Today is my 38th birthday. Unlike every other birthday I have ever had, I will experience this day without my mother.
She has been gone 7 months now but it hurts as much as the day it happened. Every day I think about it. It haunts my existence. It makes me sad, and makes me cry like I’ve never cried before.
Still, I am lucky.
My mother gave me the greatest gift someone can give to another: life. Unlike any other human being on this planet, she held me inside her, for nine months I was closer to her than I ever could be to anybody else on earth.
But she didn’t let it end there. For the next 37 years she was my champion, my protector, my cheerleader, my spiritual guide, my hero and my mommy.
I’ve learned by speaking to friends, family, and complete strangers and in between just how lucky a guy I am.
Not everyone has the relationship with their mother that I had. What was just every other day for she and I was an unattainable ideal for so many other people out there. I’ve had people tell me, after reading my writing, that they wish they could have the relationship with their mom that I had with mine.
I knew she and I were close, she taking care of me for the bulk of my life – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – and me, taking care of her with the help of her sisters in the last three years of hers. But it helped to hear from the perspective of those on the outside just how close that was.
As an example, what happened on my birthday last year.
Keep in mind that by December of 2014, Mom had been in the hospital multiple times for multiple months on end, had been on dialysis, was on oxygen and had experienced atrophied muscles that caused her to be in a wheelchair for anything beyond walking around the house.
Yet she decided to throw me a surprise birthday party. Not just any other surprise either, but a Superman party. She, more than anyone else, knew about my lifelong obsession with Superman (she was the one who dutifully took me to the comic book store, waiting in her car for hours on end as I indulged my habit for years on end), and so she got my cousin-in-law who is a baker to make me a Superman cake, while we also had Superman plates and party favors.
It may sound silly to the outside, but that was just Mom – with the help of my Aunt Angela – doing somehting she knew would bring a wide grin to my face on my special day.
She always put a spotlight on my birthday throughout her life, whether it was a house full of kids or just she and I going out for a nice dinner (steak, like I love).
I as usual would take it too far. I would count down to my birthday, knowing that Mom would reliably make a big deal out of it. When she would joke and say as an adult I would have to stop making such noise about this day, that December 6 is not about me going on and on about MY BIRTHDAY, I would laugh her off and tell her it was all her fault. She made a big deal out of it, so I took that as a cue to always make a big deal out it.
Today is my first birthday of many to come (I hope) where my Mom isn’t physically here on earth with me. But today is also the anniversary of the greatest present I could ever receive (even better than Nintendo but it’s close) – my life. And that is one she gave to me, and I carry her in my heart every day in thanks. She taught me how to love, and everything good I ever have and will do is thanks to her and the gift she gave to me.
Happy birthday to me, and I love you Mom. Every day, more and more.