Saturday, September 8, 2007

Happy Birthday to Us!

It's your birthday, Mother, and if you were here I'd say Happy us! That's what we used to say, you and I, once I was finally willing to acknowledge that it was your birthday, too! I used to be a self-centered little thing, didn't I? I'm glad you never held it against me.

I thought it would get easier to live without you and I guess, after nearly ten years, it is. But I still can't get through a day without thinking of you and, when I do, the tears surprise me all over again. No, I'm not really sad and certainly not depressed, but there's something about thinking about your mother. . . . I know you'd understand, because you were that way about your mother, too.

Sometimes it helps to list the things I'm thankful for. I'm glad you got to know Scott and Diane, because in knowing and loving them, you learned even more about me, and about Steve-- your own children. You thought Steve and I were both pretty lucky in our mates and marriages. I even jokingly accused you of liking Scott better than me, and though you denied it, I noticed you didn't protest too hard!

You spent time with all four of your grandchildren, making up in quality what you were denied in quantity. I feel a little guilty about that, because I enjoy such easy access to my own grandson. Speaking about yourself and my dad, you'd say, You just have no idea how much we love these kids! I used to think to myself, Of course. I know you love them a lot. But, as usual, you were right; I didn't know. Not until I held my own grandchild would I understand.

I wish you could have been at your grandchildren's weddings. I wish you could have met their spouses. You'd have been so pleased, and so reassured. You wanted nothing less than complete love and devotion for them and, from those wedding days forward, that's what they've had.

I wish you could see your three great-grandsons! I picture you holding them, laughing at their antics, looking at their photographs. I know you could find resemblances that have never occurred to the rest of us!

And I wish you were here for Daddy. He needs you still, as he always did. No one understands him as you did, though it's not from lack of effort on our parts! Whether it's making the bed, folding underwear, or loading the dishwasher, he unintentionally reminds me that your ways were best. You felt both relieved and a little guilty to leave first. You didn't want to say it, but I knew-- strong as you were-- you didn't want to live without him. For your sake, I'm grateful that you didn't have to.

I'm crying as I write and, though you didn't want me to mourn forever, you would have understood. You knew about grief, just as you understood love and family. . . . . and birthdays! They're all part of life, our lives, and denying any of them is impossible.

So, happy birthday. . . . to us!

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