It was my daughter’s 4th birthday this weekend. Amidst all the celebrating, the husband and I recounted those early days of hope and wonder at the little life making her presence known from the start. When I found out I was pregnant I didn’t dare tell anyone about it. For years I had tried to get pregnant, only to experience miscarriage and shattered dreams. There were also girlfriends of mine, who LOVED pointing out that they had no issue with fertility nor pregnancies, and callously reminded me of how blessed they were while I was pouring my heart out in the grief only known to those who have failed and lost.
Yet here she is. The sunshine that warms my heart. In her four year old glory of intelligence, curiosity, selfishness, and tenacity. With her love of pink, ballerinas, working in the garden with her daddy, and fashions. How beautiful, extraordinarily beautiful she is! I offer up prayers of thanks and pleas for a lifetime of happiness, love and good health to her. May she always be assured of my love and understanding, of my undying loyalty and unwavering support.
As for me, I pray that I will guide her in wisdom, in love and in truth. And that I will be able to afford all those fashions she has her eye on. Happy birthday darling girl! I love you to the end of the universe and back.
This is a re-post from last year on this day. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE you mom!!! Happy Birthday!!!!!!
It is early morning, the house is quiet, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee and my thoughts, looking out the window at the snow falling and swirling every time a gust of wind veers it off its vertical course. The snow is deep, probably around two feet, and it hasn’t stopped descending. While I was loving it days ago, I feel it’s about time it stopped.
Today is my mom’s birthday. I did not need to read through my journals -although I did read a whole lot yesterday- to recapture the emotions I have been going through the last four years. Since childhood the dynamic energy of our family has been held together by this peaceful, calm and loving woman. She has sacrificed her youth to us, mothering, cooking, making peace, taking us places, admonishing tenderly when we needed it, teaching us songs, reciting poetry, raising five kids with strong personalities, to be kind, to be loving, to be polite, to love God, to think for ourselves and not give in to the peer pressure around us. Reminding us that mother, father, sister, and brother are one’s true best friends. She has been silly when we were silly, cheerful when we were cheerful, encouraging when we were sad, no matter how inconsequential (from an adult perspective) our hurts.
As we reached adulthood and started families of our own, she gathered us back home on Sundays, cooking up a storm, waiting on us, holding and playing with the grandchildren so we could eat while the food was hot. She babysat on weekends so that the five of us kids with our spouses could go out to dinner together. She babysat during the week when we were in school or at our jobs, caring for and loving her grandchildren with the same patience and dedication she had shown us.
And then cancer struck. Out of nowhere, no indication. It took my breath away, and I, who had believed myself strong and optimistic and unafraid, couldn’t stop crying and began to fear every phone call and every shadow. I became moody and short-tempered and found fault with the littlest, most unimportant thing. I am sure I was a nightmare to my husband and my son. And for the first time in my life, I blamed God. How could He do this to her? To her?? I could name two dozen people who deserved it. But her? What had she done?
Sensing the pain and disillusionment of her children, she stood strong and unwavering in her faith in God. She’d never complain, not even when the chemotherapy and radiation left her weak and pale and trembling. Not even when she lost her hair and her eyebrows and her eyelashes. When every breath she took must have hurt her to the core and every step was an exertion. While her heart must have cried out to God and possibly to my father, she was her faithful, encouraging self to the rest. She knew how frangible we were.
I cringe when I reflect upon my immaturity. She, who had encouraged me for years and years, could barely get any words of encouragement from me. I was too afraid to linger on her illness. I was too afraid I’d come undone. I couldn’t find the right words. I didn’t know if the right words existed. Everything I came up with sounded empty and pathetic, a screen to keep the real feelings in. I didn’t even know what my real feelings were, other than a jumbled up and chaotic mess. Besides, I was busy being selfish and busy blaming God. I wallowed in self pity day after day, wondering what would become of me, were she to die. Wondering what would become of the relationship between my sisters and brothers and father. She was the glue between the parts, the filling between the cake.
The winds of despair blew me in many directions. I reflected about the church I had been brought up in and how it had become a millstone around my neck with its formulas and laws so intent on punishment. I fell victim to my newfound occupation of holding everyone but myself responsible. That inner voice that I had always attributed to God, had become less and less dependable. All the things it was telling me seemed to be meant for someone else. Angrily, I just stopped listening. And then one day my mom said something I had often heard (yes, even in my head): God rains His blessings on the just and the unjust, and we have to be strong in our faith and take the good as well as the bad. It isn’t for us to question, and not because we don’t have the right, but rather because it keeps us from seeing the grace of God and the miracles He works in our lives.
I wish I could say I went home and got on my knees and prayed for repentance. I wish I could say that hope and courage and contentment and selflessness became such a part of my life that I never questioned God anymore. But I didn’t fall on my knees. And, I didn’t become a better person. Instead I became angrier at God, and (I’m ashamed to admit this) even at her, for saying such simplistic things. It was all well and good for someone to dole out the advice, especially if there had been no major suffering in that person’s life, but how could she just sit back and believe it? And not just believe it, but repeat it?
Yet, my mother is a wise woman. She knew what she was doing, she felt my uncertainties and my need to be uplifted. She knew those words would slowly work their way under my thick skull and turn me in the right direction. She has unwavering faith in God to hold her up and knew that I was lacking. Slowly faith has worked its way back in.
But it isn’t easy. Even now, day by day, I have to remind myself. To pray. To hope. To lift up my head and stop focusing on the mud and dirt around me. To stop looking for faults in others while just noticing the good in me. Sometimes all I can offer to God is a please or a thank you, because words fail. My mom’s health has improved. The peace within me has increased. The love between us all has deepened.
I love you mom. More than I can possibly express in words or deeds. For all that you were and you are and you will be. I love you and thank God for each day we are together. Happy Birthday!
Aren’t birthdays exciting? That wonderful day which comes but once a year is truly the one time each of us gets spoiled. And if we don’t, we should. I always get a rush of unexpected happiness when my birthday comes around. My lovely hubby and darling babies know just what to do to make it extra nice. And then of course, my wonderful friends remember me with fondest wishes. I float on this love and attention from the moment I open my eyes until I go to sleep.
One of the most amazing things about starting this blog, was meeting so very many like-minded people. Each and every one of you has become a dear friend, and I am happy that you’ve selected me to become a friend of yours as well. I have often cried, laughed, and smiled at memories resurrected through the sharing of your stories, and I hope you all continue to share your fascinating lives, adventures and advice with me and other readers for years to come. And for all of you who read my blog and don’t comment, thank you too, for silently offering your support and friendship. It is greatly appreciated.
I wish I could celebrate this first birthday of my blog with a huge feast, and all of you in attendance. We’d make merry far into the night, ensconced in lovely gilded chairs, dining by candlelight. Wouldn’t that be fun? But since passing together such an evening is physically impossible, I’m settling with not one, but two giveaways, to show my appreciation to you, my fabulous friends. Thanks for the memories!
Unfortunately, the only way this works is if you leave a comment. So stop on by and don’t be shy. I’d love to get to know all of you. Comment on any post until Monday the 9th of November to be entered into the drawing.