Ever since my mom killed herself the day after my 19 birthday in 1998, my birthday has been complicated. I go from wanting to fully embrace the day to hide under a rock. I anticipate the conflicting emotions each year and no matter how much I prepare, I struggle. As much as I try to process emotions before the day, I find myself broken completely. My rational self never wins out to the emotional side. As much as family and friends try to make the most of the day, I still want to crawl under the covers and pretend the complexity doesn’t exist.
I have spent the last 24 years trying to help others. I want to find meaning out of the unexplainable grief I have experienced and it has helped tremendously. I know my mom would be proud to see her death has led me to help others. I am proud of how I have pushed to make the most of life.
Yet as much as I try, I must admit as I was driving home today from a weekend with my sister, tears poured down my face. My heart ached for a mom I have not known for 24 years. My heart broke knowing I can’t escape this grief each year. I was angry knowing my birthday will never get to just be a day to celebrate life… it will always be shadowed by her death.
As my guys made me a dinner of my favorite things, bought me flowers, and sang to me, my heart was overflowing with peace. For years after my mom died, I never imagined getting to have a life like I do today. I was worried with surviving, yet I look at Matthew, Keaton, and even Minnie, and my heart is happy. While my heart hurts with grief, the goodness of my life with my guys outweighs any pain.
I know I will never get away from the complexity of my birthday. I have to accept that each August 21 will be filled with grief, joy, anger, happiness, brokenness, gratefulness. I know my mom would hate her death caused so much pain… but I also know she would be proud of the home I have created.
Home by Blue October
Truly I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner
I can’t wait to soar
But, baby, I lie awake and I watch you sleeping
thinking it’s the little things that make a home
‘Cause we’ll be dancing in the kitchen in the pale moonlight
Only care in the world is that our kids are all right
Daddy loves mamma and mamma loves him
Tomorrow we get to do it over again