September 15th is my mom’s birthday. If you have ever lost a loved one holidays and birthdays can be especially difficult, but they also bring a flood of some of the greatest memories you have with someone. My mom celebrated the heck out of her birthday – she adopted a birthday month mentality, heck I felt like it even went on through the entire fall. Everyone is different at how they approach their birthday, but my mom loved the attention, she loved being a queen for a day, and she knew how to celebrate like no other. I would give almost anything to be able to celebrate with her on this day, to take her to lunch, to get her a new bottle of perfume, and be a part of her special day. I will always remember her last birthday lunch we had at Cebollas. I wish I would have known that it was the last time that we would celebrate her special day. I just always assumed I had dozens more. I would like to think I would do something different, but we had a great time. I don’t write this to stir up emotions, or instantly play the cliche card about appreciating someone and being in the moment, but I would be lying if I didn’t feel some sort of guilt about not doing a better job or being a better son. I know my mom wouldn’t feel that way, but I think all of us can think of several situations where we maybe would have acted different if we knew what was on the path ahead of us. It can put into us a sense of guilt or condemnation. Guilt is a powerful emotion, and I believe that God has used this experience in my life not to put me down a path of bitterness or confusion, but to make me better. I have a long way to go, but my mom’s death has given me and my family a tremendous amount of perspective, appreciation for each other and for the time that we do have with each other. It has given me an appreciation for all of the things that I know I get from her – for good and bad! I will never turn down a trip, music, cooking, German cars, and so much more!
This past weekend, all of my cousins, aunts and uncles celebrated my mom and Aunt Nancy’s life. In 2016, they both passed within months of each other and it was a very difficult season for our family. They grew up on Lake Eerie, and we thought it would be fitting to get a lake house together, share stories and photos, hang out together, and do a memorial on the beach with their ashes. The whole weekend I couldn’t help but be reminded at how proud our mom and aunt would be of us for putting this all together with almost 20 people from all over the country. It was sort of a passing of the torch where family gatherings and reunions were no longer up to our parents and aunts and uncle to organize, but the cousins.
I often times have a hard time expressing my thoughts verbally, so this is helpful for me to work through and talk through all that I have learned. I more or less want to document this so I don’t forget. If you are here and you are struggling with that guilt of lost time with a loved one, I would love to talk through this with you, pray with you, see how we can help each other. If you are estranged from someone, or you are dragging your feet about having a hard conversation, I would encourage you to do your best to be at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18. I promise you that it is always worth it and that the allure of time and being able to reconcile in the future isn’t always guaranteed.