Dear Mom: It's Your Birthday
This is the first January 7th
where I will not speak with you. Where I will not call you on the
phone. Where I will not come down to visit you.
This the first January 7th
where your birthday falls on a weekend and the weather isn't wretched, so that
I COULD come down and see you. But you're not there. That's
sad. That's weird. That's unfair.
In 2022 we all came to
celebrate your birthday weeks after the fact. I can't remember why it
took so long. We were over Covid by your birthday. The three
of us came down and celebrated, bringing you one of your favorites:
bagels, cream cheese and lox. It was the last time you would really enjoy
it. (When I tried again around Easter, you were so sick that you could
barely eat anything.)
I went alone to the shore
today. Your grandson is at rehearsal. I know you would be proud of
him, having one of the leading roles in one of YOUR favorite musicals, "Hello
Dolly!" You told me, and I’m sure you told him as well, how you saw
the original production, had orchestra seats and were blown away when Carol
Channing walked out on the runway in full regalia. I will think of you
each time I see the show. (And I will see the show 4 times because I will NOT
miss a single performance of his final show in high school.)
I wish I was bringing bagels. Or at least picking up one of your favorite soups (chicken corn chowder) at the local Wawa. (Although it wasn't available today at "my" Wawa. Would you have made due with chicken noodle?) I wish I could see you sitting on the sofa in the living room.
I wish you were sitting there smiling, as I try to remember. (And brush away the memories of you being so miserable sitting there the last few times I visited.) I wish we could sit there and talk and watch the "divey" duck as it popped under the lagoon water and then came up minutes (?) later in a different spot. (There were no "divey" ducks today...although I did see some mallards.)
It was strange to be there on
this day without you. The house does not have your soul anymore.
There was something about it when you were there. While your memory IS
still there, there is a missing piece (or pieces) and it's not just that I've
donated almost all of your clothes and much (but not all) of your
belongings. It might be partially because M, the caregiver, has put her
own stamp on it. Areas that were uniquely you are no longer just
that. That's not right or wrong, but it is just different.
I spent my time down there
trying to help dad with some little things that needed to be done.
(Including getting the copier to print out the way we needed it to.) I
had lunch with dad. I brought my homemade soup (the leftover Christmas
ham never goes to waste) and he had his standard peanut butter and jelly.
I know he is in pain and I wish there was something that could be done about
that. I wish that the last 9 (or so) months of your life were not so
difficult and painful. I wish I could have done something; changed
Before I left I did check out
the ocean on your behalf. Not at the 7th Avenue beach where we spent most
of our time, but at 2nd Avenue, where Uncle Harold would have taken us when I
was little. The tide was relatively low and there were people walking the
beach. I wish WE could walk on the beach. I wish we could just sit
on the beach like we once did.
I am not the only one who
misses you on this day. Your grandson let me know that he intended to go
to the cemetery. By the time I got home, he'd been and then gone back out
again. (The joys of "having" the car that once belonged to you
and still carries your personalized license plates.) My husband says he's
a little "off" today. I've come to realize that I will always
be so wrapped up in my own (selfish) grief and thoughts that I rarely am aware
of the pain that others are still grappling with. That is something I
need to work on.
There is a hole; a missing
piece, this January 7th. But the sun is starting to set and, as we must,
we move forward. Forward without your physical presence, but still (and
always) holding you in our hearts.