Happy Birthday, Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday.

She would have been 63 today.

It’s really challenging to celebrate a birthday of someone who seriously, by my math, should still be here.

But she’s not.

There’s no manual on how to grieve for a parent or someone you love. Actually, that might not be true. I’m sure there are plenty of books in that section of the library, but grief doesn’t follow a pattern, at least not in my experience.

Losing my mom has felt like losing an essential body part. Like someone cut off my arm, or several of my toes.

Sure, it’s been awhile, and I’ve learned how to deal with my new body, but I’ll always be without that body part.

I think about Mom often. She died in 2013, and has already missed so much of our lives. She missed our weddings. She never even got to meet Andrew, Caitlin’s husband (although she would have LOVED him). She didn’t meet Clara (but again, I’m certain she would have loved her).

I have her dishes. I took them out of the house in lieu of registering for dishes when I got married. She loved those dishes! They’re Fiesta Ware, and she bought her set in individual pieces rather than sets. So they are “rainbow” and they’re so much fun.

I don’t know if she loved spring because her birthday is right at the beginning of it or if that was some sort of amazing cosmic coincidence, but she loved her birthday and she LOVED spring.

She used to call me when she saw crocuses in late February/early March. “The world is waking up!” she’d say, excited.

She loved color. She turned mundane afternoon errands into rainbow-seeking adventures. There’s a time in spring (and a lot of other seasons in the Pacific Northwest!) when the rain stops, the sun starts peaking out, and rainbows come out of hiding. It’s magical. Far more magical than the “partly cloudy” or “partly sunny” designations we heard on the weather report.

Her birthday was our unofficial start of spring. That’s when she’d get flowers from the farmers market, get down on her hands and knees, and start digging. Later in her life, when she wasn’t able to get down on her own hands and knees, Caitlin would plant her plants for her.

Impatients in the huge cement basket.

A fuchsia in the hanging basket (whoa, thanks spellcheck, that word is NOT spelled how I thought it was!). A second fuchsia in another basket. A planter on either side of the driveway.

And that was just the front yard.

She loved tulips and daffodils (daffies, she’d call them) and had them on her table the entire season. She planted her own tulips and daffies, but always bought them for the table, too.

So today, on her birthday, I’m getting flowers. Even though we leave in a little more than two weeks.

Dad and Caitlin are here. Andrew comes tonight.

We’ll go to the farmers market tomorrow.

Maybe even the tulip festival.

It might not be warm enough to do something on the patio.

That’s the crapshoot of having an April 6th birthday.

She loved the sun. She, more than anyone else in my family, would LOVE having a patio chair by my new pool in my new house. She’d buy herself a fluffy towel and leave it in Chandler. She’d have a special pair of flip flops. Charms for her wine glass.

I miss her every day, and today I’m doing Sharon O’Malley things in her honor. I’ll tell Clara all about her grandma, who I think would have wanted to be called Nana, just like her own mom. I’ll tell stories she’s too young to understand. I’ll dress her in something appropriate for once.

If you miss my mom too, you can join me. Search for rainbows. Embrace mismatched dishes. Drink a glass of dry Sauvignon Blanc (no thanks for me, I’ll pass). Have snacks for dinner. Dips and cheese. Get flowers. Put them on your table.

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