on her birthday, again

Dear Kristina,

This morning I lit the candles for the first time since last winter.  Or maybe it was spring – it was a long, dark spring.

The days have been getting shorter for months, but I usually don’t notice until around our birthdays.  That is when our glorious September weather usually turns to shit, so it’s a good thing we have much to celebrate.

The wind and rain tore branches and leaves from the trees the last two nights. There is green shrapnel all over the yard. But no fresh apples – that windfall is denied to Kaylah until they ripen further.

Ed has taken to plucking them from the tree for her.  Kaylah asks to go out every five minutes all day long – Ed thinks she is checking hoping for more apples.

I was not prepared for today to feel lonely.

People have asked me how I’m doing with you gone, if I’m crying my eyes out.  The fact is, I am not. (Well, I have, but only briefly. Long enough to leave mascara trails on Ed’s t-shirt. It got better.)

And it’s not because I don’t miss you.  I do.  Every single day, I notice in a hundred ways that you are not here. (That dishwasher doesn’t empty itself, as you well know.)

I was prepared for that. For 19 years, I have expected that a day would come when you would go to college, or travel, or get a job, and move out. (There were days when you were 13 or 14… oh, never mind.)

When parents do their jobs well, they are down-sized. That is the way of things – natural and good.

Since you’ve been at college, we have had Skype and Google chat, facebook and texting, and sometimes an old-fashioned telephone call, although it is clear that those are not your favourite.

We are far more connected than previous generations of college students and their parents. Some assure me that we are far more connected than many of this generation. I know this is a function of the closeness we have fostered for years. That did not always come easily, but we built it together.

I am grateful for this – for the years, for the connection, for the easy laughter between us.  Still, I am not prepared for this.  For this day. To be away from you on your birthday for the first time ever.

The day you were born held the most beautiful September blue sky, and with your absence today, the rain and dreary blanket of grey clouds seem fitting.

I won’t let it weigh my heart. I am sad to be away from you today, not able to celebrate with you personally – I won’t deny those feelings – but  I also won’t let the sadness shadow the brilliant love I have for you, or the wish I have for you to enjoy a beautiful birthday.

Celebrate and be celebrated, for you are a wonder. Savour this time, and tell your stories. Always tell your stories.

Also, here’s a dog. In your room. With some laundry.

Love,

~mama, madre, yomama, me

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