The days leading up to my 35th birthday have been incredibly sad. This is the saddest I have ever felt as a birthday has approached. Your birthday is the one day that links you inexorably to your Mom. In most ways that is a beautiful thing. If your Mom is no longer alive, it kind of makes it difficult to achieve a celebratory mood.
I keep imagining my Mom, thirty-five years ago being fully expectant with me (I was overdue), feeling as big as a house, harboring anxiety over my impending birth and the stirrings of unconditional love for a mysterious being she hadn’t even met. My Mom was a woman of few words. I know only the basic details of my birth day. I was slightly over nine pounds, my Mom was overwhelmed with relief that I was healthy (she had me at thirty-three which categorized her as an older, at-risk Mom in that day and age), that I was born on a Friday the thirteenth (which my Mom claimed to have been one of her luckiest Fridays ever) and I was a good baby right from the start (oh, why oh why couldn’t my boys have been like that in the newborn phase?).
I don’t know much about what she was feeling. I think that now that I’ve given birth twice, I have a better perspective. That’s what I can’t get out of my head. I can’t escape the images of my Mom being young and beautiful, eagerly waiting for my arrival. I feel what she felt. I feel the hope and the fear of it all. The feelings of a power greater than yourself as you prepare to give life to another person and the feelings of absolute helplessness because you have no control over the process or the outcome. It is at once amazing and terrifying.
I was with my Mom on that day. She held me and loved me and promised to take care of me. On that day there was no inkling that we would only have thirty-four years and how our time together would end. There was only relief and joy.
I know that a year from now, the grief I am feeling surrounding my birthday won’t feel as raw as it does right now. I am trying to label the sadness I feel as simply love that is blurred at the edges. The painful connection I feel to what used to be is a reminder that I had something special in the first place. Maybe the more sadness you feel when you lose someone means the more blessed you were by the impact they had on your life. If this is true, then I am blessed a million times over. For that, I am truly grateful, deep sadness and all.