Happy Birthday, Mama.

I’ve been thinking about what I would say in this post all morning. I’ve always been better about writing my feelings than actually saying them. But some things are just hard, plain and simple. Some days are exhausting.

There’s a perfect trifecta in my life now. It’s like the Bermuda triangle for my happiness. First, Mother’s day. Then your birthday. Then, finally, when I finally start to feel a little okay again, there’s the day you left us. Three dates following each other, only a couple of weeks apart. Mid-May through the end of June will never be the same for me. But then again, neither will any other months. Because you’re gone. And because you never stop missing your mama.

Being a parent to a little girl has changed me this past year. I always felt like I had soaked in all of Jude’s baby-hood. I felt like I had really enjoyed it but sometimes I wonder if I really knew how so young. I wonder if I missed a lot being sad, too. Because once you were diagnosed with cancer when he was two, a lot changed.

With Hattie, I am attached in a way I didn’t know was possible. She will be in my position someday. I don’t think these things lightly. Someday she will lose me, like I lost you. And I hope to God that is a very, very long time from now when I’m frail and gray. I hope that she’s holding my hand and I’m ready. If anything, you taught me how much of a privilege it is to grow old. I never understood that before I lost you. And now, when I see people complain about getting older, it makes me a little mad inside. Because how could they complain about something so wonderful? Not everyone gets the chance to become a grandparent or a great grandparent. Not everyone gets wrinkles and white hair. These are GOOD things.

I realize now, looking back on the years you were sick, how different you were. You became way less worried with what people think and started speaking your mind. You told people you loved them. You encouraged me to be fearless. Although the cancer was the devil and took you away from us, it also gave you clarity on what really was important. And in turn, it did the same for me.

This morning, I went to the grocery store searching for a cake, balloons, and flowers. They didn’t have balloons I liked. They didn’t have sunflowers. I’ll have to get those later today. But they had a beautiful o

range cake with edible pearls on the top that reminded me of you. Tonight, we will celebrate you turning 59 in Heaven. It’s hard for me to find ways to honor you but this is one thing that we will do every year. I promise. Jude will make you a card and we will send it up to heaven. And we will have cake and celebrate your life because damn it, it deserves to be celebrated. YOU deserve to be celebrated.

I am lonely sometimes without you. I feel stretched thin. I want to hug you so much. Sometimes a girl just really needs her mom, no matter how old they are. I need you still and it’s just not fair. Dad still needs you. Jude still needs you. Michael still needs you. We ALL still need you. Needing is so one-sided and frustrating. I remember hearing “you can’t always get what you want” so many times growing up. That phrase never really meant anything until you left us. I really can’t have what I want anymore. Every celebration is tinged with the reminder that you aren’t there. My mom will never see me marry the man of my dreams or birth the rest of my children. That’s something I’ll probably never get over. You should be there.

I try very hard to believe in the idea that you’re still with us and still guiding me. It’s the only way that I feel better. I like to think that when we get married next year in Italy, that you’ll be watching, a glass of wine in your hand toasting us as we kiss. I can see your smile. You really wanted this for us. You knew that Jordan was the man I needed. You blessed us. I am so thankful that you were able to give your blessing. I’m so glad you knew that we were engaged before you left us. I chose Europe for us because you wished you had traveled more. I’ll keep traveling for you, mama. I’ll see the world, and I’ll show my kids the world. You both deserve that.

I know we can’t be together today but my wish is that you know how much we love you. I hope you’re surrounded by friends and family who made the journey into the next life before you. I hope there’s cake and hugs and happy tears. I feel panicky when I think that this is your 59th birthday and you aren’t here. You left us much too young. But I have comfort too, knowing that the suffering is over. I hope that you feel your youngest in this new life you have. I hope you always remember how much we love you, and that we will never stop missing you. Because you’re a better person than I could ever be… and I hope to live up to all of your expectations. I hope to make you proud. This next year – for you – I will do everything in my power to stay grateful for this life you gave me.

I love you for always. Happy birthday in heaven, Mama. <3