Birthday bash

Today’s my mum’s birthday. If she were still alive, she would have turned 56.

I was half dreading this day, because I knew I was going to feel quite mixed up about it. There’s an awful jumble of feelings that come from remembering a dead loved one’s birthday. There’s that sense of wrongness which builds up to the day, and chiefly comes from not doing the usual things. Not hunting down the perfect gift, not wrapping it. Not battling the queue at the post office to send it. Not finding the card. Not texting her in the morning. Not calling her on Skype at the day’s end to find out how she celebrated.

Not being able to jump on the plane and then sidle up to her pew on Sunday to surprise her.

Then there’s the wrongness that comes from remembering someone’s birthday when they’ve passed. She hasn’t turned 56; her body stopped at 55 years, 6 months and 17 days. So what naturally follows is that gut-wrenching, heartrending sense of loss and missing. The kind you’ve been working at mastering and suppressing for the last few months so you can function – and even be happy – without dissolving into a mooching mess.

There was a guy recorded in the bible who had been blind from birth, which means he had probably been reduced to begging because that’s what happens when you don’t have Disability Care in the days of Jesus. And the question naturally followed: why? Was he born blind because of his parents’ sin? What was the whole point of depriving a person of sight and a livelihood from the start? Or the middle, for that matter. What is the whole point of dragging a woman through a very tough childhood and marriage, only to strike her with cancer when she’s finally breathing easier? Why?

And Jesus basically said that the whole point was so that God could be given the glory. A person, blind until adulthood for the sole and magnificent purpose of Jesus walking pass to heal him. Except I sure wish He were here in the flesh today, and that he chose to heal my mother.

What was the point of giving her life, only to take it away at 55? Was it so that God may be glorified through her example in death? Or was it so that others like me could be brought more into repentance?

I remember reading someone’s blog, and the whole blog was about this family who has a daughter with a condition that would almost certainly guarantee her death by age 4. When you know you have that sort of timeline, you don’t mess about as a parent. The doctrines about sleep training, the guilt about breastfeeding vs formula, the philosophies about discipline, the race to each baby milestone completely melts away when you realise that Nothing Is That Important as making sure that child knows she is loved, and that you’re all making great memories together. That blogger’s house was a complete mess some days but as the child got sicker, all they did as a family sometimes was to eat takeaway and watch cartoons with her. It flew in the face of every good parenting handbook out there, and yet I think it was perfect and natural parenting for their sick daughter at the time.

I wish I had known about my mother’s timeline, because I wish I had understood which battles to fight and which battles to merrily concede defeat because they weren’t worth picking up the axe for in the first place. I wish I had not fussed at the fringes, but understood which were the more important things. I wish I had dropped everything and run to her sooner. Hindsight can be such a bitter thing.

There’s the alarm clock, chirping in the distance. Yet another reminder that time marches on. Oh how I miss you, my mother, my confidante, my home away from home.

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2 thoughts on “Birthday bash

  1. oh velle. these are tough questions indeed. I dont have all (or any) answers but I can say I think God was glorified through her whole life… and though you…. and through Arddun. I guess all of our lives are to bring glory to God… in different ways and through different paths. but they ‘whys’ on those paths are the hard questions, the eternal ones huh. The stuff you wrote about timelines is so confronting … really made me think… about what I would do differently, what I would pursue or let go off. You did the best you could with what you knew or had resources to do at the time. And I have no doubt that through it all, she knew how much you loved her. big hugs and remembering your wonderful mum today. xx

  2. Priyanca

    Sigh Velle…you write so beautifully and so poignantly over things I agonise over as well (because I know it’s inevitable) that you make me want to cry. But most importantly, you give me a timely reminder not to sweat the small stuff where my own parents are concerned. Thank you for that.

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