August 21, the day I first saw her. August 21, the last day I saw her. In between was nineteen years filled of unconditional love. When your mom dies by suicide the day after you nineteenth birthday, each year a day of normal celebration holds a bloated amount of emotions. For years after my mom died, I hated, literally hated, my birthday. I honestly wanted to forget it, but I couldn’t. Each year I would try to be happy, but after each party, dinner, or celebration, I was left with a deep sense of grief and pain.
After about fifteen years of this cycle, I decided I was going to take my birthday back. I was going to own it and not let the fact the day after my birthday was a day of grief, take away from me celebrating my own birth. For the last few years my wonderful husband and sister have helped me focus on me for the day. I have booked massages, had fancy dinners, drank expensive wine, and celebrated life.
While the last few years have been much more pleasant than dreading my birthday, I am reminded today of the complexity of emotions in life. I am reminded my insistence on having a day for me is the total opposite of my mom’s life. She focused so much on her family, she lost herself along the way. She was so giving of love, she reserved none for herself. She was so selfless, when she needed to love herself, she didn’t know how.
It seems fitting that after so many years of focusing on her death on my birthday, I have found the strength and courage to focus on myself. Instead of viewing my act as selfish, I have grown into wisdom knowing this is not only healthy, but necessary.
Today is the day I met the most loving woman I will ever know and today is the day I said goodbye to her for the last time. Today is the day I love me in the way she loved me because she loved me fully and unconditionally. She thought I could do anything and believed in me from my first breath. To honor her, to honor me, I will strive to love myself fully.