I’ve been thinking about past birthdays. The ones you made so special... Trips to the circus, brand new digital watches, white cakes with pink flowers. After I lived on my own you and daddy would call early in the morning and sing me awake with a laughter filled version of Happy Birthday. We’d talk about my plans for the day and you’d remind me that I wasn’t really a year older until the time of my birth: 9:30 am.
After I became a mother I learned how different those birthdays must have been for you. Every one so bittersweet. Spending the day remembering every stage of labor and reliving the sweet relief of finally having your baby in your arms. I learned that those morning calls were as much for you as they were for me. They were your way of reconnecting with the baby girl grown up.
Last year my birthday was a disaster. A cancelled dinner and a hurried visit tainted the taste of a store bought cake. I scolded myself at the time: “You’re turning 42. You don’t need your mama to celebrate with you.” But I did. And I still do. I’m turning 43 and I need my mama to celebrate with me.
I wish I could have a do over of last year. I’d throw my arms around you and thank you for the cake. I’d be thankful for the short visit instead of wishing for more. I’d ask you to tell me the story of my birth one more time. We’d laugh about daddy talking cars with the nurse during your contractions. We’d compare labors and reminisce about you being there for Will’s birth. I’d make you take a birthday picture with me ignoring your pleas to put the camera down. We’d light my clown candle -the one you saved from my first birthday and lit every single birthday after that. I’d savor every single second I had with you.
I imagine Saturday will be a day full of mixed emotions. Celebrating with my babies but missing you. That seems to be the way of things right now. Being truly happy in the moment, but always having a nagging feeling that a piece of me is missing. I have my clown candle and I’ll be sure to light it. It hasn’t missed a birthday yet. And even though I know wishes are silly, I’ll be thinking of you when I blow it out.