On the Occasion of What Would Have Been Her Seventy-Ninth Birthday

Dear Mom,

Today you would have turned seventy-nine! In an ideal world, you’d still be alive and mostly healthy (or as healthy as a person of that age can be, which is pretty healthy). I’d call you up, ask chat with you for a while, wish you Happy Birthday, and maybe send some flowers. Dad would take you out to dinner, and you’d order a decadent dessert. Then, you’d probably head home and watch television in bed or read a book.

This isn’t an ideal world. You cannot do any of those things. You are gone.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: not having you here on this earth sucks. Our relationship, like many mother-daughter pairs, was not without its issues. but the mother you were to the younger me wasn’t the same mother you were to the older me. The relationship we forged as I matured into an adult was solid and true. We spoke via phone nearly every day, and no matter how trivial the news was that I had to share, you wanted to hear it.

Last year on your birthday, the first without you in this world, I wrote a list of things I wanted to tell you. I had to stop myself then—I had so much to say and only a small space to say them—and I truly thought that as time went by, I’d adjust. I’d learn not to want to tell you what happened in my life. I’d release the craving to talk to you on the phone. Like a habit you actively force yourself not to do, I’d eventually fall out of the habit.

I have not.

During these last few weeks, many moments arose in which I  wanted to pick up the phone and chat. Not about anything in particular, necessarily—just about the day-to-day life events we would have talked about in the past.

About Melina and driving, Aaron’s teeth mishap, the girls turning twenty-two (!), the stories I’m writing, the ready I participated in for Literary Mama, Patty’s anxiety about everything—how to help that dog? I’m not sure—Arnold’s aggression and Heathcliff’s headbutts for attention. About the fact that I don’t like the aroma of our laundry detergent but I don’t like to waste money, so we’ll soldier through and that our towels, the ones you bought for us over twenty years ago, are still in use (some of the edges are frayed, but that’s okay!). About the books I’ve read recently, several of which you would have enjoyed, and the state of the country, which is concerning (and that’s an understatement). About my reference to the posters you made years ago that hung in our kitchen and that we still make your white bean soup recipe.

So many things to say from this kid who never really talked much.

Anyway, back to reality: it’s your birthday, you’re not here, and Dad won’t remember the significance of this date. I’ll still hold a little celebration in my mind, whisper a heartfelt Happy Birthday, maybe even take out a snack cake and stick a candle in it in honor of you. Whatever the case may be, you’ll be with me. Today, tomorrow, and always.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I still miss you.


Image of cake and flower by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.com.

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