Friday was my 39th birthday. This year I have a lot to be grateful for, compared to the grim circumstances of my last birthday. Mom was just 11 days out of major surgery at this point last year and in a skilled nursing facility so she could learn how to walk again. She had a colostomy bag and there was no way to know if the cancer had been successfully removed at that point. I visited her at the nursing home and she labored in writing me a birthday note. I was touched by her effort, which I recorded in last year’s birthday post.
Mom has come a long way in the last year. Things are almost back to “normal” whatever that is. Of course, Dad is and always will be the missing piece of that puzzle. As I’ve written before, the long-standing tradition was for my parents to sing “Happy Birthday” to me over the phone, since I usually was not with them for my birthday. They would practice and Dad loved the chance to break out his Bing Crosby impersonation. Last year, things were so crazy that I didn’t even think about the birthday serenade.
This year, Mom was ready for her solo performance. But as she began she was clearly choked up. It took me a moment to understand why and then I knew she was missing Dad as her duet partner. But she got through it and did the big dramatic ending that she used to do with Dad. It made me smile and tear up at the same time.
At some point after losing someone close to you, you adjust for the most part to a “new normal” in your day-to-day living. It’s in these small, rare special moments that the loss hurts the heart the most.