I cried on my 30th birthday after I called my parents and neither one of them mentioned it.
I was living far away at the time, so I couldn’t see them. And although my dad had texted me “Happy Birthday” that morning and sent me a card, I was crushed that neither one of them said anything about my birthday when I called them.
That wasn’t the first year my mom forgot my birthday. I think that was my 28th or 29th, but honestly, I don’t even remember it now. As much as it hurt the first time she forgot, I became used to it over time, even numb to it.
I do, however, remember my 30th because it was such a milestone birthday. And I cried that day feeling like both of my parents had forgotten. Of course, that wasn’t completely true, but it still hurt.
I wanted them to make a big deal out of it. I wanted them to sing “Happy Birthday” to me. I wanted them to celebrate with me.
I knew my mom had no idea it was my birthday and I knew my dad didn’t want to upset her by reminding her. I had always felt the same way. I never wanted to make my mom upset when she realized she had forgotten her own daughter’s birthday. I never wanted her to feel bad that she didn’t get me anything. So, I never reminded her it was my birthday.
Eventually, I got tired of spending my birthday feeling sad and sorry for myself. I stopped spending the day waiting for my mom to remember and then getting upset when she never did. I started reminding her it was my birthday and reassuring her that it was okay if she didn’t get me anything because all I wanted was to spend the day with her.
This is the first year I won’t be able to do just that.
Although I have spent many birthdays without my mom, this is my first official one without her. This is the first time I won’t get to see her or call her or FaceTime with her.
Oddly enough, I don’t feel sad at all. In fact, this feels much easier than spending another birthday watching her suffering, having no idea that it’s my birthday or that she’s the one who gave birth to me in the first place.
Even though my mom is no longer here, I know I will never really spend another birthday without her because she’s always with me now, by my side and in my heart. I feel her every day. Probably now more than ever.
So as I turn another year older today, I can hear her singing to me. I can hear her celebrating with me. I can hear her cheering me on. I can feel her pushing me into this next chapter of my life.
To go and do and live.
To be her legacy.
And honestly, I’ve never felt more alive.