My Mom’s First Birthday, Without My Mom

I’m struggling through the firsts. First day. First week. First month. First year. First holiday. First time talking about her in the past tense. Breakfasts. Lunches. Dinners. First family milestones. First cry. Second cry. Third cry.

First birthday.

My mom died on April 2nd and tomorrow (April 29th) is her birthday. She would have been 84 and I cannot begin to explain how difficult, painful, sorrowful, awful it is to look at the words would have been.

In the weeks since my mom’s passing, friends have tried to comfort me, many saying, “may her memory be a blessing.” Not yet… Unfortunately, when I think of my mom – every moment, minute, hour – any memory I have is interrupted by the horrific images of my mom in the ICU and later in hospice. Me, holding her hand, rubbing her feet, kissing her forehead and telling her how much we love her and how it was okay for her to rest.

And you were expecting something happy go lucky?


As I try to move forward, I find myself guilty and feeling disrespectful at the times I do laugh at something, enjoy a moment with my family and friends or immerse myself with work. I can’t post or comment on social media and when I wish someone Happy Birthday on Facebook, I can’t bring myself to using an exclamation point because that joy isn’t what I’m feeling. I understand that – with time – things will get better. They will. But they will never be the same. I understand there will be a time that my mom’s memory will be a blessing. Just not there yet.

I focus much of my attention on my dad. My dad. What an unbelievably terrific person. He always tells me that I’m the best. No dad, you are. I am so proud of him. I speak with him twice a day, every day and Aki, Lily and I went to Florida for Passover. He is doing…okay…fine…as good as could be expected.

Mom was…is dad’s everything. Sixty-four years. Think about it. Sixty-four years. Wherever Harvey was, Sheila was beside him. Best of friends. The best. They laughed together. Drank together. Loved their children and grandchildren together. Hugged Edgar and later monkey together (don’t ask). I don’t know how my dad is doing it, but he is; and I am so grateful.

Grateful. Gratitude. Believe it or not, I am. I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with my mom and I cherish every moment. Mom, I love you and you will always be with me. As with each of your children, heck every person you touched, you and I had a special relationship. A special bond.

Mom, you were always there for me when I needed and wanted you most. We endured my cerebral palsy together. You were there for my therapy as I learned how to walk and better my motor skills. You withstood my tantrums. You were there when I cried about being picked on in elementary school and chosen last at everything. You comforted me. You were there when I went to biofeedback so I could better control my tremors in high school. So damn supportive.

And the funny thing is (who am I kidding, there’s nothing funny about this)… the funny thing is, I now know you kept all that worry, pain and guilt that you had about the CP to yourself (check that; shared with dad). Never once burdening me with your sorrow. As a parent myself I now know, when your child cries, you cry. When your child is in pain, you are in pain.

Mom, our relationship was so much more than that. One of things that is abundantly clear to me, is I cannot succinctly define what our complete relationship was or meant. Doing so would be an injustice and I would fail to capture the essence or nuances.

What I can say is everything you did; you did with grace and love. You were the heart and soul of this family. You were the smile, The laugh. The hug. You made me a better person.

I love you mom. Happy birthday.


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