(The post below was written on January 23, 2020, the day before what would be my mom’s last birthday. My mom passed on April 4, 2020.)
I went to the grocery store earlier today to get a cake, candles, balloons, and a card for my mom’s birthday tomorrow.
I selected everything carefully. I even had a woman in the bakery write “Happy Birthday, Mom” on the cake.
As I was checking out, the cashier happily said, “It looks like it’s somebody’s birthday!”
I said, “Oh yeah, my mom’s.”
She jokingly said, “That’s nice. Then I guess it’s 72 and not 27,” referring to the numbered candles I had picked out.
I laughed politely and said, “Yeah, although I’m sure she wishes it was the other way around.”
My next thought was that my mom was young and healthy when she turned 27. She could walk and talk and feed herself. She could take a shower and dress herself. She could make decisions and have conversations. She would have been celebrating her next birthday, not her last one.
My mom wasn’t even my mom yet when she turned 27.
I wanted so badly to tell the cashier, “This is going to be her last one. 72 will be her last birthday.”
But, I didn’t. I held it in.
And then I realized, it doesn’t matter if it’s her last one. I can make it her best one. It doesn’t have to be sad and awful. It can still be happy and fun.
We are celebrating 72 years of her life. There are a lot of people who don’t make it that far. We are lucky to still have her. I am lucky to be here to celebrate with her.
I don’t have to do this. I GET to do this.
I don’t have to be here. I GET to be here.
Today I was just a normal daughter buying a cake and candles and balloons for her mom’s birthday.
Tomorrow I will be just a normal daughter singing “Happy Birthday” to her mom.
Make no mistake, this will be her last birthday. But it is still her birthday.
Next year will probably look much different. So instead of trudging through the day all sad and mopey tomorrow, I’ll try to cherish every moment.
I’ll be a normal daughter celebrating her mom’s birthday just this one last time.