Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Birthday Post.

It's my birthday today. I am, gasp, thirty three years old. I will tell you, it feels no different from thirty two or even twenty two, except for the fact that I have three more kids than then and my body is, ahem, a little softer than those days.

Birthdays are a crazy sort of day for me. I am ridiculous in my desire for my family members to have a great and memorable birthday. I am the mom/sister who plans a big meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, decorates the house, agonizes over the presents, and makes the homemade cake. I never feel like it is enough.

Growing up, my mom was a birthday fanatic. She did all of those things I do, but somehow managed to make it a special day. The best day. She created the birthday that I wish I could. And maybe my effort counts for something, but with her it was so effortless, and I am trying too hard.

My mom died fourteen years ago tomorrow. We got the call, on my nineteenth birthday, to come to the hospital. Her cancer, the chemo, the bone marrow transplant had so weakened her immune system she'd contracted pneumonia and they'd had to put her on a ventilator a week before. I'd thought it was temporary. It was, I guess, just not the way I'd hoped. My birthday morning they called and informed us she was seizing. We needed to come in and say goodbye.

It kind of ceases to be your birthday when you get a call like that.

My mom lasted the whole day. She held off until the next morning, something like a last gift to me. I tell you she made birthdays special, and I mean it. What would my birthdays have been if that had also been the day she died? Not that it matters, though. Me being me, I've managed to turn it into sap-arama and hate the day.

Fourteen years feels like yesterday, and sometimes I feel like I stopped right then. Stopped enjoying, or getting excited. Stopped living. This birthday was a little different. I've been feeling the itchiness that is healing over the last couple years, the idea washing over me that, though it wasn't better yet, it would or could be. In grand Kate overkill fashion, I spent today in lock-up mode, reading a book all the livelong day, but then pulled out a Mom and made my childhood birthday dinner of ravioli and garlic bread. And though I normally rather dislike chocolate, made myself a chocolate cake (another childhood staple). And then even more like my mom, I am well on my way to finishing a bottle of red. You know what? I'm okay with all of it. Not super, but okay.

Maybe that's progress.

Listening to: the ever wonderful Jeremy Enigk and his birthday present-worthy "World Waits"

xo. kb.


  1. I'm almost thirty two (next month). I panicked when I turned thirty. Then, for the next two years, I've had to stop and think for a few seconds when people ask how old I am. For some reason, after the thirty-year mark, it didn't seem to matter how old I was anymore (for the past three months I've actually had to remind myself that I'm turning thirty-two, not thirty-three. Which of course, then totally makes my day!) ;)

    As for the loss of your mother, a loss is a loss, regardless of if it was two days ago, a few months, a few years. And it's especially harder when the loss is triggered by a specific date or memory. Those ties are hard to break in our minds. Date + sadness = meaning/significance of date forever changed. =(

    So, sorry for that. And sorry that you're sad. Maybe celebrating her life AND yours on your birthday next year will make you feel a bit better.


  2. I totally just saw this comment. Sorry for the delay in response.

    The day wasn't a total wash, and it's weird that I felt anything at all. Grief and memories usually hit me at random, not on expected occasions. But thank you for your optimism and well-wishing.

  3. You know I've thought on this, as my brother was upset that my grandpa died on his birthday this year. But some part of me felt that it was almost special. I mean, it could have happened any day. But it happened that day. And they were close. He was my brother's hero. I know it's hard for Jim, but I do feel that is was special and significant to their relationship, however difficult it is for him to see that now, I hope he might feel honored by it someday. I think I would. But then again, I like Blue Oyster Cult.