When I was 10 or 12 years old, I would occasionally have a severe pang of anxiety that something terrible had happened to my mom.
This would happen when my mom would go out for an errand on a weekend afternoon, saying that she was going to the grocery store, and "would be right back". We weren't being left alone or anything; my dad was home too. But an hour would pass, and then maybe another, and my mom was still gone.
I would sit at the kitchen window, nervously awaiting the sound of her car driving up the cul de sac. And I would convince myself in those moments of waiting that something bad had happened, that maybe my mom had been in a terrible car crash and was never coming home for me.
I never told anyone that I was scared about this until mentioning it to my mom a couple years ago. I suppose because I felt embarrassed. Because she would inevitably come bouncing through the door with bags of groceries, and it was clear that she had taken just a bit longer than expected to run another errand while she was out.
Well, something terrible has happened to my mom. And she's not coming back for me anymore and it still hurts like hell.
Tomorrow would have been my mom's 57th birthday. We visited her grave today and left my mom some flowers and talked to her for awhile. I picked out some orange freesia that smelled wonderful. It's weird leaving flowers for someone who's passed away.
I sobbed at her grave for a little bit while Gary stayed with the girls in the car. And then we brought the girls to her grave, too. Audrey sat on the cool marble slate that has her grandma's name, birth, and death written on it. Juliet happily bounced around clutching freesia blossoms in her hands.
I used to love having my birthday fall so closely to my mom's. (Just 1 day in between; 2 on a leap year.) Somehow it made me feel special to be connected to my mom in that way. I guess it still does.
Last year, mom came home from stroke rehabilitation on her birthday. It was a bittersweet day, welcoming her home after 5 weeks in the hospital. Her body and mind had been so badly damaged by the tumor and the surgery and the strokes. But my sister still made a birthday cake for Mom anyway. And the following weekend, we had a birthday party for me at our house, and I have a beautiful photo of my mom holding Juliet and smiling. This year, I wrote a card for my Mom and Juliet decorated it with stickers and crayons.
I want to honor my mom with bright freesia and joyful children, instead of drowning in the grief. But this isn't the easiest of days.