My mother was born on October 29, 1941 in Bismarck, North Dakota. Until today every time her birthdate rolled around I thought, “This was my mother’s birthday.” As if her not being alive today to celebrate her birthday took away from the fact that she was born on this very day 73 years ago.
My mother is not turning 73 years-old today. She died at the age of 69. Her years are no longer accumulating, but she was born on this day. Today is still the day to celebrate her birth. And her birth is something grand to celebrate.
I stopped celebrating her birthday after she died on February 9, 2011. Her birthdays became a grim reminder that dialing her phone number would no longer result in hearing her sing song greeting, “Well, hello Kayla.”
I don’t know how my perspective finally changed today. It just did. I wish I knew what clicked to help me realized that I can celebrate the birth of my loved one even though she has not aged another day.
A cycle of history started in Bismarck, North Dakota when my grandparents celebrated the birth of my mother seventy-three years ago today. My parents celebrated my birth twenty-five years later on a September day in Dallas, Texas. Fifty years after her birth, my mother held my hand in Seattle, Washington on an October day to celebrate the birth of her first grandchild. And sixty-nine years later I held her hand as she died peacefully at home.
In between those milestones my mother weaved a lifetime of joy, laughter and love into the lives of her friends and family. And so today, instead of mourning her death, I celebrate her birth.