“Grief starts to become indulgent, and it doesn’t serve anyone, and it’s painful. But if you transform it into remembrance, then you’re magnifying the person you lost and also giving something of that person to other people, so they can experience something of that person.”
Oh, there you are again. I dare to say hello. It’s been awhile since we’ve connected, hasn’t it? Dark. Looming. Painful. You always linger longer than I ask and show up uninvited. I expect you during the holidays and know you’ll show up like clockwork towards the end of July, but deciding to pop up this week without warning was not the kind of surprise I was hoping to be gifted with.
Tomorrow is my 34th birthday. To be honest, it’s one of those “meh” birthdays. 34 isn’t exactly the most exciting age so I’ve quietly prepared by planning a low-key party with close friends and counting my blessings for all I have in my life.
Yet despite this knowledge of all I have, the last few days have also been filled with sporadic tears and a heavy heart. There’s a cloud lurking over my soul doing it’s darndest to hurt me and make me feel a void. Oh grief, you’re a cruel one and an unforgiving one.
I drove to work today like any other day and tears hit my eyes out of the blue. No instant memory to spark this, no song on the radio, nothing but the thought of a birthday and the woman who made them so special.
It’s strange how grief presents itself. Humans are such creatures of habits. Though years have passed since I spent a birthday with my mom and four years have passed since she’s even been here on this earth to wish me a happy one, there’s something in my body and mind that knows this week is different without her presence. I miss the timely mailed birthday card filled with $25 that I received every year. I miss the phone convos and the telling her of my party plans and the worry in her voice to be safe but to enjoy and be sociable with friends. I miss showing off my birthday outfit and her telling me how pretty I am. (Thanks Mom, you have to say this. But no really, thanks and don’t stop with the compliments, I eat them up). I miss the future plans I expected her to be a part of and the years that she should have enjoyed in blissful retirement. I miss the future babies I hope to have and the Grandma she would have relished in being.
I’ve battled grief since she passed. Everyone knows that. I ignored it. I drank it. I fought it. I kept it. I never found the right way to meet it and never gained the control I needed to leave it. I know now, in these growing moments of wisdom, that all I can do is accept it. Allow it in, invite it to sit down with me (and eat the six doughnuts I decided to purchase today because you can eat your feelings, you know) and when the feelings have found their place, I’ll softly let it move through me until the next moment of remembering is required.
There’s a saying: “Grief is the price we pay for love.” And to take this quote and flip it around, then how fortunate are we, was I, to ever be able to feel such a monumental amount of love? Grief is no friend, but grief is a teacher. The lessons that unfold from allowing ourselves to be broken open by grief are filled with the capacity to be more vulnerable, thoughtful and lovingly present if we let it.
I invite you to consider your capacity for joy, love, grief, and pain. Today. Now. Prior to the time you have to because it’s forced upon you. Take the time today to tell someone you love them, miss them or how much they mean to you. Remind yourself of all that could one day be lost, but more importantly how lucky you are for all that you have in the present.
Tomorrow I will celebrate fulfillment, peace and happiness surrounded by best friends and my true love. I will open my heart and life to this 34th year I am entering and I will remember and smile thinking of how lucky I was to be gifted the mom I had. I will toast to all she was and thank my lucky stars for the undeniable amount of love she gave and the unconditional love that remains.