It was exactly one year ago today that I boarded a plane back to my sweet Mama to hug her, full of certainty that all would be okay. Truth be told, somewhere beneath the conscious state of life there lied a hazy cloud of fear and a true clarity that if hope could be suffocated I would have certainly accomplished that with how tightly I was holding onto it. That was the longest three hours of my life. It’s strange how the body is what is oftentimes associated with restlessness when confined to a small space; but, the mind can be just as restless when equally as limited. What I discovered that day is that it is also possible for the heart to take up so much room in your chest that it becomes fitful as well.
In all honesty, my memory of the day is much more like a snapshot of events displayed in a photo album. I often wonder if in order for the mind to hold onto important experiences during stressful times, it must reduce the impact of information to snapshots instead because the full documentary would be way too much to relive. I liken the day to a viewing with the old View Master from my childhood. I’m able to peer through the eye piece, clicking through each picture, but not recalling all of the little information in between each slide…..wiping a tear from behind the sunglasses shading my swollen eyes….hugging my sister at the airport….walking into the hospital….seeing my aunt and cousin approach in the hallway…the look of concern on my twin’s face…my brother holding hands with his lovely fiance…my Dad’s comforting embrace…my aunt’s beautiful blue eyes filled with worry…….Mama’s smile………Mama’s laugh………Mama’s strength…….Mama……..
The whole day is sealed in my memory this way, which is so out of the ordinary for me. My mind typically runs a reel of recollection, not simple snapshots. I can only guess that my mind, heart, and body have decided to work together to ensure I’m still standing throughout the constant highs and lows of reliving these days.
It does stand that some information is too close to the heart to even place down on paper. It’s as if it’s secured in a special spot that is only allowed access by those that experienced it together. I know the struggles my family is having during this time and find comfort in the notion that they truly understand every single snapshot that invades each of our hearts and minds during this recurrence of emotions and feelings of such great sadness. I also know that Mama is with me. I can feel the warmth of her presence and see her smile at the forefront of my mind. I will make it through this day….and tomorrow as well…and so on. My promise to myself is to let the tears flow when they come and the laughter bubble up as each snapshot clicks into clear view reminding me of the amazing mother that I was so very lucky to call my Mama.
My birthday weekend is coming to an end today. I was so worried throughout this entire month about how I might react on the actual day. Typically, I spend time prior to the day planning out what I’d like to do. I have always gone to the spa for at least one of the days. As well, I tend to have a large group of people over for a home cooked meal with champagne and cupcakes. On big birthdays I plan elaborate celebrations. But this year felt different. I was dreading it. I really did not know how I was going to react to the silence of Mom’s birthday wish. I was so used to her calling up and doing that typical thing that Mom’s do by reliving the day you came into the world. It just didn’t feel right. My friends kept asking me in the kindest of ways, “So what are we going to do?” I just kept stalling. I felt like I wanted to just sit on the couch the entire day in complete silence; but, that didn’t seem right either in light of how I typically enjoy my birthday. So I finally decided on keeping it small with friends I felt certain would follow my lead. I knew that this group of friends would either live it up with a bang…or just as easily lie down in the grass, eyes lifted to the sky, and cry with me.
I waited until the day before my actual birthday to spring the plan on my friends. I decided on an early breakfast with a leisurely drive through the vineyards and some wine tasting. The day would end with a visit to the Solvang Brewing Company for one of their infamous Viking Corn Dogs. As can be expected with this group, they leaped at the chance to join in on the day. Their support was expected, but their exuberance was intoxicating. I began to become excited about the day rather than pensive. These amazing women that I choose to live my life around took their most envied personality traits and simultaneously filled my little wounded heart with hope. They were enthusiastic, encouraging, supportive, flexible and leaping feet first into this uncertain day with me. I love them for that. I love that they pushed their lives aside to fill the hours of my day with a quiet reassurance that all would be okay.
Seeing as the majority of my day was planned out, I knew that I needed to save a piece of it for Mama. So in the wee hours of the morning, I headed out the door with my loyal companion, Marcello, for a much needed walk of remembrance, release of sadness, and recognition of why I even have a birthday. I made sure Mom’s playlist was set and I started my Birthday Walk! I cried through most of it, Marcello glancing up at me now and then to make sure I was okay. I began so early in the morning that I doubted anyone would even pass our path and if they had, I wouldn’t have even noticed or cared. This walk was for my own peace of mind and to fill a little hole in my heart with birthday memories.
I won’t go into detail about what exactly ran through my mind during that time, but my biggest hope is that Mama somehow heard me and knows how much I miss hearing her voice and long to hug her one more time. I wanted to thank her for giving me a reason to even need to celebrate my birthday. The only way I could imagine these celebrations filled with laughter and love is if somewhere along the path of my life someone else had shown me how important I was to even justify such observance. I thanked her for so many things that early morning and as I entered my home at the finality of my walk, the phone rang and Dad’s voice filled the air. The two people who brought me into this world unknowingly shared the exact same space and time on my birthday and this brought the greatest sense of tranquility to my day. It filled my day with the love I needed to move forward without guilt or sadness….and that is exactly what I did….I celebrated life that day!!
I think that sometimes we believe the doubt that rises in our minds, telling us that no one can understand what we are going through. It is one of those things that in our darkest moments manifests in our minds leaving us feeling alone and either sad or fearful. This video popped up on one of my social media sites and I felt it to be so authentic to how people feel in moments of doubt and what we should reflect on when those such moments arise in our lives.
Having A Bad Day? Here Are 46 Powerful Things You Should Really Hear.