Today would have been my mom's 57th birthday. It marks the 5th birthday she's not here to celebrate--which is hard to believe.
On her 52nd Birthday she had to work the night shift. We shared an apartment; so I decorated the place in yellow streams, a 'Happy Birthday' sign, and I made her a confetti cake. Since she would be getting in so late, I left a note asking her to wake me up when she got home.
I'll never forget how excited she was to have someone celebrate her. I saw her tear up a little, and I knew it made it her so happy that I tried to leave the streamers up for a long time after. But my mom was a big about decluttering, so she had me take them down after a week.
Looking back I'm glad I had grown to be a little less selfish at that point, enough to be able to celebrate the woman who gave me birth. I was only (newly) 21 and got caught up in my own world pretty often, but God gave me the inspiration to do something special that year.
A couple of weeks later, I went to Los Angeles for the first time. It was my Spring Break trip that I saved up for. My mom was so proud of me for traveling and seeing the world that she bragged about me to (what felt like) everyone she met. I was her daughter that traveled to visit friends, and I paid for the whole trip myself!
I brought her back a key chain and seashells. Both of which I now have in my possession. My mom was able to carry that key chain (a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star with 'Pat' on it) for a month. Then, at the end of April we had to say goodbye.
I think about that last month of her life often. I remember all of the kid feelings of being embarrassed by my parent, I remember all the times we giggled, the times we fought, and I remember, especially in that last month, how supportive she was of my decisions in life.
Now, 5 years later, I'm married, I'm moving to LA, I have seen so much more of the world than she ever dreamed of, and I am happy. I am really, really happy.
It hurts so much at times that she hasn't been here for any of that, but all of her support and encouragement is still with me today. I am very much the person and the dreamer that I am because... she told me I could be that person.
I often think on how losing my mom so young has shaped me as a person. I ask questions like 'would I still have met and married Jayson if it had not happened?'. But the key I need to remember is to not dwell on how her death has affected me, but how her life influenced mine.
So happy birthday, Mommy; and thank you. Not just for giving me life, but for shaping who I am in every sense.-s