While the rest of the world still thinks it’s April 6th and is sending me birthday greetings from far and wide the dawn is breaking on a very different kind of celebration for me. The 39th anniversary of my Mothers passing.
It’s always been a conundrum celebrating the excitement of my birthday with the bittersweet of my mothers death.
I can remember so vividly my dad and step mother talking with me about the arrangement to fly across the country for my mothers funeral and me insisting I didn’t want to know about it. Who wants to talk about death on the day of their 11th birthday.
What I love about living down under is that even though the sun has set on April 6th here, it continues on in other parts of the world and the spilling over of my birthday into a second day, means I just get to keep celebrating. Before I know it its April 8 and tragedy, loss and all the other associated emotions are merely faded memories.
That doesn’t mean I don’t mark the moment, I just don’t let it cast a shadow over the excitement of a new year ahead, the challenges to overcome, the new friends to make and all the exciting places to go.
This year is a little more special than others.
I’ve been here 50 years, nearly 40 of those without my mother. How has time moved so fast? It seems like just yesterday that she was brushing my cheek to wake me up for school. Driving me to various dance lessons or scolding me for running away that time with my friends. I wish I could remember more about her, but the loss of a parent at 11 means the memories have grown fainter.
My dreams of her however, have stayed clear. Like the time she spoke to me when I was pregnant or her long embrace during my divorce. In my dreams her hair is long and her smile wide. When I look at my cousins daughters I see that smile. Beautiful, happy and expectant.
When I turned 40 I remember thinking that was it: my mother had only just made it past her own 40th birthday before passing and I was absolutely convinced the same fate awaited me. I’ve heard similar stories from friends… and how once you cruise past that date you feel invincible. That’s why my own feelings as I approached my 50th surprised me. I found myself asking questions like; have I done enough? Explored every corner of possibility?
Is this happiness and contentment I feel the beginning of the end?
Catching up with my grade school friend, she asked me what were my plans for my 50th? She was thinking of doing something daring. I admire her gumption but I’m definitely not a spills and thrills kinda gal. I wanted to do something simple, personal and meaningful. I wanted to be with my beautiful beloved in nature with time to reflect, watch the ocean and just be.
It was a truly special day, a secret beach, warm ocean, circling hawks, we stripped bare and dove in. Letting the ocean wash away the previous 49 years. Feeling purified we couldn’t stop remarking on the perfection of the day.
And I know that if my mom were alive today she’d be proud of the woman I have become.
Her legacy lives on in me.
with great respect…Rachel