As she opened her birthday presents at the kitchen table, my mom broke down and cried this morning. They were both tears of happiness and tears of… something more. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but seemed almost like tears of nostalgia or thankfulness.
My brother bought her plane tickets to Denmark for her birthday. He sent them to her email this morning with a note that said ‘Happy Birthday, I’ll see you in two weeks”. The significance of this is that her granddaughter was born in May and she’s been itching to get over there to meet her grand-baby ever since. So now, the woman who thought she would never ever get to travel is off to Europe for the second time in two years. It’s safe to say that made her morning, and likely day/week/year.
The other presents we gave her were much smaller in comparison. Just little things that sort of fit into her world each day. A fishing pole for her days at the lake, a new summer outfit for if it EVER gets sunny around here, a rice cooker because she always complained of never having one but was too stubborn to go buy one.
After she’d opened the presents, though, she was still crying. After she’d seen her cake, she was still in tears. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, so I’d asked her what was wrong.
She quite literally broke down at the kitchen table this morning, right in front of me.
‘I’m remembering my bithday last year’, she said.
‘No doubt,’ I responded, thinking she was just reflecting on what has been a difficult year for her.
‘I was so sick last year. So very sick. And I was afraid to tell anyone and I was afraid to get checked out. I really should have gotten checked out in August and not in November when I did.”
I wrapped my arms around her as she sat in the chair and said ‘It’s okay, it all worked out okay’.
She went on to say ‘When they finally did give me my diagnosis, when I finally learned what was wrong, you know you go through that moment, that… ‘Am I going to make it to my next birthday’ frame of mind. And now I’m here and it’s so incredible and I wish I could go back in time and tell myself how incredible it feels and to tell myself it’s all going to be okay.’
See, she had never told anyone in my family that she was feeling sick until November. So this morning was a bit of a revelation for us. We may not always get along (rarely, actually) and we definitely don’t ever see eye to eye, but I’ve got an immense amount of pride in my heart for the woman. My mother is the strongest woman that I know. She started down cancer and she won. Now she’s here to celebrate a birthday, but also conquering the past twelve months.
And honestly, this birthday, I’m reminded how grateful I am that she’s still here, too. Now I’ve got to teach her how to pack for two weeks in Europe in only a carry-on bag. Send help! lol
Happy Birthday, Mom. (I know she doesn’t know about this blog, so writing that on here is more for sentiment than anything else, but I wanted it to be said) Here’s to many more bithdays ahead.