May 2nd, 2023

It's my birthday

The bittersweet reality of grief and celebration...

To date,  I've survived countless first celebrations since my mom died. Her birthday, family member's birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, the list goes on, and each one with its own ting of discomfort and pain, intertwined with the joy and smiles. That's grief. I've quickly learned that pain and joy are no longer mutually exclusive. I live on the spectrum, and daily my barometer shifts through these emotions. The severity diminishes but never dissolves completely. 

Normally, when the *NSYNC memes start to float around at the end of April,  and Justin Timberlake's bleached Ramen tendrils bounce as he sings "It's gonna be MAY", I get excited. Not only does it mark the end of the school year, warmer temps,  and patio beers, but it's my Birthday month, an exciting time for my calendar. 

This time last year, we were at a Chicago White Sox game, a place my mom reluctantly visited, as she only wore Cubby blue.

I look at that picture, all of us smiling, drinks in hand (non-alcoholic beer in mine, as I was 7 months pregnant with my second), and what I wouldn't give for a time machine. 

Also, I couldn't feel more different from the girl I was then. I can't relate to her. That girl still had her mom and was blissfully ignorant of what it was truly like to suffer a life-altering loss.  I watched others live through it, but until you experience it yourself, you fall into, "You don't know what you don't know." 

So here we are, on the eve of my Birthday, and the cumulative grief feels worse than ever.  Not only will I not receive a text first thing in the morning from my mom, but in two weeks, I also won't be celebrating her on Mother's Day, and a few weeks after that, I will approach the one-year mark, something to me that seems completely impossible. 

How have I lived without my mom for an entire year? 

Also, here we are on the eve of my Birthday, stoked for a Bachelorette trip on Friday for one of my best friends. A happy momma and wife, gushing while watching her daughters thrive. A girl who is proud of herself for the growth she's made this year. A girl who is proud of her 36 years, and excited for what's next. 

I am humbled by the success of my journal, and thrilled for the possibilities and the number of people I could potentially help. I've become passionate about changing the face of grief from a strange hooded figure in black to a bright, colorful, and fun face of what it really looks like. Grief can look like me too, a young mom, teacher, wife, and friend who thrives in the sunshine and a cocktail in her hand.  (If only Lilly Pulitzer wanted to do a collab)

I've decided to start my Blog today, on my Birthday, to celebrate a new year and new adventures. While my mom is not with me physically, I bring her with me everywhere I go. 

Lots of interesting conversations have come out of this project, and lots of missing puzzle pieces have slowly started to fall into place. I'm excited to share my journey with you and all the interesting things I am learning as I go. 

Until next time,