Little Leo is 3!
It’s was a very roller coaster ride of a week. It began with the first anniversary of my mother’s death. It was actually worse than I thought it would be. I was just beginning to remember my mother in good health again; a beautiful soul that will live on forever, not a tired, failing body gasping for every conceivably last breath.
I went to bed the night before and prayed not to be awake to see the clock hit 5:56 a.m.. I never want to see that time again, but particularly on that day. I managed to dodge it that morning, but I was awake every hour of the night at some point, and each time I opened my eyes, I saw my mother suffering and struggling for that last breath to bring her some peace, and me a devastation unlike anything I foolishly thought I was prepared for. And I ached and grieved all over again, all day long, as if it had just happened. And just to add salt to the wound, my 92 year old grandfather had a heart attack on this day. It’s no coincidence. He wants to go be with his daughter, I know he does. But he is still here, and he is still mourning. It is a horrible day and I find it hard to believe that it will ever be anything but.
Four days after my mother’s death comes my mother’s birthday, right on time. It truly feels like a gift from God; his way of telling me to cheer up! Yes, her death was terrible, but her life was precious. And her 58 years of a well served life cannot be overshadowed by one year of a slow and painful death. And on her birthday, her life as my mother played like a lovely slideshow before my eyes. She was healthy and beautiful and never nagged me a bit (thank you again Lord, for the selective memory).
Two days after my mother’s birthday, comes my little Leo’s birthday. I am so excited to celebrate my childrens’ birthdays that I am always up before them, eager to spend the day meeting their every desire. Yes, I spend every day waiting on my children, but birthdays are about their wants, not their needs (it makes for a rude awakening the following day when the moment has passed and mean mommy has returned).
But this one is even more important, because as hard as I try, I cannot remember much about Leo’s second birthday last year, just 6 days after my mother died. It’s all a blur and it’s terrible and I am so wrought with guilt that it takes everything I have not to buy him the $2,000 John Deere tractor that he falls in love with at the tractor supply store on this birthday morning. Thankfully, he is equally delighted by the John Deere hat we got instead.
This year, however, I am so captivated by this excited little 3 year old who has no idea how amazing he is or how much joy he has brought me that I have almost recovered from the re-death of my mother just a few days earlier (until next year). And I am thankful for Leo’s Poppy when I see him sitting across the room at the birthday party because I know that he still brings Grandma with him everywhere he goes. She wouldn’t miss this.
And now, it has all passed. I am still trying to sort through all of the emotions. Even as I reflect on it here and now, I have cried and sobbed and smiled and giggled. Poppy made a DVD of what I am sure is a beautiful tribute to my beautiful mother, and gave it to those of us who cherished her most. It was a Christmas gift. I haven’t watched it yet for fear of losing myself in my tears and heartache. I had told Darren that we would watch in on her birthday (he’s ready whenever I am, to be my rock). I couldn’t do it. I’ll try again on Mother’s day, but that too is now a day full of ups and downs and inner conflicts.
Most importantly, little Leo is 3. We had a perfect day that I will never forget, and almost good enough to allow me to forgive myself for allowing his 2nd birthday to be overshadowed by my mother’s death. In the reassuring words of hope and healing offered by my favorite minister at my mother’s funeral, “the sun WILL rise”. My children are my sunshine.