It has always fascinated me how memory works and that simple, seemingly innate things seem to open the flood gates sometimes.... Forty Two, a number and a birthday.... I turned 42 while we were in Toronto, a lovely day with family, delicious food in a quiet tavern and cupcakes. A perfect birthday day.
But that morning, memories of my mom flooded my mind... I'm the same age she was. 42 is the only birthday I remember of hers...which is so odd.
I remember Kelli and I climbing on our vinyl and wood chairs in our cluttered kitchen to tape up blue crepe paper streamers from the exposed beam between the kitchen and family room and me then taping rudimentary 4 and 2 with the remaining bits to that black beam... A hurried attempt to surprise my mom with something special ...
Mom came in the door moments later. I don't remember if she even noticed. I do remember her putting on her threadbare pink mumu climbing on the couch and falling asleep within minutes. Same as any other day. There was nothing special about that day. So sad.
At almost 9 Kelli and I knew things were very wrong but it would take another decade until we could even start to understand the effects of her mental illness and addiction.
For years I was positive that any day I would wake up and my life would be a carbon copy of hers. And that thought terrified me. It took years to understand and accept and see that things could and would be different for me.
I will always wonder what things could have been like for her, if she had the support and understanding and medical advances available now. My heart will always ache a little when I think about that.
But I have found a place of peace, to set that aside knowing that some day those answers will come.
My life at 42 is very different
Her love of musicals and the ocean and a meal out with family some of the good traits we share...but a life in turmoil I do not live. The lessons we learned from her and about her kept us from the same path.
Memories bring gratitude and so do birthdays.