Tomorrow is April 7th, or what would have been my mama’s 55th birthday.
Each year, the few days leading up to April 7th are strange and sad. I always have dark and emotional dreams in the week leading up to her birthday. My anxiety peaks and I generally feel like a mess. I experience a mix of emotions, centred around sadness, regret, and nostalgia about the good old days. The days when the simplest things would bring our family so much happiness. The days when we would have a nice dinner, tell jokes, and then have my mom’s favourite chocolate mousse cake. The days when she would open gifts and say with her usual warm smile and modest soft-spokenness, “you shouldn’t have”. The days when I always wished I could have gotten her more.
The first birthday in the year after she died was the strangest. I remember thinking how weird it is that when you die, everyone suddenly ignores your birthday. No one cares anymore. Or if they do, they don’t say it to your loved ones. Do they think it will make us sad? Do they realize that for us, it’s still April 7th, our mother’s birthday, even though she herself is not on this Earth anymore?
Every other April 7th since I could remember, our house would be ringing with calls from friends and family wishing my mama a happy birthday. Having moved to the other side of the world away from all the friends and family she’s ever known at 33 years old, my mom loved those calls. They made her feel special and loved and rooted in something bigger than our little family, the three of us, in Canada.
It’s a really difficult day. Being a new mother myself, I feel an extra sensitivity this year. But, I have made the commitment to celebrate my mom’s birthday every year. Why?
Because no matter how sad it makes me, it’s an acknowledgment of her life and her legacy. If it wasn’t for her birthday, mine would not exist. And neither would that of my biggest, most beautiful blessing, my baby girl.
I’ve been talking to a few friends of mine who are also motherless daughters about what they do on their mothers’ birthdays. Some go for dinner, some have quiet time and talk to their moms, some tell stories with family… I love hearing about the different traditions. We will go to one of her favourite restaurants and have dinner in her honour. That’s our way of feeling close to her. I’ll pick out a special bouquet of her favourite Spring flowers.
How do you honour your deceased loved one on their birthday?