OK. I just wrote a post detailing the big events from my birthday. I encourage you to read it, or else some of what I right here won't necessarily make sense. I wanted to take a moment to talk about what my birthday was like without Mom. I've had a couple of days to think about things, and I've had some revelations.
First, I have to reveal to you one of my biggest wishes on my birthday. I wanted a visit from Mom. I know it sounds odd, but I wanted to dream about her. I'm a big believer in the afterlife, and I firmly believe that dreams about the deceased are not just dreams. They're visitations. Since Mom passed, I've had 3 dreams about her. I won't get into the details of each one, but let me just say that I can only make sense out of one of them. Anyway, that's what I wanted. I wanted a dream. I wanted to dream about doing all of our usual birthday traditions with her: shopping in Williamsburg, pumpkin cheesecake at Barnes & Noble, stupid, silly birthday songs.
Unfortunately, I woke up the morning of my birthday to the sad realization that I'd had no such dream. I felt sad and alone, and that feeling very easily could have continued throughout the day except for some wonderful people in my life.
First there was Hans. Hans really took care of me that day. He comforted me when I was crying, and didn't make me feel bad about crying. He stayed with me all day. He made sure I felt well-loved. I don't think Mom would have gone if I didn't have Hans. She knew I'd be OK.
Second there were my running buddies. I forgot to mention in the last post, but when they realized they'd missed running with me on my birthday, they stopped by the kennel with cupcakes (I ended up with a lot of cupcakes that day). I didn't get to see them, but it was so nice to know they cared that much about me. Like I said before, I wasn't upset with them or anything. By the end of the day I was laughing over the whole thing, but that gesture was just beautiful.
Then there was the kennel staff. They didn't have to do anything. I certainly didn't expect anything of them. Such a simple gesture, though, made me feel so wonderful. It's lonely owning a business. Most people make friends and connections with coworkers. I don't have coworkers, I have staff, and it can often be difficult to separate out friend from employee. It was nice to have them do something completely unasked for. Mom's love for me showed through them.
And then there was the client who brought me pumpkin cheesecake. I'm fairly certain he knew how much I love that cheesecake, and he knew that Mom and I always had at least one slice together, but I don't think he knew it was a birthday tradition. He didn't have to bring anything, yet he chose pumpkin cheesecake...from Barnes & Noble. That's when I first realized that Mom may be with me after all.
And there was the client who told me how much healthier I looked. I'm not sure she initially knew it was my birthday, and I know she had no clue I'd spent the morning crying, but she told me how tired I'd looked when I was caring for my Mom. She told me how much she wanted to be able to help because she was truly concerned for me. And she told me how much lighter I looked since Mom's passing. Of course, she knew that was the worst possible outcome, but she was happy I was under less stress. That's the one that took a little longer to sink in. It really didn't hit me until today. Mom died so that I could live.
I know it sounds weird, but I know the course we were on. We were all slowly dying. I'm not certain I fully understood it at the time, but I definitely understand it now. We were under so much stress. We could never fully breathe. Something was bound to happen at some point. Either exhaustion or illness or something would have taken all of us. I think, to some degree (whether she consciously thought it or not) Mom may have let herself go. She grew tired of the fight, and she saw that we were struggling to continue to the fight, so she gave in.
To some degree, there's a good deal of guilt that goes with this. If I'd fought harder, if she'd known how much I was still fighting for her, would the outcome have been different? And trust me, I've had a lot of what if moments. But when I think of her passing as an act of love, a final act of love, things become a lot easier.
The morning of my birthday I felt sad and alone. By end of the day, though, when I was sitting with my family, I felt loved. I felt warm and relaxed. I didn't dream about Mom, but she was there the whole day. She was with me and will always be with me. It reminds me of a line from one of my favorite childhood movies, The Land Before Time. "I'll be with you. Even if you can't see me." I can't see her, but she's with me.