Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have turned 68.
As I told my dad earlier, it feels like I’m stuck in this terrible, never-ending dream, and I keep waking up, hoping it’s going to end, and it just… doesn’t.
On many levels, her death still seems surreal. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It hasn’t become stark reality, it hasn’t been carved in the stone of recent history.
We’re all still reeling.
And today, I made my way to work—confident I would be able to make it through the day.
I stepped into a meeting in the conference room. Six women gathered around the conference table as we called in to speak to our client.
At one point, the client asked a question and we needed to unmute the phone line.
Instead of hitting the mute button, I accidentally hit the button to call our president’s office. And then, once we realized what I had done, somebody else hit a button and it ended up dropping us off the call with the client.
I was immediately embarrassed, and I felt emotions thundering in my belly and threatening to shoot up through my throat and out through my eyes in the form of tears and wails. I crawled under the table as everyone guffawed—it was a hilarious scene, and I saw and felt the hilarity of it, but I could not fight the emotions welling up from deep within.
I sat back in my chair, for a split second believing I was ok.
But grief is a bitch, and before I knew it, my skin was suddenly hot with giant tears streaming down my face, and I could feel the suffocating gasps of pain coming.
I fled the room and ran into an office and closed the door, collapsing against the table.
I sort of composed myself after a little while. The meeting finished. My co-workers offered condolences and reassurances.
I tried to come back to some semblance of ok, but I felt like a shell the thickness of a soap bubble trying to contain the nuclear explosion already going on inside of me. I walked around, enjoying seeing everyone’s festive, ugly sweaters and cute Christmas ornament earrings. I tried to talk myself into searching for some enjoyment with the festivities that we were about to experience—the big reveal for secret Santas, and then our Christmas lunch, followed by early release from work.
But I returned to my desk, where I sat, tears running down my face, wondering how I was going to get through this day.
Truthfully, there was only one place I wanted to be: by my dad’s side.
I called Daddy on the way, asking him to make some coffee. His voice immediately lifted when he realized I was coming over.
We hugged and sat, watching a couple of TV shows as he finished breakfast and I sipped coffee.
And then I asked him what he was planning to do today. He said he was planning to decorate for Christmas, but he just couldn’t seem to find the motivation.
So, we did it together.
We put up the tree, again going over the history of some of the decorations and how much they meant to us, just as we had done for many years before now.
We put out stockings and a few other odds and ends—marveling at just how much Christmas décor was left… just how much we weren’t putting out.
What can I say… my mom loved Christmas and Christmas décor.
We went out on the town in his new truck to Michael’s, Walgreens, and Target. We took our time running errands, poking around for some time in both Michael’s and Target.
And then we went back to the house and ate dinner.
It turned out to be a leisurely day. A better day than what we both started with.
We stood at my car, hugging, and he thanked me for coming over. I told him there was nowhere else I wanted to be today, that I didn’t just do it for him—I did it for me, too. I felt so lost this morning, and the only place I wanted to run to was to him.
He needed me today, and I needed him. And we turned a shitty day into a better one, and we managed to inject some color into this rather gray day. I am grateful.
Happy birthday, Mama. We love you and miss you, more than words can say...