My mom's birthday

So last week my mom would have turned 66. It's funny- we stop celebrating birthdays when someone dies. Maybe that makes sense. Maybe we want to freeze the person at a moment in time so that they don't get any older. They remain the same in our minds because their age stops when their life stopped.

And yet... we get older. And as we get older those who have died remain with us, but our relationship with them and about them changes. For my mom, my relationship with her, even though she was not here in body, changed when I had children- when I became a mother myself. In an instant and over the years, my arguments with my daughters, my pleas for a clean room and brushed hair and an end to back-talk-sassiness have reminded me of my mom. I hear myself telling (yelling) at my daughters just as she did with me: "I am your mother and you will not talk to me like that." "There will be no friends coming over until your room is cleaned up." "If you are too sick to stay home from school then you are too sick to go to dance class after school." Over and over again, these reminders from my past with the roles reversed have served to bring my mom closer to me. We now share what it's like to be a mother to a daughter. We now share our hopes to raise a strong child with strong views and a strong mind but with respect and with honesty and with humility. We now share concerns over how to make ends meet and how to make the best decisions for our lives and how to make the best of our lot and to make do with what we have.

When I got divorced I connected with my mother in a entirely new way. She may be gone but she was with me in my heart and mind and soul as I contemplated life as a single, working mother. As I sat and figured and re-figured budgets and bills, as I cried until my tears ran dry and I screamed until my voice was hoarse and I pounded my fists until they were red at how my marriage had ended, she was with me. I was reminded of how she crumbled at the end of her marriage to my father; how she turned off and tuned out and caved in for months. How she then picked herself up and threw her shoulders back and returned to work and returned to her life and restarted herself and her children for this new phase in our lives.

My mother got sick was I was 14 and when the time came for me to get tested for the breast cancer/ovarian cancer "gene" I agreed immediately. When it came time for me to get my results, I hesitated. In that instant I knew what my mother had faced when learning the results of her own ovarian cancer test. I joined with her in the fear of what the news might mean for myself and my children- for my life and their lives and how the future would change right. this. instant. I felt her next to me. I felt her presence and her arms around me. I felt her holding my hand and steadying my breath and listening with me to the news. I felt her hold my shoulders as I sobbed at the realization that I had this gene; this gene that took my mother away from me. Throughout my surgeries that followed, I was able to take great strides to save my own life. To turn from my mother's path and to forge my own way and to take my life into my hands. But through it all, she has been with me. Even if she is not here in body, she is with me in spirit. Our relationship changes as I grow older and wiser and more experienced. But the one thing that will never change is that my mother was here with me- for a short time on this earth- and forever in my soul.

This is the life.
- a


  1. What a truly beautiful and meaningful blog. I had no idea you had preventative surgery. I am sure your mother is watching you and beaming at what a remarkable woman you are.


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