It always surprises me the twinge of sadness that creeps up on this day. The sudden, sneaky sense of loss and loneliness that makes me remember that this day was once your day and now it's just a date on the calendar.
You would have been 45 today. 45. That blows my mind. It also reminds me how young you were; a young mom, young nurse, young homeowner, young survivor. So, so young.
There are a handful of memories I have of you that are so vivid they feel like they happened yesterday. In one of my memories, we were at my elementary school for a placement exam to determine what grade I would go into. For some reason I decided to bomb the placement exam and show no interest in it, and this thoroughly infuriated you. You were so angry with me, you told me I was better than my score, that I was smart, that I needed to work hard and try even if I didn't feel like it.
Well, mom, I graduated college. I have a job in my field. I am paying off my debt as quickly as I can. I read anything and everything. I'm making new friends and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I try to volunteer and spend time with children and make sure they feel loved. I went on a camping trip this summer in another state. I am trying to be honest about my flaws. I'm trying, always.
I wonder what you'd say if you could see that. I wonder what life would look like if diseases went away, if medical technology was advanced 50 years and if you were here today celebrating your 45th birthday with me.
There's a lot of danger in musing and wondering "what if?" when you've got an amazing life in front of you, an amazing family, an amazing mother and a unique life. The "what if's" don't matter because they'll never be, and the dwelling on them only delays your attempts to try and be in the present.
I'm not trying to make this a sad letter, because it shouldn't be. We, your children, are living life the best we know how; to the fullest. I dare say we're enjoying it and noticing pieces of you in us daily. That is exciting.
You're not here today and you won't be next year, but I hope you know that you're still walking around this earth in the bodies you created and nurtured. You're still here in the photographs and the memories. You're still here in the yellow roses and the cold tapioca. That, at least, will never change. I don't have to wonder about that.