The Day You Gave Me

Thank you for bringing me here. Into this life of mine, my little universe that means everything to me.

When I was little, my sister used to joke that I was adopted. I get that it was just to tease me and make me feel like I didn’t really belong in our family. She would snicker that I didn’t look like you as much as she did. As I got older, there were times I used to secretly wish that were true. As I got even older, I realized that being brought in, rather than born in, would have made little difference. Either way here I am. Another year, another fragmented piece of a beginning somewhere far away, a distant memory, that still defines my today. I am right here because of you. I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a lover of words and deep laughs, a dedicated inspirer of lost hearts, a hero to my dogs, a lap for my cat- because of you.

So thank you for bringing me here.

As mothers, we typically don’t make a big fuss over ourselves, this includes our birthdays. It’s just another day. Another series of wake up calls, finding lost shoes, letting your six year old choose his favorite flavor of carmel corn in the sweet shop at the mall because, after all, we are celebrating right? Another tantrum from the one year old who doesn’t want lunch, and instead wants more sticky blue spun sugar. An eye roll from the 5th grader after the request to unload the dishwasher, his daily chore. Another field trip day for the 7th grader who almost forgot to wear his school t-shirt, remembered at the last second, and so together we frantically searched in those seconds before the bus showed up, finding it in the dryer with the load thrown in the night before. Just another day. Husband needed help putting on his socks. I hope to God his back starts to feel better soon, he works so hard, he won’t let pain slow him down. Crossing guard scowled at me in a drizzly Tuesday drop off line for stopping a moment longer than I should have to wish my kindergartner a great day and not to forget his snack is in his front zipper. Out of diapers, headed to the store. Almost out of milk, make sure to grab that too. What to do for dinner…

Just another day. No time to stop and be anything but appreciative. There is so much to be thankful for- in fact today, there’s everything to be thankful for. I would have missed all of these incredible faces, the eye rolls, the sweet laughs, the nervous smiles, the giggly baby sounds, the loving kisses. The lazy, possessive pups sprawling across my lap the first time I have a chance to sit down. The cat, who I’m sure must be able to read because he came in bright and early before the dawn, with his own gift of a purr-fest snuggle session ensuring I was up before my alarm to feed him and scratch his ears. The handsome man I share this life with, who surprised me with a special delivery of iced coffee in the middle of the day… I would miss all of it- if not for this day.

I haven’t heard from you on this day in four years. You surely remember each time it rolls around on the calendar. How could a mother forget? But, as I’ve already written, I’m Not Supposed To Call You.

I think you are supposed to though. I think that’s how it’s supposed to work. But nothing works between us. I am starting to see the shape of your eyes and their folds in the mirror. They have the same laugh lines. My hands are starting to show the same paper-thin fragility, and the veins just underneath, that yours did at this age. The hands I remember looking at curiously as a little girl, wondering if mine would ever look old and worn out too. It hurts on days like today more than other days.

It makes this one bittersweet every year. I want to tell you thank you for bringing me here. To this life. For making every choice you did leading up to today, thirty-four years ago. But since I am not supposed to, I will say thank you by smiling back at the faces that are here celebrating with me. That are here because of this day you gave me. It’s everything, they are everything. The best birthday present today and every day I’m given after, is to see them. I looked long and hard into my daughter’s eyes today. I stared at her hands in the review mirror while she slept. Sticky and blue, as we drove home from the mall. I forgot to pick up diapers. I wish there was more I could say, there’s everything. But for today, especially, a day that is nothing out of the ordinary for anyone else in the world except to you and to me, I want to say thank you to you for giving me this day. You have given me everything. We may not have it now, but I remember it once. I remember your face and I see it in the mirror still.