The first week of May used to be completely joyful, I swear. It’s my birthday! It’s Mother’s Day!! Spring has sprung!!! Nothing better than babies and flowers and the blessing of another year to celebrate (and lots of exclamation points), right? I don’t know what the universe is telling me, but this time of year has overwhelmingly become the Bermuda triangle in my life.
Let’s back up.
Last year, on May 3rd, I celebrated my birthday. On May 6th, my Mom went into the hospital for an outpatient procedure. There was an issue that caused her to bleed out on the table, which led to a Code Blue. They brought her back, took her into surgery, and thus began her long, painful, slippery slope. Two days later was the anniversary of my sister’s death, which I commemorated by basically begging her spirit not to take our Mom from me yet. And then came Mother’s Day, which after the prior several days, was emotionally supercharged to say the least.
I say all this now that I’m through it like I’m just ordering breakfast (I’ll have a Code Blue, a bleed out, and a dead sister please. Oh! And coffee.) but if you’ve been accosted by any number of the above things, you know just how much of a jolt each of them can be individually, let alone stacked up in a matter of days.
So this year, on the cusp of that memory-filled week, I find myself feeling funky and pensive. It’s kicking off with an interesting birthday because when my sister died, she was 45 years old and her daughter was eleven. It hits home more now than ever before, because in a couple of days I’ll be 45 years old too, and Eleven is, well…eleven. Eleven going on 16, but that’s another post entirely.
I’ve been thinking a lot about where Laura was in her life when she died, where I was in mine, what we had in common, and where I am now that I’m as old as she was when she left us. It’s an ongoing monologue in my head, filled with unanswered questions, hypotheticals and regret.
And as I consider my life and everything that has been keeping my head and heart heavy, something has become very clear.
I spent my entire 44th year in emotional shackles.
Right after my birthday I had two days of decent, followed by seven long months of high-strung fear and fragility, where I fluctuated between worried, panicked and hysterical. Mom dying marked the end of that period, and also catapulted me into what has now been five months of wandering around in a grief-induced haze.
I think it’s safe to say that last year sucked balls.
I think it’s also safe to say that the universe is trying to open my eyes and shift my focus to something bigger. Or maybe something smaller. Or possibly just something ELSE.
Mom is gone, yes. I’m shattered by the loss, yes. I miss her every time I go to call her, yes. And when I call my Dad, leaving a message is nearly impossible after hearing her voice on their machine.
My sister is gone, yes. I am different than I would be if she hadn’t died, yes. I mourn the loss, and everything she’s missed, and everything I am missing about her, and it’s not lost on me that I am now where she was, at least in age and motherhood, when she died.
But. They are together. They are safe in heaven and they can see me and my niece and everyone else in the family from where they are.
Last year, I spent most of my time desperately trying to prolong someone else’s life.
This year, I think the universe/my Mom/my sister is telling me to spend most of my time trying to drum up a whole lot of happy.
I have the chance to do what my sister didn’t, which is see my daughter turn 12 while I enjoy my 45th year. I have the opportunity to respect my body, and love the life it holds, the lives it’s created, and the life I share with the traveling husband. I am able to celebrate, and while the past year has held more dread than party, it’s time to Footloose it up and start dancing again.
I will still worry, mostly about my sweet Dad, and a little bit about the impending birds and bees talk I need to have with the girls (GULP).
But I will try this upcoming week to see each milestone as a chance to quietly acknowledge, and then purposefully step forward from, the sadness and heartache they bring. It’s with me, but it’s no longer all of me. I think I need to start year 45 with a renewed Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose mentality.
Also, cake. And maybe a teeny hangover.
Happy birthday to me.