Did you know that I find your birthday the most hardest of all the days to deal with? Not the anniversary of your death, or the many annual holiday dates that have passed since then. Not Mother’s Day, although since becoming a mother I have found it is much more bittersweet. Not even my own special milestone events such as graduating uni, our wedding or the birth of the girls, although they have been hard without you. No, your birthday is the one big slap in the face that reminds me that you’re not here. That you’ll never grow old and that what should have been your 59th birthday is actually the 17th year since time stood still for you.
It’s the little things that I notice in the lead up to your birthday that trigger the memories. Music mainly. I heard Garth Brooks’ song The River on Monday and the tears start to well. You loved that song. We played it at your funeral.
But now that you’re a grandmother to four, I find myself in sad contemplation of the future that was denied you. You never got to become a grandmother, or see my brother grow up. Never got to beam with pride at our achievements, or happiness when we celebrated life’s milestones. Never got to watch us chase our dreams or even have a chance of chasing your own. And whilst of course it is sad for us, it actually hurts my heart knowing how much you have missed.
Grief is a funny thing. I think society views grief as a linear process and that with time, it goes away and is forgotten. I used to think that. I think it suited my stunted emotional capacity to ‘get over’ your passing and get on with my life. But bubbling beneath the surface, I think that grief has always been there, unlocked by the arrival of these two beautiful little girls that you’ll never get to meet. That you’ll never get to know and love like we do. But this grief is not just about me. I grieve for what you have lost too. What you’re missing out on.
You would have been the most amazing grandmother. I actually stop and think some times what you would have been called. As kids, we always called both sets of grand parents by Nana and Pop but you don’t strike me as a Nana. Would you have been Grandma? No, I don’t think so. Perhaps something a little quirky would have suited you more – maybe Nanma would have worked? Isn’t it funny the silly places my mind goes?
There’s no question that I’m missing you a lot right now. I have been for the last few years if I’m honest. I don’t think that people would ever expect that I’m hurting as much as I am. After all, I’m the epitome of strength aren’t I? In fact, there’s probably only one person who would have any idea and that’s Mrs Mone. Mum, I wish you had’ve got the chance to meet her. You would have both hit it off I think.
I wonder what we would have done today had you been here. Would we have popped over and surprised you with some cake or would we be too far away for an impromptu birthday party? Either way, I’m sure the girls would have been excited that it’s your birthday and drawn you a birthday card. And if we were too far away for a visit, I’m sure you would have enjoyed a phone call with Miss B. Wherever you are now Mum, I hope you’re watching over us. I know you’d be proud of us, of the little families we’ve created and the lives we’ve made for ourselves. I only wish that you were still here to share it with us.