birthday without celebration and without my mom. Dare I say that it’s gotten a little easier with every successive year?
Don’t get me wrong, not a day goes by that my mom is not on my mind. There’s still a hole there that cannot be filled. But the ache is more dull than it once was, it doesn’t feel as fresh but rather resembles the throb of an old scar that sends shivers when touched, poked, or prodded.
There are still sharp pains and aches, they mostly have to do with my kids. Baseball games. Basketball games. School programs. Moments when I wish that she was beside me, not necessarily for what she could offer me, but more for what she could offer my children. Whether they know it and feel it or not, there’s a gap, a hole, in them as well.
Other than this post, today may go by with little to no acknowledgement of this event. Maybe I should start some kind of tradition with my kids, maybe I should take some time to remember, but I remember more often than not, doing it today isn’t necessary.
I’m a better man because of what my mom gave me, so it’s hard for me to fully comprehend the gravity of this day. If this day hadn’t happened, neither would I.
Yes, it’s gotten a little easier since 2011, but I miss her still.
Happy birthday, Mom! I love you and I’ll see you again!