I missed your birthday this year. I sent you a card, and I sang Happy Birthday over the phone. But I wasn’t there.
For a week now, I’ve been sulking about it. Not openly, not making a big deal, not letting everyone know how I’m feeling. But my heart has been all twisted up inside because I missed your birthday.
It’s not the first I haven’t been around for, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. But it feels . . . different, this time. Maybe because I assumed that I would still be a five hour drive away, and I was sure to be there for the cake at Grandma’s house & family & presents & laughter. But now I’m a day’s drive away, with a vehicle that can’t withstand the effort anymore.
So I missed your birthday this year, and it hurt.
I hate that I’m not around enough. I hate that I can’t hug you every Sunday morning & lay my head on your lap while watching TV. I hate that I can’t see your smile & hear your voice & feel your soft hands on my skin. It hurts.
This past week, I have been wallowing in that hurt. I have been letting the tears choke me, and I have been letting the hurt bind me. I can feel it rising up in me now, and I want to stop writing. I don’t want to write this because it hurts so bad. I don’t want to think, I don’t want to talk, because it is hurting me so bad.
And then I went to the beach, and I thought about the two of us sitting in the sand, just being together. I heard a voice in my head, your voice, saying, Nora, you need to get up. You will accomplish nothing sitting here & crying. You always were the reason to my emotion, and I got up, and I jumped into the sea.
Yes it hurts. But I know you, and I know you wouldn’t want me crying about it all the time. You’d hold me for a moment, then you’d rub my back like you do & tell me to move on, knowing I just need a little push to heave me out of my pit of misery. We both know I can get stuck there. You always were to one to help me up.
I swam, thinking about your dark hair with the beautiful shoots of gray sweeping in. I thought about your hands, little like mine, soft & strong all at once. I kicked against the current, hearing your voice telling me to keep moving, to not give up just yet. I came up from under the waves, throwing salty water into the air, and I saw your knowing smile on the horizon.
Oh, my dear momma, I thought to myself, thank you. I’m getting up now.
I love you, momma.