My Mom's birthday is this Saturday, July 16th. My parents (who were high school sweethearts) wedding anniversary is the following day; July 17th. It's a very meaningful time of year for our family.
Everyone who has been through a loss deals with anniversaries differently. Some like to be solemn. To take the time to reflect and mourn over the monumental loss that is inevitably felt even deeper on days like these. This will be our family's third birthday without my Mom. Each of us deals with it in our own way. The previous two years I have been learning what works for me; trying new ideas and thinking of ways I can best celebrate her.
For me, her birthday is a day to rejoice. I want the world to know, by my actions, the kind of soul my Mom had. As cheesy as it sounds, that's really the best way I can describe it. Of course I wish I could treat her to presents, bake her a cake, and sing happy birthday to her. But I like to think that if she was still around, what would make her the happiest to see?
Birthday 1 without her: My Mom was always involved with volunteering; whether it was through the brown bag bunch packing lunches in the church basement, leading our family to volunteer on Thanksgiving morning at the local soup kitchen, or being a chaperone for our summer mission trips down to Mexico. She always had a giving heart. I wanted to make sure that other people benefited on the anniversary of her birth. It took away some of my emptiness to fill it up with good deeds of helping others and it made me feel like her legacy was living on.
Birthday 2 without her: Falling on a weekday, I knew I would have been pretty much useless at work. So, I took a sick day and had a day dedicated to celebrating her. Spent the day biking around with a friend, enjoyed lunch on the water. Biked to a cute bakery where we bought a fancy cupcake in her favorite all chocolate decadent flavor. Settled at a nearby park in the middle of the city. With a fountain and pretty flowers all around, we lit a candle and sang happy birthday. It was just the sort of magical day that I know my Mom would have loved and it made me feel like I was honoring her memory.
Birthday 3-this year: Coincidentally, this day falls on a family get together at my cousin's house in Michigan. I am extremely close with all of my cousins on my Mom's side. We grew up within blocks of each other, we're all close in age and now we are scattered around the country. Get-togethers like this are getting rare the older we get and are treated with a lot of excitement and appreciation. Just the fact that most of us will all be together, in one place, sharing in good food, conversation and belly laughs, I know is exactly what my Mom would love. I plan to take a big cake where we can all gather around and sing happy birthday. Where the next generation of cousins will blow the candles out for my Mom, it will be wonderful.